A WINNING STATE OF MIND: Mentality Matters for Tompkins' Tchouangwa
Cindy Tchouangwa made an impressive leap from her sophomore to her junior season last year.
The Tompkins outside hitter’s kills per set jumped from 3.1 to 3.9. Her kill percentage rose from 39.7 to 47.3 percent. She made nine fewer attack errors despite playing 31 more sets.
Tchouangwa even saw considerable improvement on defense, averaging 2.6 digs per set compared to 1.4 as a sophomore.
“Mentally, I just wasn’t as strong as a sophomore,” Tchouangwa said. “Last season, it was more meditation. More visualization. More repetitive. I was more confident with how I played and how I carried myself, and just had more confidence in my ability to perform.
“I was way more explosive and would actually go and get balls, whereas before I was lax and just expecting things to happen.”
Prior to Tchouangwa’s junior season, club coach and 1992 Olympian Tara Cross-Battle introduced to her the importance of “visualizing how you want to perform.”
Tchouangwa started meditating on the morning of every game day, either in her room or outside, for about 10-15 minutes.
“I saw me having complete control over my game, jumping over people and hitting over blocks and being really precise with my movements and actions,” Tchouangwa said of what she visualized.
It worked. Tchouangwa led the Falcons in kills, was third in digs and added 67 blocks and 24 aces in 2021.
As she heads into her senior campaign, Tchouangwa plans to work her mind even more. During club games this summer, she started giving herself pep talks before plays to keep her focused.
For instance, when she’s passing, Tchouangwa mutters to herself, “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” to reposition her body. Reset herself.
When she’s hitting, Tchouangwa tells herself to push whenever jumping or approaching a ball to have more aggressive steps and elevation, which avoids the broad jumping that oftentimes produced errors or mistakes before.
“I’m going to add more stuff like that to my game, because it’s going to help me a lot,” she said of the internal commendation.
Tchouangwa started playing volleyball as a third grader at Wood Creek Elementary in Katy. She was always bigger, stronger and faster than her peers.
As a result, she never lacked confidence.
Tchouangwa always knew she would be a college volleyball player, and she will be. She’s committed to Rice University.
“I just always kind of assumed it would all work out for me,” she said. “I love volleyball.”
This season, Tchouangwa wants to be more explosive to the ball. She’s also excited to assume a stronger leadership role and be a positive influence on a young Tompkins team.
“I feel like I’m very uplifting, and I want to have a difference in the lives of these young girls,” Tchouangwa said.
“One action can change someone’s day. I try to compliment someone every day, make a new friend every day.
“I strive to be kind to everyone and include everyone. Just grow and be a better person.”