READ: Thoughts on the ‘S’ Word

2
Sep
2020

Alyson Spinas-Valainis

The 'S' word. It's a talk I've had many times with my athletes, female athletes especially.

Need a clue?

It's conceptually ingrained in us (particularly women) to immediately offer it from a very young age.

Chances are, you've got a pretty good idea of the word now. So, let's have a wee little chat about it.

Yes, as you've probably guessed, the word is 'Sorry.' It’s one of the very first lessons we have as children: you smack someone in the face over a toy, you apologise.

Simple, that one.

But somewhere along the line, especially as women, the word sorry becomes an impulse: Someone bumps into you on the train, you offer up an apology; you speak up at the same time as a coworker, you offer the immediate apology and allow them to go first.

At the age of 15, you turn down that boy who’s being overly pushy with you, but you sign every reason for saying no to him with the “I'm really sorry.”

I think you probably get the point here.

But where does that fit into sport, athletics, and a team?

Being an athlete is an opportunity to grow as a person, mentally, physically, and collectively. Those socially learned behaviours you’ve been molded into stay on the sideline when you step onto the field.

Here, with us, you are an athlete. You are powerful, strong, and capable.

There is no room for empty words you don't even know why you use, aside from the fact it is a learned behaviour. By excessively apologising for every mistake, misread, and overthrow, you negate the work that is being done, the process of improving, and the battles we face together as a team.

Additionally, the 'S' word pulls away accountability. Instead of needlessly throwing the S word out for every little thing, error, or misread, actively choose to take accountability and ownership: ‘that’s mine,’ ‘I’ve got you next time,’ or 'next one is mine.'

When we use words excessively and without purpose, they begin to lose their meaning and impact. There is a time and place for genuine apologies. You'll know when those times are after you reclaim your use of the 'S' word. And if you throw a ball when someone isn't looking and they get hit in the face, then of course, please apologise.

But the impulsive, empty, and conditioned 'sorry?'

There is no room for it on the field.

Because on the field? With us? Take up space. Own your actions. Grow, experience, fail, and succeed. Carve your way. You are a powerful, capable, developing athlete. And there is nothing to apologise for in that.

#AxeTheSWord

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About Alyson Spinas-Valainis

Alyson Spinas-Valainis

Alyson joined BaseballSoftballUK and the British Softball Federation in October 2019. Born in Iowa, Alyson has played softball professionally in New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Germany, The Netherlands, and Poland since graduating from Bradley University. In her role with BSUK and the BSF, Spinas-Valainis is responsible for increasing the number of women and girls playing fastpitch softball, provides operational and technical support to the Great Britain Fastpitch League and plays a lead role in the organisation of the Softball Academy and High Performance Academy.

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