Preparing for Provincial Championships – resources & tips from our Mental Health Ambassadors

In our Annual Member Survey, a significant percentage of respondents said that they experienced performance anxiety or fear of failure during the season.  And as we head into Provincial and National Championships, players, coaches, and referees all start to experience increased pressure and heightened emotions. 

Below are tips from our Mental Health Ambassadors for handling this stressful time and some resources that we hope you will find helpful at this time. You got this!  

tips from derek thiessen

1. Mental preparation for challenges

Prepare yourself mentally for the challenges you may encounter, both physically and mentally, and have steps in place ahead of time to better manage them when they arise. For example, if you know that after playing several games in one day, you’ll feel drained and in need of recovery, plan ahead. Consider what actions you can take to aid your recovery, such as proper hydration, nutrition, and rest. Similarly, if you tend to beat yourself up and go silent on the court when you make mistakes, identify reminders that will be encouraging and supportive. Additionally, determine who you can turn to for support if you notice yourself starting to withdraw.

2. focus on what you can control

Ask yourself two questions: What is within my control today, and what is not? Then, focus on taking action on the things you can control, such as your words, actions, and effort. By concentrating on the aspects of the game that are within your control, you can maintain a positive mindset and optimize your performance.

3. be kind to yourself

If you find yourself upset over a mistake you’ve made, or several mistakes, consider how you would treat a teammate in the same situation. If you wouldn’t be as harsh on them as you are on yourself, reflect on why that is. Furthermore, try responding to yourself with the same kindness and support you would offer a friend. By adopting a more compassionate attitude towards yourself, you can build resilience and bounce back from setbacks more effectively.

tips from shanice marcelle

1. find time for quiet

Provincial championships are the culmination of all of the hard work leading up to those moments. It is really easy to get caught up in the business of the weekend and before you know it can be all over. Take some time between matches to find quiet and allow yourself some physical and mental rest even if for only 5 minutes!

2. get outside

Take each game one point at a time. If your down by 5 or up by 5 the game can change very easily. Pay attention to what needs to be done in each point rather than getting caught up in the big picture of winning or losing. The teams that can focus on the task at hand point by point are usually the wins that will end up most successful. And if your opponents by chance do something really incredible and intimidating (maybe a huge kill, or a big block) remember it’s only worth one point! Do your best to stay in each moment and the game will take care of itself.

3. stay present

Staying inside of a gym all day is hard on the body but difficult on the mind too. If the weather is nice grab your team and head outside to soak in some Vitamin D! I have always found the elements of nature to be calming – which for me calm helps bring me into the perfect state of mind.

4. trust your "stuff"

The best thing I ever did for my career was to take the pressure off myself by trusting my abilities and allowing myself to show up in whatever version of myself I could manage. There are days when some skills are great and maybe some skills feel totally off. Or maybe there are days when my opponents are playing better than me. All of those things and possibilities are ok! But, if you can trust yourself and the work that you have put in all season, and trust that your skills have gotten you this far the game becomes a little bit easier..



Your tournament/game-preparation may look different than most of your teammates’ and that’s okay! It’s all about getting YOURSELF ready for competition/a match and knowing what you need. Whether it’s finding a quiet space to do some visualization or listen to some music, or starting your warm-up prep prior to your teams, take the time to do whatever you need to get your head and body into game-mode!


Someone once told me that nervous butterflies are the same physiological feeling as when we feel excited — it’s the same thing happening in your body! That really helped me through my career, especially when getting ready for important games and moments. Whenever I felt ‘nervous’, I’d just tell myself that this is my body’s way of getting ready for a fight — that I’m feeling excited and will be ready for this game/moment. It really helped me shift my mindset into something positive!

3. Edge out the competition

Fuel fuel fuel. And hydrate. And rest. The days are long so make sure you’re having enough food!! Food = fuel and it’s going to allow you the extra edge against your competitors. Of course, drinking enough water throughout the days as well is so crucial — I’ll always throw in some electrolytes for something extra (my favourite is Organika or Nuun). Everyone is wanting to play their best in these big moments, but can YOU add on some small things (rest, hydration, fuel, mental preparation etc.) that will make a big difference and get a leg up on the competition?

4. Re-direct Your Focus

If things aren’t going well for you in one area of your game (ie. attacking), then try focusing all of your attention on another skill (ie. defence or high-fives or encouraging your teammates). Things don’t often get better when we’re hyper-fixated on a skill so this is a way to get out of your head and give yourself space to recalibrate. If I ever made a few mistakes in a row, I would focus on giving everyone high fives between points and celebrating hard (always celebrate your teammates!!) or if I got subbed out, I would still ensure I was engaged in the game and cheering loud. Getting subbed out is not a punishment, it’s just a way to take a breath and redirect your attention/focus!

5. It's just a game

Remember, at the end of the day you’re just playing volleyball. You’ve had countless practices preparing you for these games. Think of all the hours you’ve played pepper, practiced your serve/attacks/blocks/passing/setting etc… you know how to do these skills. Just because it’s Provincials, you haven’t forgot anything. Take a deep breath and know you’ve put in the work! Be confident in what you can bring to your team!
Oh, and have fun!! The weekend will be over before you know it! Don’t fret on any mistakes (no volleyball game or player is ever perfect), cheer loudly and support your teammates!

useful resources

player handout
coach handout
referee handout
webinar with dr. shaunna tayor

For more resources and support on mental health in volleyball, check out our mental health toolkit.