Performing well in sport can bring with it many mental barriers at the best of times.
Couple this with playing in front of a crowd of thousands in the first ever AFLW league, and the pressure to perform builds exponentially.
Even star midfield player Kirsty Lamb has had to overcome numerous mental and physical barriers as she debuted with the Western Bulldogs’ AFLW team earlier this year.
Speaking with us earlier this week, Lamb told us of the many hurdles she overcame in order to get to this point.
Growing up playing football with boys, she explained, “I got kicked out of footy at under 15 and at that stage I didn’t really know of any women’s competitions.”
Although she eventually found a football club to play in, she focused her attention towards cricket, resulting in her being chosen to play in England at the start of last year.
At this point Lamb had to choose whether to go to England and risk being overlooked for the AFLW draft this year.
Despite only playing six games of VFL before making the decision to move to England, Lamb was still picked to form the Western Bulldogs Women’s side.
Although this was obviously a huge victory, as with any participation in a sport, there is never just one barrier to overcome in order to perform well.
Not only must Lamb balance working, studying and cricket along with her football, she spoke of the many mental barriers she’s faced in playing in the first women’s AFL league.
“Obviously it’s the first year so naturally you’re going to put pressure on yourself to make sure you get your name out there, or your inner belief that you’re good enough to be in this contest,” Lamb explained.
“When I was lying in bed last night I was thinking, ‘Am I good enough?’”
These mental barriers were particularly difficult to overcome when she received a one-match ban after the first Bulldogs game of the season.
“It was tough,” Lamb admitted.
“It was tough watching and not playing. Luckily I have good people around me who were very very supportive.”
Lamb explained that focusing on the things she could to do keep her occupied while she sat out for a week helped her get back on track for the next game.
“I did quite a few extra sessions just to make sure I was keeping up my fitness.”
These extra sessions paid off, with Lamb being the leading goal scorer in the Bulldogs vs Collingwood game last week.
Even this huge victory came with its pressures though, as Lamb says that as she performed well once, people expect her to do as well again.
“Sometimes it can do your head in.”
Added to that is the expectations she places on herself to perform well.
“Yeah you get pressure externally but internally you’re always going to put yourself under pressure.
Naturally you’re going to put yourself through a fair bit of pressure, and I’m that kind of person.”
So how does she deal with this kind of expectation?
Lamb explained that she focuses on one thing at a time and focuses on the things she can do throughout the game.
“Before the game I’ll probably sit down with the coaches and go through what I can contribute and try not to worry so much about things I can’t control.
Whatever it is, I make sure I control the things that I can control and not worry about the things that I have no control over.”
To learn more about how to put these tips into action, book into our Building Resilience: For Sporting Performance Workshop with Michael Inglis. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to maintain concentration to match the demands of your performance, how to cope with negative thoughts, emotions & physical stress and how to perform at your peak more often.