Get The Best To Be Your Best is about more than just game-day moments. At Eastbay, we want you to be your best both on and off the court, and that means working hard, playing great, and setting an example for other athletes.
Beach volleyball player Lane Carico is well versed in all three. She knows how to put in the physical work, training every day to be fast and explosive in the sand. She also knows that succeeding requires more than just physical strength and skill.
That’s because no amount of reps or sprints can prepare you for when something unexpectedly goes wrong on the court. When distractions pop up or disaster strikes, you have to be on top of your mental game in order to defeat them. For Lane, the best way to do that is by remaining calm.
“Maintaining a level head throughout the highs and lows of the sport is really helpful, because nothing can really get to you,” Lane explained. “You’re just in the moment, and super instinctual, and things are just happening more easily than they would be if you’re getting taken away by some call the ref made or you made a mistake and you dwell on it too long. Your recovery time from any of those distractions really makes a difference. The shorter it can be, the better.”
But even when you’re operating on instinct and playing in the moment, things might not always go your way. Every game has a loser, and sometimes that will be you. Or, even worse, despite your hours spent training and building strength, injury might strike. The way you react in those low moments can make or break your season. You can let them destroy you, or, like Lane, use them to make yourself a better athlete.
“When I get injured or lose a big match, I stay positive because I see every experience as an opportunity to learn and improve,” Lane said. “From that standpoint, if I have something go wrong, like a loss or injury, I get this huge fire building inside and I’m super motivated to take action to improve.
“There are going to be a lot of ups and downs and learning moments, so just stay positive through all of that and enjoy the process you’re going through. If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to really be fueled by what you’re doing and want to keep doing it to the best of your ability.”
Part of that improvement is building up not just yourself, but your entire team. As a professional beach volleyball player, Lane now competes with a single partner, but she carries with her the valuable lessons about teamwork and leadership she learned during her years spent playing for the University of Miami.
“Treating people as individuals and with a lot of respect are things that really stuck with me from a leadership standpoint,” Lane said. “Having compassion for everybody on the team and trying to understand everybody and where they’re coming from…that really brings people together, because they feel respected and they feel like you know them and you’re trying to genuinely help them.”
The lesson here? Strength is what wins games — physical, mental, and emotional. A team with strong off-court bonds is unbreakable on the court, just like an individual player with mental fortitude rises to meet every challenge. Lane takes pride in living this philosophy, both in the way she plays on the court and the way she inspires others.
“If I could choose what kind of role model I could be now as a professional working towards a huge goal, I would want to be somebody who inspires other people to really honor their potential for greatness and to believe in themselves and keep working hard at whatever it is that they want to make reality,” Lane said.
Her final piece of advice? “Just get out there and get the experience and really be a student of the game. Be super unafraid of being crazy about the sport and crazy about learning.”