Why I Wish I Played Team Sports as a Kid

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I didn’t play team sports as a kid.

Well, I guess that’s not true. I was technically on a soccer team when I was 6 and, if memory serves, I was actually pretty good (for a 6 year old). I played defense and I liked it because mostly I got to stand there while everyone else did all the running. The following year, I joined the 7-year old soccer team and immediately quit after the first practice when the coach made us run  one lap around the field. That was the end of my experience with team sports. Instead, I turned my attention to horseback riding and rode competitively for pretty much the rest of my youth. Unless you’re on a college equestrian team, horseback riding is not a team sport. Sure, you have friends that go to the same barn as you, but at the end of the day, it’s you and your horse against everyone else. I liked it that way. I also liked the fact that horseback riding never involved running.

Fast forward to today and I am playing my first ever team sport…adult recreational kickball. My friend asked AJ and I to be on the team and assured us that the team is pretty terrible and they just play for fun. Well, friends, our team is undefeated. Are there only 5 other teams in our league? Yes. Are several of them possibly drunk while on the field? Also yes. But nonetheless, our team turned out to be pretty good. And my lack of team sports experience is biting me in the ass.

I am an absolute basket case during kickball. And tonight is the playoffs and potentially, our championship game.

It’s not that I am not good at kickball – actually, quite the contrary. I usually get on base and can kick the ball pretty hard and pretty far, especially for a girl in our league (it’s co-ed and each team has to have 5 girls on it). I am one of the faster girls on the team and that helps when running the bases and going after the ball in the field. But mentally? Oh, I am such a mess. See, I play left field. A lot of the team rotates in and out of their positions, but I am always in left field. I am, objectively, fairly terrified of the ball. More accurately, I am afraid of not catching the ball. Therefore, I do not want the ball to come anywhere near me for fear I will make some tremendous mistake and cost the team runs. I literally stand in the outfield shaking and panting because I am so nervous about that stupid ball being kicked in my direction. It’s bad enough when the game is a blowout (as several of our wins have been) but when it is close? OMG. I feel like I am about to faint, and that is truly not an exaggeration.

Literally, I came in from the outfield once and was standing in the dugout next to AJ while our team was kicking. “Wow, you’re really breathing hard,” he said. “Did you sprint it in from the outfield?” “Nope,” I said. “I’m just panicking about going back out there.” That was when I knew I was…unhinged.

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AJ to me literally every Wednesday night

It’s ridiculous because it’s not like our kickball team is some high pressure organization where I get yelled at if I make a mistake or drop the ball. Like I said, it’s adult recreational kickball. While we like to win, really, no one is going to be particularly upset if we don’t. Well, no one except me, because I will somehow find a way to blame myself for the defeat. I think my entire team thinks I am absolutely nuts, and they’re right. All I know is that I really wish I had played team sports as a kid, because I like to think I would have worked through all of this by now. You know those players who want the ball in their hands when it comes time to take the final shot to win the game at the last second? I am not that player. I want the ball to be as far away from me as possible and heading in the opposite direction. Preferably, I’d like it to be a blowout so it doesn’t come down to the last second. #notclutch

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So, the playoffs are tonight and I’m not saying I’m considering taking some of my panic attack medication, but I’m not not saying that. What I am saying is that if I ever have kids, they’re going to play a team sport, even if just for a season or two, so that they do not become me. If you’re thinking “Poor AJ,” don’t worry – he and I are, too.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Do you have performance anxiety when it comes to sports? Did you play team sports as a kid?

15 thoughts on “Why I Wish I Played Team Sports as a Kid

  1. OMG we are so alike it is scaring me right now. I also did not play team sports ever (unless you count dance team which, no) and when my husband and I played co-ed adult rec softball a few years ago it nearly killed me!! I stayed in the outfield and literally prayed the ball never came near me. The two times it did all season, I almost died!!! It was the worst and luckily, my husband hated the entire experience so that was the end of it. I was delirious with relief. So, I feel you!!!
    All I can say is GOOD LUCK tonight and just make it though one last game my friend. You got this!
    PS – I wish we lived closer so we could do group therapy.

    1. OMG this is amazing! I am so glad I am not the only one. I love all the people on our team but I find the entire experience so stressful. I think it would not be so bad if the team was terrible because then at least I wouldn’t be the only one screwing up, but since we’re undefeated, I just feel so much pressure. MAKE IT STOP!

  2. I 100% feel you on this one and have had this conversation with my husband. I was a nationally competitive figure skater growing up. I spent my life pretty much 24/7 focused on skating, including moving away from home in high school to live in a training center. My husband comments on my lack of team abilities and I jokingly tell him I ran track as a team sport. It makes him laugh and laugh. I notice my inability to be a team player when I watch sports. I tend to focus on one player at a time. Ugh.

    1. Wow, Sarah! That’s so cool! I do not recommend you ever play team sports as an adult, either. I think we both missed our window 🙂

    1. Thanks, Liza! I may have to have a glass of wine or two before the game. I’m a mess.

  3. You are describing exactly how I felt as a teen playing soccer! Our team was very good and the game was almost always a blowout but I didn’t want the ball to come any where near me because I didn’t want to mess up!
    I played kickball too and I was pretty good. I didn’t have the same feelings with kickball. I think it did help that I had played kickball since I was very little, and soccer was a new sport to us. (Also, the soccer ball is a lot harder than a kickball and can hurt a lot more 🙂 ).

  4. Ummm, so I still refuse to play team sports. Partly because my hand-eye coordination is zero and, no. Nope. That’s it. Just the hand eye thing.
    I played softball on my corporate team and managed to hit the ball into my face?! [insert ball + face joke here] so I’ll stick to individual sports, or activities that do not involve balls flying at my face.
    Can I say balls one more time?
    Balls.

    1. Interesting that you grew up playing them but they stress you out now! I figured if I had played them, I wouldn’t be such a basket case. I feel slightly better knowing that I might still be one regardless 🙂

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