Peak performance

I’ve played soccer practically my entire life. I remember watching my older brothers’ games on the sidelines as I eagerly awaited my turn to “tear up the field.” As soon as I was old enough to play the game, it became my passion, so naturally I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to play for my high school.

I finished my freshman season of soccer filled with satisfaction. I had made varsity and felt like a valued member of the team. But sophomore year was an entirely different story. Fresh off of a disappointing year for club soccer, I was nervous for the upcoming high school season. A swirl of doubts took hold and seemed to inhibit my ability to be successful on the field. I hesitated to make essential runs offensively and second-guessed each of my shots on goal. 

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With each additional game I didn’t score, I felt consumed by shame and noticed when my playing time began to wane significantly. I couldn’t shake the fear that my skill had “peaked” the previous year. 

I couldn’t shake the fear that my skill had “peaked” the previous year.

When junior year rolled around, I still felt stuck, and as the first game of the season approached, I became hyper-focused on having a healthy diet and on getting the perfect amount of sleep in order to do well in the match. Ironically, these superficial “fixes” only increased my nerves, and again I finished the game having done poorly and feeling dejected.

That was when it suddenly clicked for me: Why was I accepting the idea that something I loved could be turned into something that filled me with dread? I realized I’d been caught up in thinking that the ability I’d shown on the field in the past had been my personal ability. No wonder I was feeling like my performance was limited and that I could lose my skills.

But I knew that couldn’t be true because of what I’ve learned in Christian Science. I’ve learned that I’m the expression of God, which means I’m the expression of every good quality, like strength, agility, discernment, and grace. These qualities are sourced in God, so they’re always present; we can’t lose them, and they can’t ever diminish. 

For the first time I was able to see that the reason I’d been successful in the past was because of all that God is and how that was expressed through my playing. I could recognize the expression of Life and Soul as I energetically raced down the line before crossing the ball. I could recognize the presence of Spirit and Love as my teammates and I shouted a cheer before a match. I could see the expression of Mind and Principle as I watched developing plays with discernment and made dynamic runs toward the goal. 

The more I understood that my ability comes from God—and always has—the easier it was to let go of the belief that I’d somehow lost my skill.

I realized that all the fear I’d been feeling was like radio static, which was preventing me from hearing the truth God was telling me about who I really am as His daughter. So before and during our next game, I made sure to tune out the static and keep my thoughts in tune with my Father-Mother. I felt so much more free! 

The more I understood that my ability comes from God—and always has—the easier it was to let go of the belief that I’d somehow lost my skill. I stopped playing rigidly, and my composure and confidence returned. My “scoring drought” ended, and I went on to put the ball in the net more and more as the season progressed. I was also able to develop a feeling of camaraderie with my team and discovered that playing together with more of that childlike joy was far more energizing than carbs ever could be.

That year I ended up being the top goal-scorer for my high school team, but that wasn’t the most important way my game changed. Now when I play, I’m way less focused on myself and much more focused on supporting my teammates, having fun, and glorifying God. I’m so grateful God helped me rediscover the joy of playing soccer.

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