HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — This week’s episode of SANDCAST was as much a celebratory podcast as it was our semi-monthly mailbag.
Why pop the champagne on a mostly random Wednesday in April?
In a single week, Tri Bourne won AVP New Orleans with Chaim Schalk, their first as a team; Savvy Simo matched a career-best fifth in New Orleans with Toni Rodriguez; and I took a seventh with Avery Drost in a last-second partnership, jetted home, went to the hospital, and, two days later, was holding my son, Austin.
Two days after that, we popped some champagne — a gift from Kim Muno, Zana Muno’s amazing and thoughtful mother — and chatted on a podcast. Even though the episode runs for more than an hour and a half, we didn’t get to as many questions as we would have liked; much of it is just us catching up on New Orleans, the arrival of the kiddo, and Savvy talking through a strange bout of panic attacks she’s been experiencing even while on the court. It was an unexpected deep dive into the mental side of beach volleyball, sports, and life, and a valuable one, I think, given how organically it appeared, although we were asked a number of questions on the topic of mental routines, breathing, and mindfulness in beach volleyball.
Bourne and I walked Simo and the listeners through our own routines that keep us as calm as we appear to be on the court, and both of us have a similar anchor: breath. Everything is centered on breathing, and an emptying of the mind. Bourne’s mind is so empty, in fact, that during a match at a Challenge in Itapema, he grew confused. The first set seemed to be going on and on and on. How was it not over?
And then he looked at the score — a rare occasion for Bourne — and realized the first set was, in fact, over, that he and Schalk had even won, and were up 5-2 in the second set.
What a lovely surprise.
I’ve never emptied my mind quite like Bourne, nor would I want to. I value the strategy and thinking side of a match too much to do so, choosing the right times to run the play I’ve been setting up for 30 or so points. That’s actually one of the main reasons he chose to partner with Schalk, who is known for an active mind both on and off the court — a solid strategist and also a travel wiz and numbers cruncher who finds the best deals. But a lifetime of golf has taught me that an empty mind is a good mind…
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