Holloway: ‘Delivering when needed’ key to USA momentum

More than the race to 25 points, United States captain Kathryn Holloway knows the game is way beyond what is happening physically on the court. In their campaign to defend their title, sports psychology has been a vital part of the USA’s system, especially after a tough loss to their Paralympic rivals China during pool play.

“Yesterday we had a really good solid sports psych meeting, where we talked about all of our stressors. We talked about what’s happening at home, we talked about what’s happening in Tokyo, and what happens on the court,” the Rio 2016 champion said.

“There was a lot of stress put up on sticky notes on a board, and we got to talk about what each of us kind of needs in a moment of stress. In (the game with) China I think we all felt helpless.”

USA are in Pool B where China, RPC and Rwanda are also trying to secure one of the two slots in the knockout rounds.

Being in a tough group puts pressure on the players like Holloway and more conspicuously on her teammate Bethany Zummo in their match against China.

“For the most part we can put that away, we compartmentalise that. But when it creeps in, it’s really hard to make it go away,” Zummo said.

“With those thoughts, it’s whether I’m going to stick to it, or I’m going to let it pass, and I stuck to it for a minute. And it was just enough for me to not be focused enough to be present in that serve-receive, and I noticed it affecting my play.”

But just as they are on the court, the reigning Paralympic champions always find a way to break through the obstacles ahead and for Zummo, she only needs a yarn and a crochet hook.

“Crocheting helps because it allows me to do something with my hands, it keeps me in the present, I’m just doing this thing, and it can kind of like, keep me here,” Zummo said.

Being the leader of the team, Holloway knows she and her teammates are dealing with challenges both collectively and individually. Yet she recognises the capacity of her squad to shake things off and deliver for the team when needed.

“There’s a lot that we have been through with this group, and everybody’s in different mental spaces. This is the hardest thing I think we’ve ever had to do so it’s no shock to me that that’s coming out on the court,” Holloway said.

“I think the secret to our momentum is that we each have something in us to give back to the team in that moment that we need it the most.”

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