Premature Celebration, the surest way to lose a game

Last week I watched some amazing volleyball.  The  Pine School was up 9-1 in game 3 against Palm Beach Central only to lose 15-11.  Martin County High School was down 2-0, (17-25, 19-25)  and came back in 5 games to defeat arch rival Jensen Beach High School.   The Pine School vs. Sebastian River High School, up 2-0, (25-17, 25-12) only to lose the next 3 games and the match. I believe that a huge factor in all these comebacks was a mental condition I call Premature Celebration, the fastest way to ruin a big lead.

Premature or excessive celebration is practically an epidemic in girls volleyball and leads to some really bad mental conditions. The first problem with Premature Celebration from a mental perspective is that the team gets on an emotional high; the problem with this is that an emotional high is almost always followed by an emotional low. In my opinion this is what leads to the dramatic momentum shifts we see in volleyball and most sports. I always teach my teams and my athletes that emotional highs can destroy performance,  just as bad as emotional lows. This is why it is important to reset your emotions after every point.

What causes Premature Celebration? I believe it is directly related to the score, or more precisely, thinking about the score. The reason Jensen Beach and The Pine School did not come out for game 3 as they did for game 1 is that the girls knew the score was 2-0 and both teams thought they had already won the match. They had lost focus and concentration. The teams came into game 3 with a severe case of Premature Celebration, and when the momentum shifted, neither The Pine School or Jensen Beach were ready. Both teams were on an emotional high and could not recover. I teach my athletes to play every point to win and never let the score affect the way they play a point. To do this you must to play every point from an emotional base, the zone, and not be thinking about anything but the next point, especially the score.

What else is wrong with Premature Celebration? It makes the other team mad, not a good idea. They get the win and then celebrate. Never give the other team a reason not to like you.( Hopefully you will give them plenty of reasons with your playing). Premature Celebration can also get the crowd into the game. , This can be a real problem as The Pine School learned in Game 3 vs Sebastian River, when they let their guard down.  I believe that the athlete or team who can better manage their emotions will almost always win a close match.

 I have never seen my daughter cry after a volleyball game until the game 3 collapse at the Dig the Pink tournament against Palm Beach Central. It was not because we lost, it was because she let herself get too high and the only place she could  go emotionally was way low . As a father, these games were tough to watch.  My daughter is on The Pine School team. The Pine School was able to meet Palm Beach Central again in the Gold match final. WIth a discussion about Premature Celebration , Pine School  was able to win that match 25-14, 25-15.  As a mental performance coach,  these matches were awesome! They were not lost on the court, but they were lost between the ears. There is no reason why The Pine School or Jensen Beach should have lost those matches, except for a complete mental collapse caused by Premature Celebration. You never learn much from the matches you win, so if there is something to be learned from these losse it is the negative effect of Premature Celebration.  I will be using these games as teaching tools for years to come.

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