Lessons of Confidence from an Overhand Serve

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I see a huge similarity between coaches and therapists.  Are therapists not just coaches of rehabilitation?  A recent experience with organized sport reminded me that as coaches (and therapists) we need to believe in our clients and often we believe in them more than they do.  Yet, it is only through believing in them will they be able to develop the confidence to succeed.

I was at a provincial volleyball tournament with my daughter.  She is 12.  All season she has been working on her overhand serve.  She is the tiniest kid on the team and all year was continuing to build the strength required to execute this serve successfully.  Just before the tournament she starts landing these in practice.  All tournament she was getting her overhand serve over and in.  Then, they are playing the bronze medal game.  She gets to serve twice and misses both times.  Two points for the other team.  Game point and she is serving.  Knowing her struggles, she serves underhand, they win the point and the first game.  In the second game she tries her overhand serve again and misses.  The score is now 23/22 for them and she is serving again.  She looks at her coach and he says “give’er” (code for serve overhand and give it all you have).  She does, and lands her serve and one point later they have won the game and the medal.

I was brought to tears reflecting on this.  Her coach had more faith in her than she had in herself.  Given the choice, she would have played it safe and served underhand.  But he knew she could do it, and was more interested in her own development as a player, then in the impact of a missed serve on the game.  That is a great coach.

As a therapist, I use this as a reminder regarding my role.  I find that my clients will thank ME for “everything” and I have to remind them that I didn’t do anything, THEY did.  I just believed in them and provided them with encouragement, strategies and tools to be successful. My daughter’s coach did not serve overhand in the final seconds of an important game, but he gave her the strength to believe that she could. That is our role as parents, coaches and therapists:  believe in those we are leading and they will obtain the ability to believe in themselves and later in others.  That is truly paying it forward.  


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