Who I Am
Friends and family on Maui always ask me to post updates on Facebook to let them know how I am doing while in California, but I cannot bring myself to ruin the pristine nature of my Facebook page. So here are all those updates for your reading pleasure, far away from the roving eyes of non-volleyball addicts (I assume you’re a volleyball player or fan since you’re reading this blog).
My name is Joshua Kulhavy-Sutherland and I am a 5’ 10” athlete who is trying to master the sport of beach volleyball. I believe that this road of mastery has many lessons hidden within it which help me to learn, grow, and be a better person in general. I live on Maui where I was born and raised, but currently spend a few months a year in California because that is where the best beach volleyball players reside.
Last summer was the first time I spent any significant time in California competing. And while it was an amazing experience, it left me burnt out and wanting to quit beach volleyball once and for all. I felt inadequate after 4 months of tournaments in the California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA). So I took a month long break, enjoyed Christmas with my family, and started planning out what I was going to do in my new life without beach volleyball.
But the world of beach volleyball has a way of dragging you back in and after my hiatus I was ready to get back to improving my game. However I realized I needed to make some adjustments to my mindset if I wanted to avoid the same burnout every season. Most notably I had to change the way I viewed competition. My old mindset was try to get good enough to crush everyone else around me. This encouraged me to compare my performance to others, a sure path to insanity. My new mindset revolves around trying to achieve mastery in this silly little game. To me this means constantly striving to reach my full potential.
Where I Live
For this trip I will be living in Santa Monica about two blocks north of the pier. The pier has 5 courts which constantly have people of all ages and skill levels playing on them. For a young volleyball player such as myself it feels like heaven. At almost any hour of the day I can head down there and play games to my hearts content. There’s no way of knowing what the games are going to be like or who I am going to be playing with or against. It could be the lunchtime crowd of wily old veterans, the resident open players, or even one of the legends of the game, out to play with his kid. However no matter who I am playing against, they are going to try very hard and I am going to learn something. Like I said the Santa Monica pier is heaven.
This weekend I played in 2 CBVA tournaments with a partner from last season. Overall it was a really tough weekend full of ups and downs. In the Doheny AAA on Saturday I managed to get my serve going for the first time since I’ve been back in California and had 8 aces in one game. It felt amazing being able to hit the spots I had been practicing all off season while under pressure and playing in a triple A. I also had an open player I respect come up and ask me if I would like to train with him, which was a really nice confirmation that I had improved my game in the off season.
However one of my matches in the Playa Del Rey AA on Sunday was the most frustrating game I have played in over a year. The wind really picked up and my passing went down the drain, I struggled to even hit the ball over the net, and worst of all my communication with my partner disappeared. At a time when I needed to communicate with my partner most and focus in on the game, I did the complete opposite and just zoned out. Safe to say, I was broken, and the resulting score of 21-8 showed it. This game was an excellent reminder to me that all the work I have done can disappear in an instant if I get frustrated and lose my focus.
I ended up failing to break out of pool in both the tournaments I played in and it really hit at my confidence. I put a lot of time into my volleyball game and tough losses can really hurt. Especially because they unearth a whole host of fears. Here I am in California trying to become a masterful beach volleyball player and I am failing to break pool in a double A tournament. It makes me feel like I am not as good as I need to be. It shows me that I have not completely left my old mindset behind. I am still connected to my results.
But these losses have also helped to show me my weaknesses. I learned that my shots are not as strong as I thought and that I have relied way too much on hitting the ball in the past. Against these opponents I need to increase my accuracy on everything that I put over the net. The wind also tears my game apart. I need to focus better on controlling the ball in windy games.
Needless to say I still have a lot of work to do, but it is amazing getting to compete against these excellent players and see where my game is weak and I am excited for the upcoming weeks. The road of mastery is tough but rewarding.
My name is Joshua Kulhavy-Sutherland and I am a 5’ 10” athlete who is trying to master the sport of beach volleyball. I believe that this road of mastery has many lessons hidden within it which help me to learn, grow, and be a better person in general. I live on Maui where I was born and raised, but currently spend a few months a year in California testing my skills.