Why I Wish I Played Team Sports as a Kid

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.

tumblr_onurazypob1vrjwbvo1_500-2 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?