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Constructive Criticism, by Emma Doud

A SandLegs alum's take on a growth mindset.


Constructive criticism. As helpful as it sounds, this was something I struggled with for many years while playing sports. I remember fearing what my parents had to say after a tough loss or a poor performance simply because I didn’t want to hear their feedback about what I could have done better.  Instead of listening, I would get grumpy and find fault in the opposing team or worse, with my partner. When I joined SandLegs, my reactions to listening to someone correct me quickly changed. It was Coach Simone Ortega who taught me the valuable lesson of why I should listen to someone who has seen my habits, my faults and my successes over and over again.

At the time, Simone and the other coaches had two goals for us to work on. One, to become a better beach volleyball player, and two, to become a better person. It was during this time that I realized the only reason why someone would want to give me advice on my play was due to the fact that they wanted to see me learn and succeed; and if I wanted to win, I should probably start to consider what they had to say about my play, technique or strategy. Beach volleyball is definitely a game of strategy, and it takes experience to learn the many options for strategic plays. If a coach can help you to think through how you might better defend a particular play or terminate in a certain situation, you should probably at least consider the advice. If you tend to be a little more stubborn, plan to learn the hard way by running around on the court more and more. Or worse, if you don't listen at all, the coach will stop providing you with feedback because they have given up on helping you. Learning to take in and apply constructive criticism helps you to become a better person because ultimately, it forces you to become a more efficient communicator. If you can accept what your coach is telling you, you become more visionary and available to try new opportunities and options (pun intended!). You can then communicate more directly with your beach partner, and with family and friends, without those miserable hard feelings building up inside. Whether you want success in tournaments, advice on techniques or improved communication with your partner, accepting criticism and making a change to advance your play is the first step to becoming a better player.

SandLegs taught me that I needed to have a growth mindset when playing volleyball. Playing with a growth mindset includes accepting challenges and realizing that this can help you grow as a player and a person. As I enter my junior year at LMU, I have become a more approachable person and coachable player who absolutely LOVES receiving feedback because all I want to do is to get better.

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