Momentum is Shifty: Follow It.


Momentum can shift in a time out. I love me some huddle (photo: - these are my people).
Coaches may call a timeout to shift momentum. I love me some huddle (photo: – these are my people).

Volleyball is a game of momentum.

We train. We perfect movements and skills. We condition. We believe.

Still, a game is determined in large part by the shift in momentum and how we with those shifts – the loss of it and what to do when we get it back.

For example, we were playing our biggest rival in college. We had lost the first two sets and came back to win the second two sets and were battling out a fifth set in rally score.

In the 90’s, we were still under the regular scoring rule where you had to serve to get a point. The fifth set was usually pretty tight, but we took an early lead and were primed to win. I’d jump served us to a large lead and all we needed was two maybe three points (don’t remember exactly*) to win the match. Then the momentum shifted.

We lost the serve. In rally score, however, two points is nothing. Easy peasy…unless.

When the momentum shifted, we never got it back. I was stuck in the back row and only able to hit from behind the ten foot line. I did not execute from the back row and our team struggled in the next few rotations.

Our coach called two time-outs and we scrapped our way back to get possession of the ball, but it wasn’t enough.

We lost our big lead and we ended up losing the game.

Broken hearts everywhere. Daggers right to the soul.

I mean, twenty years later I can still taste my tears. Some losses cut really deep (I’m such a brat).

Momentum is powerful.

In sports it’s the difference between winning and losing.

When a team loses momentum they have to fight to get it back.

That takes grit and determination. It doesn’t shift on it’s own.

Momentum in our lives is a similar process.

But it’s not forever. It’s how we deal with it that wins or loses games.

Think about it this way – momentum is a push. It’s a start. It’s us on the blocks and we’re the first ones off.

Keep the momentum and we close the game out right now. We take the win. But what if it shifts? What do we do when we lose momentum.

It’s how we respond that wins or loses games. I could deconstruct that old game all day (sometimes I do). I could say that I got stuck in the back row. I could say that our middle blocker was injured. I could say that we didn’t pass well or that we didn’t dig enough balls. All those things are true.

But the bigger truth is that we didn’t deal well with the loss of momentum.

I wrote my booty off in December and January. I wrote for like four weeks – solid. I researched, queried, interviewed, made phone calls to people I’d never met and stayed up late putting things together. It was work. It was tedious and there was no reward. I thought I’d never see that work come to fruition.

But all that tedious, unrewarding work was quietly building momentum.

In fact, I have a little of that momentum right now. Several of my pieces have ran over the past few weeks and it’s been fun to watch. But I can’t sit here and admire anything for too long. I need to continue my work. I need to keep putting in the hours. I need to stay up just a little bit late and stretch the hours I have in my day to get things done.

If you don’t work, there is no momentum.

Momentum does not just show up because you are lucky or because you think you deserve it or by sitting on your hands.

Momentum is the result of work.

We lost that game to our biggest rival because the other team out worked us. They dealt with momentum better than we did.


If you lose an opportunity. If you lose a game. If you lose a relationship it’s because you stopped working.

Work builds momentum.


*(Exact scores and details of the match are fuzzy. Fuzzy because the tears in my eyes blur out my actual experience. Losing is hard, people!)

Published by pytallman

Wife, mother, Christ follower.

One thought on “Momentum is Shifty: Follow It.

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