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As both a professional athlete competing internationally and a mother navigating the challenges of balancing motherhood and career, beach volleyball player Betsi Flint has a unique perspective to share.

It’s a story we’ve discussed before, and one that is close to my heart, but as a 7x AVP Champ and Olympian, I couldn’t wait to hear about Betsi’s mental preparation techniques, evolving views on competition and body image, and lessons learned about finding purpose beyond just wins and losses.

Motherhood and Professional Sports

In our conversation today, Betsi shares candidly about the financial challenges of competing professionally in volleyball, shedding light on the often-overlooked realities of life as an athlete. We also delve into the delicate balance of motherhood and athletic career, exploring the strategies and support systems that Betsi relies on to thrive in both roles.

Evolving Perspectives on Competition

One of the highlights of our discussion is Betsi’s approach to mental preparation and coping with the ups and downs of competitive sports. From journaling to working with a mental coach, she reveals the techniques that have helped her stay focused and resilient on the volleyball court.

But perhaps most inspiring is Betsi’s evolving perspective on competition and purpose. She shares how her views have shifted to embrace the idea of competitors as allies in the journey towards personal growth, and how finding fulfillment beyond athletic achievements has brought newfound motivation and joy to her life.

So, whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a new parent navigating the challenges of balancing family and career, or simply someone seeking inspiration to pursue your passions, Betsi offers valuable lessons for any high performer looking to balance their passion with life responsibilities.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Finances of Professional Sports: Athletes rely on tournament placements, sponsors, and their own funds.
  • Motherhood and Sports: How support from family, prioritizing recovery and sleep, and employing mental skills help to overcome challenges.
  • Coping with Loss: Learn how Betsi uses Journaling, working with a mental coach, and using self-talk to help with mental preparation.
  • Perspective on Competition: Can appreciating how others push us to higher levels provide a better perspective?
  • Finding Purpose and Fulfillment: Why pursuits beyond just athletic achievements like inspiring others and connecting with family is important for ongoing motivation.

Listen to Betsi’s episode

If you found today’s episode enlightening and want to hear more, make sure to subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast platform. Be sure to share this episode!

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Episode Chapters

  • Sponsorships and motherhood in professional volleyball. (3:27)
  • Motherhood, athleticism, and overcoming challenges after pregnancy. (7:55)
  • The power of mental skills. (14:05)
  • Athletic career goals, challenges, and competition. (25:45)
  • Mental preparation and partnership strategies in beach volleyball. (30:38)
  • Body image and performance after motherhood. (36:56)
  • Competition, flow states, and losing gracefully in volleyball. (44:55)

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Transcript: Professional Beach Volleyball Player Betsi Flint

Sonya Looney 0:00
Good night. That’s, uh, you’re the first volleyball player we’ve had on the podcast. So welcome to the show.

Betsi Flint 0:06
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Sonya Looney 0:08
You are talking to a lot of endurance athletes and just people interested in high performance. So I think you’re in a great spot.

Betsi Flint 0:19
Yes, I’m excited. I’ve been listening to your episodes and love all the mental psychology things you’re getting into. So I’m excited to get into it.

Sonya Looney 0:27
Thanks. So can you tell us a little bit about the journey to become a professional volleyball player?

Betsi Flint 0:35
Yeah. So yeah, I’m professional beach volleyball player, Team USA. I have a two year old daughter, she’s almost three, keep me super busy. And it’s definitely a challenging sport. I love it. It is hard to make money, just for people who don’t know we get money based on our performance. And we just have to work your way through the ranks. And a lot of it’s on our own dime when we start and then we really rely on sponsors. And yeah, our results in our finishes. So yeah, it’s a challenging sport, but I love it. Obviously, I love competing love beach volleyball is just too on to so I love that I am in full control of the match. And it’s just me and my partner. And we have to find solutions and figure out ways to win.

Sonya Looney 1:25
So did you always grow up playing volleyball or were there other sports involved?

Betsi Flint 1:28
I played other sports, I felt like I was a tomboy. Growing up, I wanted to be like my brother, I played softball, I played basketball, volleyball, I really love basketball, I had kind of a bad experience with coaches, my freshman year of high school and decided just to stick with volleyball, I had a really good friend group, and enjoyed learning and getting better there. And I played a little bit of beach volleyball in high school, but nothing too serious. I was not very good, and eventually got better. You just I mean, you naturally do with the experience, there’s just two of us and you get every single touch. So that’s pretty great.

Sonya Looney 2:06
So how do you decide or where does the mentality come from? of wow, I could really do this, like professionally or I can go to the Olympics doing this?

Betsi Flint 2:16
Yeah, I, my first year out of college, I, the first tournament me and my partner played in, I didn’t qualify for the tournament, which was a bummer. We’re excited. There’s this qualifier to get into the main draw. And we didn’t even make it into the main draw to make money. And it was really disappointing. And through that year, we eventually qualified and we just kept improving finishes with it, like went and orders like a ninth, the seventh, the fifth. And we ended up winning a tournament that first year. And that kind of told me I’m like, okay, I can I can do this. Like, at first it was kind of a hobby, like I didn’t really know, like, is this what I’m going to be doing? I had other aspirations too. But then, yeah, I loved love this sport and love that I had some success. IQ, you know, gave me a taste of maybe that I can do this. And that gave me some confidence.

Sonya Looney 3:08
I want to ask you a bit about the the business side of the sport because you said that it’s hard to make money. I think people always assume especially televised sports like oh, these These athletes are making all this money. And cycling is also a sport where it’s really difficult to make money. Can you tell us just about your experience on the business side? Like how much does it cost to enter a tournament? Like what is the typical price person? What are your sponsorship relationships like?

Betsi Flint 3:33
Yeah, to enter a tournament and AVP, which is our domestic tour that we compete in here. It costs $200 To enter, and I’d say minimum, you’re leaving with, I think you’re splitting $2,000. If you lose two matches, plus you’re traveling to this tournament. So you’re your airfare. They do provide hotel when the Tournament starts, which is awesome. They started that a couple years ago. So that’s been incredibly helpful. Internationally, it’s free for us to enter our USA staff does that for us. We do have to travel on our own and we’re I’m traveling probably two weekends at least of every month and we’re in season and we have to pay for hotel until the tournament starts and as soon as you get out of the tournament you have to pay for the hotel on your own which is hard. We’ve been left in some situations where there’s not rooms or you have to scramble and you lost the APM and now you don’t have a hotel room. So there’s some challenges we do get support from USA volleyball because we’re top athletes like when I first started out we did not but now they give a travel stipend which does help cover the cost it doesn’t cover everything. And I do get a monthly athlete stipend which helps for sure but you know I have a family trying to make link to the most will split Is $30,000 We win a tournament. And it trickles down from there. World Champs has bigger Olympics is our highest stage, but you don’t get paid for that. There’s no point at all. There’s no money involved. Yeah, and it’s about developing relationships with sponsors, which really, a lot of it is who you know, and that rarely gets your foot in the door. And that’s helpful. I wouldn’t say Until recently, I’ve had a lot of success with sponsors, because I’ve been like, improving in the ranks, which is awesome. But it’s really hard for like the middle tier, or if you’re trying to become one of the top athletes just to fund yourself right away. What

Sonya Looney 5:41
are some of the expectations of the sponsorships.

Betsi Flint 5:46
Um, a lot of it is social media, which is challenging, I don’t like to think of myself as an influencer, I’d rather be known for, like my sport and doing well on the sand. But a lot of its social media, monthly things, shouting him out, and all that. So I do have my sponsors, and sponsors, go macro, left on Friday is a great swimsuit company. Just started working with just ingredients, which is a whole food nutrition company, and bad Newport Resort and Spa, and Adelson PC. So I have a great group of sponsors that support me as a mom, and an athlete. And that’s really important to me.

Sonya Looney 6:31
So that helps. Number one, like pay you an income and then helps cover the costs to go to these events. Yes, for sure. For sure. Okay. Yeah, similar to cycling. A lot of people are private to Euro. So some people get funding on a team, but a lot of people have to go after their own sponsors. Do you guys have an agent that you work with? Or do people typically go on their own to find these brand relationships?

Betsi Flint 6:53
I’ve done most of it on my own, I recently have gotten an agent. So that’s been great. She’s been helpful in getting me on some podcasts like this. So I’m very grateful for that. But a lot of it has been on my own. And it’s been fun to navigate. But it’s also hard now that I’m a mom and juggling so many things. It’s hard to eyes, all the sponsorship stuff, when I’d rather just be focusing on my training. And then when I’m home, I want to be focusing on being a mom and not trying to like mix the two.

Sonya Looney 7:25
Totally. And then also the energy and effort of finding the sponsorships and staying in touch with the sponsors and all of the because it’s a full time job to be your own agent. Yes, yeah. So I want to talk about motherhood because like, we have a couple of things in common and yeah, one of them is I have a my son’s almost four, my daughter’s almost two. What was that like making that decision to have a baby as a professional athlete?

Betsi Flint 7:55
It was challenging. It was, I mean, a decent time I did get pregnant during COVID, where tournaments were stopped. And I kind of knew there was things weren’t going to go back as normal right away. So I was very fortunate that we got pregnant fairly quick. That was helpful, but it was hard. I didn’t know. I’m like, Well, my physically be able to come back. Well, I won’t have the desire and drive to compete, because I’ve heard of people who kind of just lose their competitiveness. And I’ve really flourished and loved being a mom and an athlete. I feel like it’s definitely made me better. It’s given me more perspective. It’s definitely made me rethink my why’s and why I’m competing. And, yeah, it’s definitely made me level up. I think I’m a better person and a better athlete because of it.

Sonya Looney 8:46
How did you overcome the uncertainty of like, I don’t know what my body’s gonna be like afterwards, or what’s gonna happen? Yeah,

Betsi Flint 8:52
knowing it’s not in my control, I can only do so much and that family is way more important than volleyball is. It’s hard to think about that and put in perspective when volleyball is like everything right now. But at the end of the day, like nothing matters more than my family. And when I leave this earth, that’s all I’m gonna have with me. It’s not going to be the things or the volleyball so just yeah, having that in mind and I did I work with sports psychologists who coming back because it’s, it’s hard having the self doubts and our bodies change. And there’s just so much like, will I get a partner? Will I be as good I don’t know what’s gonna happen. There’s so much uncertainty and that was just helpful to talk to someone about that. A lot of it’s, you know, I like to have control and know what’s going to happen. So it was helpful just to talk out in Yeah, things worked out. Well for me, I had great people say me, my husband to slowed me down when I wanted to start working out right away, but I knew it was important to slow down and let my body heal. he’ll after having after delivering for us. And I got an amazing beach volleyball partner right after Emily day who I played with before I was pregnant. And it worked out the timing wise that we got to play together right after. So it just felt natural when I got back on the sand that she was my partner. And it felt like things hadn’t really changed, which was nice. And then a great coach who really stuck with me when it was hard. You know, jumping again, when you haven’t jumped in so long is challenging. But yeah, we’ve figured out some solutions and found a way and that first year, after I had her I played about six months after I had her, I did think I was gonna be back playing three months, which is ridiculous that I thought that would be very challenging. But I did get back out there at six months, and ended up making the finals of the Manhattan Beach AVP, which is one of the biggest ones we have. So that was reassuring for me that I can still do this. And I knew I wasn’t even close to where I was before having a baby at that time. So that was really helpful for me.

Sonya Looney 11:13
Yes, it sounds like also, just having a lot of supportive people around you a good teammate coaching good psychology, you know, sports psychologists, all these different things helped you be that like that was that’s an incredible success. Like congratulations, and was such a young baby.

Betsi Flint 11:29
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I’m sure you felt those challenges as well.

Sonya Looney 11:35
I also wanted to talk to you, just because I think this is important to bring up is talking about pelvic floor health, especially postpartum and you mentioned your sport, use a lot of jumping and like quick movements. And you know, how much time did you spend on pelvic floor physio,

Betsi Flint 11:49
a lot, I had a friend, she’s a midwife. And she recommended that I go see a pelvic floor physical therapist around like late in my second trimester. And so I was able to meet with her. And my goal was not to be by jumped because I had heard people, you know, going through those challenges. And that was really, really helpful to work with her. Consistently. At the end of my pregnancy, I did think it helped my delivery as well. And then after as well, I wanted to jump into things a lot faster than she thought. And I listened to her advice, because she knew my goals. And she had the experience. So I did a ton of pelvic floor work. And I would recommend it to all moms all new moms. And when you’re pregnant, I think it’s overlooked in our healthcare system, I think that it should be fully covered, and everyone should have access to it. So I’m very fortunate that I had access to it. And definitely encourage people that it’s worth the money, it’s worth going to see someone

Sonya Looney 12:52
I want to keep on this motherhood thread for a while because I’ll send it to you. I did this documentary that was touring around with these international film festivals last year. But it was about like, a lot of things. But one of the things I said in it was that there’s a lot of amazing women doing great things out there who are moms, but their stories are just not getting told. So I think it’s really important to talk about all the different types of journeys that people have had.

Betsi Flint 13:17
Yeah, I am interested in saying that I think that’s incredible. I think now that I’m a mom, I have different perspectives. Like I’ve grown up, I’m in this new universe of Yeah, understanding that everyone is going through different challenges. And yeah, just being there to support other women and other people because everyone’s going through something. And it’s you don’t always see it. People don’t talk about it. People think I have it all put together. But it’s I don’t, it’s really hard. And for me, as a mom, I really learned a lot of it’s about regulating my own emotions to be the best mom I can be. Because it’s very challenging when you have a kid that’s whining all the time, and they have all these unmet needs. And so do I. And I don’t always recognize that then I’m tired, and I’m hungry, and I’m stressed and all these things. So it’s definitely been a wake up call for me in my journey. And it’s helped me definitely better myself.

Sonya Looney 14:17
How did you manage the things that go on with having a baby what when you got back into competing, like, I’m not sure if you’re breastfeeding or not, and whatever. But like, if you were you know, that type of thing that energy demands are that the sleep deprivation that comes with having a baby and also I don’t know if you’ve started experiencing this as well, but like, you get sick a lot when you have toddlers because your kids are always sick. So how have you navigated those waters?

Betsi Flint 14:44
Yeah, I’m one fortunate my husband has been so helpful. He works afternoon shifts usually so he’s watching her in the morning time while I’m training and getting everything I need to get done. And then he goes to work in the afternoon. So It’s hard on us because we don’t see each other as often as we used to. But it’s been so helpful. And I do think it helps. She’s not in a full day care. So she’s not getting sick as often. Until recently, we got her into like a gym daycare, so my husband could work out. And she could have some socialization too. So that’s been great. Initially, you know, the sleep deprivation, you can’t prepare for that. It’s so hard. Definitely having my goals and my why really helped me get going on the days I didn’t want to, and being smart with, if I’m not sleeping, well, I’m not going to do all our training, I’m going to do less of a lift, or I’m going to talk to my trainer about how we can just things so I don’t get hurt. Because we know that can be a reason why we get injured as athletes is a lack of sleep. So yeah, I don’t think I’ve I think we kind of just get used to it. My daughter has never been a great sleeper. I don’t want to jinx it. But this last week, she finally figured something out where she’s sleeping through the night. Or that for at least two and a half years. Like we’re up in the night for multiple hours. It’s very challenging. I’m still navigating it. It’s definitely I’m like, How did I use to function with all the all this sleep? And now I don’t have it, but it’s okay, we make it work?

Sonya Looney 16:26
And what mental skills are you employing? Because it’s easy to like, look at other people and say like that you’re competing against and saying, Well, they didn’t have, you know, the same type of training, they don’t have all these other challenges that I have, like, I’ve experienced that before. And I have to shut I have to shut off that narrative because it’s not a productive one like does does that ever happen to you?

Betsi Flint 16:43
Sometimes, but I almost think it gives me an edge like to think that like, I’m going through all these challenges, you have no idea. You go home and you sit on your couch and you recover at night and I am running springs after my toddler. For sure, sometimes those thoughts come up like I can be doing more. This past year, I felt like I didn’t condition as much as I had in the past. Because the days I would condition four plus times a week, I didn’t have energy to be a mom and I was just not happy. And it was really challenging. So I ended up conditioning like one to two times a week. And I still felt in great shape shape when I was playing. And I was a better mom because of it. So I’ve just had to make some adjustments. There was a tournament this year, we played an AVP Manhattan Beach open during the hurricane or the tropical storm. And they had pushed our matches to start at 7am. And so we had to be up super early. We had to be there by 6am. Which normally tournaments start at like 9am, maybe eight. And I was hyped. I was like no one else wakes up at this time I knew up at 5am This is when I thrive. So I just thought it gave me an edge. And we ended up playing three matches in a day and won the tournament. So we’ll there’s a cool thing to see. And yeah, just use all that thing. All the motherhood as an edge for performance.

Sonya Looney 18:17
Yeah, congrats. And it really sounds like you have a lot of awareness around like your self talk and your narrative. Because I heard you already multiple times, you know, shift to saying not even shift away from something but I heard you focus on the things that are gonna be beneficial to you instead of all the things that might not be beneficial.

Betsi Flint 18:36
Yeah, I feel like I’ve had really good mental skills coach coaches along the way, I volleyball at Loyola Marymount University in California. And our program definitely focused on mental skills. And I coached as well for five years. And that really helped me as well. And we worked with so many different people. So I had a lot of people just, you know, different. Sometimes you say the same thing, but in a different way. And it clicks. So it’s been helpful. I think that’s one thing I want to work on this year, is getting back with, like a mental skills coach or a sports psychologist. I didn’t work with one as much last year. And I think it just so beneficial, every single, like month to meet with someone. So that’s a goal this year of mine, just to keep meeting with someone. But yeah, I’ve learned to hunt the good. It’s easy for me to focus on negatives. And I’ve got to catch myself and find the positives, especially after matches after losses. It’s easy just to go down the rabbit hole what you did wrong, but there’s a lot of things that we do, right, and we’ve gotta acknowledge that too. Yeah.

Sonya Looney 19:49
And also with failure. There’s a lot of personalization like I am a failure or taking on way too much responsibility for something that happened that might not you might not have to take all the responsibility for it.

Betsi Flint 20:01
Yes. Especially with I mean, two of us out there. You can. It feels like the weights on our shoulders for sure at times. I

Sonya Looney 20:09
want to get into the mental side of your sport. But I want to ask you, you said that after you became a mom, your wife shifted. So what is your why? Like, what did it shift from? And what is it now?

Betsi Flint 20:19
Yeah, before having her I don’t think I really dove into why I was competing. I love competing. I love winning, I hate losing. And there was not necessarily a big purpose. And after having her I needed to make that adjustment because it was hard to leave for international tournaments. It was hard to go sacrifice all this time away from my daughter. So now for sure. My why is to inspire young athletes, young moms, any mom that they can continue to pursue their dreams, no matter what’s going on, whether they’re a mom or not, and definitely to inspire my daughter, that as she grows up to pursue her passion to the fullest, and I hope she can look back and see that one day. She probably won’t remember a ton right now. But yeah, those are my big why’s. And they feel me when when we lose on the road. And we’re going to another tournament and I just want to be home, it’s a good reminder to think about those things.

Sonya Looney 21:24
Yeah, sounds like a big shift from almost like self focus to other focus, like how is this serving others, in addition to, you know, helping myself, but how is this serving others?

Betsi Flint 21:34
Yes, for sure.

Sonya Looney 21:37
Do you ever feel pressure around that, like, I’m speaking just from my own experience? Sometimes when I met some of these races, maybe they’re not going as well as I hoped that they would go? And then I worry that that’s showing people that well, maybe you can’t perform a high level and have kids or maybe you can’t do it and you’re showing the world that you can’t do it? Did you ever have that like doubt or pressure?

Betsi Flint 21:58
I’m less about other people thinking about that. More about like my daughter and my family like feeling guilty that I’m not performing and my husband’s sacrificing all this time and energy to watch my daughter while I’m gone. And obviously, it’s easier in hindsight, like, thinking about it now. It’s like, there’s so much more to it. But in the moment so hard to have that perspective. Yeah, so I’d see where you’re coming from for sure.

Sonya Looney 22:33
What do you do whenever those thoughts come up?

Betsi Flint 22:40
I’m really good at not talking about things, and like internalizing and getting out. But I played with an incredible partner this year that was able to help me with that. She definitely verbalizes things better. So I was able to talk to her about it. And she could reassure me like it’s not always about the results. It’s about inspiring Cora, so she can see this when she’s older. But yeah, I’ve, I was thinking about a little bit about New Year’s resolutions, I hadn’t, like written it down or anything. But I do want to get back into journaling. And just, I have a good job, I do a good job on the sand with debriefing. Like, I’ll practice when I have matches when. But it’s hard in the busyness of motherhood to like sit down sometimes and just think about what’s on my mind. So I want to get back into that where I’m thinking more about when reflecting on the day. And not just volleyball, like, you know, it’s so hard at the end of the day, I just want to go to sleep, or I want to, I don’t want to but I probably need to do the dishes and clean up everything. I don’t have time to actually like reflect and think about things for myself. So I don’t want to get back into that. No helped me.

Sonya Looney 24:02
Yeah, I’m doing this some Sunday, this master’s degree in positive psychology right now. And like meaning and purpose is part of positive psychology. And one of the exercises that we had to do last semester was write down our like, one of the meaning stories from our life and then write down from the research why that was meaningful and created purpose. And I found it really interesting that in the research, like the storytelling piece, and the reflective piece of something that you did, can greatly increase your sense of meaning and purpose. So the journaling, I’ve been thinking about that as well of how writing about certain things that are happening can actually create more meaning and purpose.

Betsi Flint 24:40
Yeah, that’s incredible. I did start my friend gave me this journal to write to my daughter Cora when I’m away and I’m missing her. So I did do that a little bit this year, like writing down where I was and what I was going through. And yeah, I’m I guess I’m very driven by her and sometimes I forget to like do For myself, I can definitely take that into practice and do more for myself.

Sonya Looney 25:06
And so you’re shooting for the Olympics for the summer, which is like crazy that they’re already here again. How does that process the Olympic process work for volleyball?

Betsi Flint 25:16
Yeah, it is your best well finishes over the course of a year and a half. So last January 2023, until this June 2024. And you plan a ton of tournaments and is your best 12 finishes. For us, I think right now we’re ranked number eight or nine in the world, we have to be the top two US teams, so only two teams per country, we do have a team that’s like number two and number three. So it’s a little out of reach just as far as like, my partner had knee surgery, and she’s getting another knee surgery. So it’s challenging, like working through that to where it felt like after, like World Championships, it was a big disappointment that oh, man, Olympics are the doors closing, which was really hard. It’s been challenging.

Sonya Looney 26:09
Yeah, I imagine that’s really challenging. Especially because, yeah, like, especially with kids, you’re you’re really trying to make the most out of everything that you’re doing.

Betsi Flint 26:18
Yeah, for sure. But it goes back to my why, like, yeah, for sure. I want to be in the Olympics. And I want to win a medal in the Olympics. But will that satisfy me? Well, that, is that enough. Like we’re always I feel like as athletes sometimes chasing this high in the high of winning, and as soon as you want a tournament, I mean, in the next couple of days, it’s over. Like, you’re back to reality. I’m sure you’ve felt that before.

Sonya Looney 26:46
I’m laughing. And that’s the entire reason I’m in this master’s degree is to help myself and high achievers find more fulfillment in their accomplishments instead of just being like, Okay, what’s next? Like, I did that thing, check. And it’s the things that you’re talking about. It’s, it’s realizing that these, like, there are these like accolades or goals that you can go for. And they’re important, and they’re huge. But at the end of the day, like, what are the other goals there that that bring a connect to your values and that are also meaningful? It’s not just one thing?

Betsi Flint 27:16
Yeah. A lot easier said than done. Way easier

Sonya Looney 27:19
said than done. Yeah. So how are you doing right now? You know, moving forward?

Betsi Flint 27:26
Yeah. I mean, for me, it’s like, this is what I know, this is what I do. And just because that door has shut doesn’t mean like, Everything’s over. This is still my career. And I love playing beach volleyball, I still want to inspire my daughter, I want to aspire inspire other young athletes. So after tournaments, when the little girls are asking for autographs, and we just lost, it’s really tough, but I have to suck it up and remind myself like, they don’t care that I want her loss, like this is really cool for them to see, like, female athletes compete at a high level. So trying to stick with that. And I’m sure I’ll have some ups and downs with it. But yeah, that’s what I’ve been focusing on.

Sonya Looney 28:10
That’s so interesting. Because if you think about like, the personal loss piece, like that’s so hard, but there’s almost as like, unconditional excitement from the fans that they like, they don’t care about the win or the loss. They’re just excited to see you and to meet you, which is kind of cool.

Betsi Flint 28:25
Yeah, that is really awesome.

Sonya Looney 28:29
So it sounds like you are very competitive as a person like and you love competing. What is it about competition that you love?

Betsi Flint 28:38
Brake question. I mean, I love when you kind of get in that, like automatic flow state like that’s, I mean, it’s not always achievable. But you you have those moments where just things flow and things are going well and that’s awesome. And obviously I love winning I love I don’t always love winning ugly, but it’s a skill to not play well and still want to match. That’s very satisfying. In our sport, there’s just so many challenges I with the wind, the sun, the elements, sometimes it’s raining, it’s bold, just figuring out how to win when the other teams pushing you like I’m playing the best teams in the world and we’re gonna have adversity they’re gonna pick on someone they’re gonna be picking on me and I’ve got to find a way to put the ball in the sand so there’s always there’s always a new challenges and new adversity there’s something to problem solve and figure out every single match and that’s pretty fun when you can dial that in.

Sonya Looney 29:41
Yeah, so it sounds like you like the the flow state you like the challenges and you like having to rise up to those challenges. Yes, definitely. So is there trash talking? Because you mentioned like picking on you like I’m not very familiar with volleyball so yeah,

Betsi Flint 29:54
I feel like there’s a little less trash shocking in the women’s side then maybe the more the men’s but you and kind of choose who you’re going to serve and strategically plan your defense based on like, what their favorite things are, like their favorite shots or favorite hits. So you can kind of pick on one person in a sense. Yeah, I’d say there’s less trash shocking than the men’s side. But yeah.

Sonya Looney 30:20
How do you deal with some of those adversities? When they come up? Like, what are the skills that you employ? When things aren’t things get hard?

Betsi Flint 30:30
Yeah, this, it’s kind of nice to think about, I’ve been in offseason mode. And now we’re gearing up to preseason. So it’s fun to think about. We always come up with an adversity plan with our partner, for a year, at least, I have in my partnerships, to talk about, like what we want from our partner in those moments, because some people want the rah rah, I don’t want the rah rah, that would just piss me off. So like finding like what works for me and what I can expect from my partner, it does vary. It’s different. I’m very internal. So I, I need to be focused on like, the next thing like not thinking too much about the past, but like having a focus. For me, it was sometimes feeling my toes in the sand just to get me grounded and to like, be present is really helpful. And just dialing in on different focuses, like reading the server’s hand, different cues. So something that’s forward focus. It’s helpful for me not to dwell too much on the past.

Sonya Looney 31:37
Also, I think easier said than done. How do you do that? Like, if if you’d like, I mean, I’ve heard you’ve had you have this lethal serve, but if you’ve been serving and like now you’re you’re screwing up all your serves, or you’re just kind of like, constantly screwing up? How do you get past that?

Betsi Flint 31:53
Yeah, I’ve definitely developed some like, phrases that helped me, especially serving it can be mental, like, I mean, I can serve the ball in but I’ve had matches where I serve a lot of balls out. And it’s frustrating, because I’m not trying to do it. But I’m, yeah, you’re just going through this. So different phrases, like, feel it or guide the ball or just finding little things. And sometimes every match is different. Like, I’ll use my old phrase, and it doesn’t work. So I’ve got to come up with something different. But that’s very frustrating. And then, like, as far as like passing, attacking, I’ve used this think box play box, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that, I think Anika came up with it. Where when I’m in my like, think box, maybe I’m stepping back, and thinking about what’s happening or what’s about to happen. And then when I step into my play box, I’m committing to one thing. And I’m, I’m in there, like I don’t want to be in my play box too long, where my partner is talking to me. And other thoughts come in, I want to be focused on that one thing. And that’s like serving the ball or reading the server’s hand. So that’s been really helpful to just dial that in. And takes practice, even though I’m familiar with it, I still have to remind myself to do it. And I still have to practice it in practice and matches. It’s hard to be dialed in mentally, or like 45 minutes an hour. So it’s nice to have that like think box play box mentality where I can kind of do some extra thinking and then be dialed in mentally for a short time.

Sonya Looney 33:29
Yeah, and it sounds like having those impactful. Like, I guess the word is mantras, but sayings for yourself that keeps you focused on the task at hand?

Betsi Flint 33:38
Yeah.

Sonya Looney 33:41
What about the relationship with your partner? I know that a lot of the podcasts you’ve been on, people ask a lot about the partnership aspect. So I’m guessing that that’s a pretty massive piece of your success on these teams. How do you select a partner? And how do you build relationship?

Betsi Flint 33:57
Yeah, that’s a big factor for sure. You spend so much time with your partner maybe more often off the sand and on the sand with how much traveling we do. So that’s a big piece. I think we team meetings at the beginning of the year talking about the adversity plan and different values that we share that we can lean in on when things are hard. Then learning how to communicate with each other. I like a certain way my partner like somebody different and we usually deliver the way we want. So finding like how to communicate in those tough times. Yeah, and then I think something we didn’t do well was meeting with a sports psychologist because we wanted to find the right one that fit for us and I want to do that more moving forward. Just it’s easier to have tough conversations and get to just really like a good outcome out of it. You know, I really focused conversation. So I think that would be really helpful with all partnerships is all that communication part.

Sonya Looney 34:58
Do you think that having volleyball partners helps your relationship with like your, your husband or your partner.

Betsi Flint 35:07
Yeah, for sure. I think my husband and I could probably see a sports psychologist or psychologist, do. I? Yeah, for sure. I think my partner was reading a relationship book with her boyfriend, like, this feels more applicable to me and you than it does, me and him. So yeah, it definitely can help.

Sonya Looney 35:30
How have you changed over the years as an athlete and as a person as you’ve navigated this whole journey?

Betsi Flint 35:38
So much, I think looking back year one, I was so naive and such, I don’t know, self focused, as we talked about before, and I’m I’m competitive and definitely have, like, this edge on the sand that maybe you don’t see off the court. But I’ve learned to like, off the court, like be more supportive of my competitors of other people. Just because the sport isn’t everything. And everyone, like we talked about before is going through something. And volleyball is just helping us like, yeah, live in a different world. And it’s kind of nice to escape and just play beach volleyball sometimes. But I feel like I’ve definitely support women more than I have in the past. I’ve learned to appreciate my body. I It’s hard when we’re wearing swimsuits all the time. And now that I’m a mom, I care a little bit less about what I look like. And I think it’s pretty cool what our bodies have done to create this life. And yeah, it’s pretty cool. Yeah, I’ve changed a lot. I’m trying to think of all the little things. Yeah, those two come to mind.

Sonya Looney 36:56
Yeah, I think the journey that we go through pursuing something like athletics, or whatever, like we change in that process, hopefully, for the better, and it’s always so meaningful and impactful to look back and say, wow, like, I’ve actually changed a lot over the years through some of these things that I’ve endured or done. Your comment about being more supportive of women off the court? Like, how have you done that? So it can be really hard, especially in an environment where there are not a lot of resources? Like, it sounds like volleyball might be one of those environments, like, how do you do that?

Betsi Flint 37:30
Yeah. I think before I just would just, I want to talk to other people, I was just in my own world, you know, just focus on myself. And now I feel like I’ve gotten to know some other people. I still think there’s a little bit of an edge that I like to have. I don’t want to be best friends with my competition, but I think being friendly and kind and helpful when they ask questions, especially now that, like an older athlete, I mean, I’m 31 but I think there’s so many young people that now I’m one of the older ones that people look up to me and yeah, I I can be more of like a mentor to some of those young athletes. Yeah, I forgot what the question even was. But yeah, that’s that’s how I feel like I’ve been supporting some of these other athletes.

Sonya Looney 38:21
Yeah, and I also think the body image comment you made was really interesting. Like, number one, when I looked at your Instagram, and I saw like, you have a swim, like Swim, swim. What’s left on Fridays? Is that this one? Yeah, yes. Yeah, I just had this moment of, she has to compete in a swimsuit like that, just when I saw that, and that was like, Holy crap, that must be kind of stressful. As as somebody like cyclists, some it depends on what discipline you’re in. But I mean, we’re we were like lycra, but we’re not in a at all, like in a swimsuit. So what yeah, what’s that like? And how has motherhood changed your relationship with body image?

Betsi Flint 38:56
Yeah, they have recently changed roles. It’s always been on the AVP. You can wear what you want. So I don’t have to wear a swimsuit. I can wear shorts, t shirt, whatever I want. So that’s awesome. Internationally, they recently changed a rule like two years ago, that we can wear leggings whenever we want or tank top or shirt before it had to be a certain temperature that you had to wear, wear those things so or get a medical note. So it’s pretty cool that our sports evolved and now we have more options, more autonomy. Yeah, I think it’s hard. There’s photographers all airports probably too close for comfort are getting all the shots. We don’t even know what they’re getting. I think our bodies the way we move. There’s always going to be some sort of fat or something expose and I’m way more okay with that now than I ever have been. Just after seeing like what my body’s gone through and hormonally every month. Like my body is doing different things I can’t control when these tournaments are I’m in what my body is doing necessarily, like holding on to water, you know, all those little things. And I’m more focused on how can I feel my body for performance and not for what it looks like? Like I’d rather be playing well and winning then and look good. And just, you know, being average.

Sonya Looney 40:20
Yeah, I think that this message is so important, especially for younger athletes who think that if I have to look a certain way, in order for people to take me seriously, or in order for me to be good, and that can lead to a lot of unhealthy behaviors, and even just like the way that you think of yourself.

Betsi Flint 40:41
Yeah, it’s, it’s challenging, I still think there’s gonna be those challenges. It’s part of growing up, you don’t really realize like, how amazing the female body is, until you’re older and you’re pregnant or understand, like everything. But yeah, I’d want to encourage those athletes to feel like just a fuel in their bodies for performance. And, again, easier said than done to be not thinking about what you look like. But if you’re more comfortable playing in a T shirt, like do it like, it doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing, just go out there and

Sonya Looney 41:19
buy your best. So I’d love to hear what training looks like for for you.

Betsi Flint 41:26
Yeah, typically, while we’re in season, I were on the sand for about two, two and a half hours. And then I go straight to the gym for an hour and a half to two hours to get my lifting, and conditioning. And then it gives me time to do some recovery, whether it’s NormaTec meeting with our athletic trainer, or massage therapist, and then I go home and IBM, I become a mom. And so usually I get that all done before one or two, and head home and go to a park with my daughter. We’re always out and about because we have a small apartment. So just spending time with her. But it’s been cool just to spend like slow down this past couple months during the offseason and spend time with her and be more present. She teaches me so much, especially when I feel like I’m like overwhelmed or stressed or I’m in a rush. She looks at me and she’ll grab my face. And she’ll be like, mom be happy. And that’s just a good reminder of like, they see all the emotions that we’re going through. And it’s easy for us to just slow down. And that’s just a great reminder to Yeah, slow down and be present with her. And those other things really don’t matter. I’m late, it doesn’t matter, even though I love being on time. And things I’ve learned. Uh

Sonya Looney 42:53
huh. Yeah. Yeah, the first time that your kid looks at you, and I was like, be happy. Yeah, you’re kind of like, I didn’t realize that you even noticed. Yeah, so how often do you get to bring your husband and your daughter to your matches.

Betsi Flint 43:11
They came to a couple events this year. I love it. I love having them around. It’s really hard on my husband, unless gets out there. Just because we’re on the beach for so many hours a day. And you know, with a toddler that can be challenging, and it’s if it’s hot, and sunny and all that. So I like them to be more, but they’ve only come to a few this year, which is awesome to have her there especially after, like successes and wins. After the AVP Manhattan Beach open, which is one of the biggest tournaments of the year, you get your name on the pier. We won the tournament in a tropical storm. And then I get my daughter and I’ve you know, I’m like she’s gonna be so happy. And she’s just bawling. She’s crying. This picture. I’m like, this is one of my happiest moments in here. And I just think that’s motherhood right there. They don’t really care about the wins and the losses. She’s kind of overstimulated overwhelmed with everything going on the loud noises so yeah, it’s it’s fun when when in there, but it’s, I mean, it’s my job. So they can’t come to everything, unfortunately. Yeah. And

Sonya Looney 44:21
it’s expensive to bring your kids to everything. Yeah. In some ways, it’s kind of nice that your kids don’t care about if you win or lose.

Betsi Flint 44:32
For sure. For sure, after some of those matches, where we should have won, and I go find her. She just wants me to go to the ocean and play. She doesn’t care that everyone was just cheering me on. And yeah, she just doesn’t care. And that’s pretty cool. It’s just a good reminder that there’s more to volleyball there’s more to life than Mm

Sonya Looney 44:55
hmm. Yeah. And I mean, when you dedicate your life to a sport, it’s hard to remember that sometimes it’s Especially whenever you’ve taken a loss, for sure, learning how to lose gracefully is a skill. How do you like how have you worked on that one?

Betsi Flint 45:12
I’m not a good loser, I have gotten better, just with the experience. I think my family has learned after losses not to come talk to me. And not to talk about volleyball, because I feel like the only person I can really talk to about it is my husband or my coach, my husband played division one basketball. So he understands the competitiveness and all that all the feelings. Yeah, I don’t know, maybe you have advice on how to work on it, because I’m still getting better. But I’ve definitely improved from I’m in college and my first years professionally to now, definitely because of motherhood. But yeah, I think it’s just a skill that needs to be worked on.

Sonya Looney 45:58
And it’s interesting because like, in my sport, I’m not, it’s not like 212, right, like, I’m in a field, I might be racing by myself, or I might have just one teammate racing. So it’s not that I just lost, I guess, like, if you come second, you lost one person, but there’s a bunch of other competitors around you at all times in the race. So it’s a little bit less of like this person I lost to this person or this team. And I think insight for me in cycling, it’s, it’s more like, I internalize it, like, Oh, it’s my fault. Because this, this and this happen. And for me, it’s just like, the self compassion piece of like, it’s okay, and I did my best, and I’m not going to win all of them. And if you won, every single one of them like, this actually wouldn’t be very interesting anymore.

Betsi Flint 46:43
That’s very valid, I have learned that it’s great to like, reflect and debrief and then picking a time where I’m over it. And then I’m focused on match. So a lot of matches are double elimination. So if you lose, you still have an opportunity to win the tournament. That’s important to like, All right, we talked to my partner, like when we walk in this room in our hotel room, like, let’s be done with it, we’re done talking about it. So if you want to say anything else, let’s do it. Now. That’s been really helpful, just to kind of pick that moment where the match is over. And now we’re focused on the next one.

Sonya Looney 47:21
Wow, it’s so interesting to learn all these different things about volleyball and just about the competitive piece of it. Have you thought about competition, like, I’ve actually put a lot of thought into competition, because you can think about competition as a zero sum game. And it’s like, I have to be on I have to, like rise to the top and be on top of be the best and everybody else like I you know, they’re my nemesis, nemeses. I guess like I’m not articulating this well, but like, what I’ve had to do for myself is say, Yes, I’m competing against all these people. Yes, I want to beat them. But they also are helping me be my best instead of looking at all of them of like, I have to crush everybody. It’s like, everybody here is is amazing. And I’m grateful to them. Because if they weren’t here, then I wouldn’t be pushed to my highest level. Like, have you thought about competition in that way before?

Betsi Flint 48:09
Yeah, that’s a that’s a great way to think about it. I mean, I do love being an underdog. I love when there are people around me that are better. It’s definitely more challenging when we’re the higher seed or we’re supposed to be winning. I think that’s where it can be really challenging these year to be on the other side. Yeah, no, I for sure. have thought about it. That way. I still feel like I look at my competitors when I’m on the court, and they’re, they’re my enemy. But then as soon as we’re off the court, it’s, it’s okay to let it go. Yeah.

Sonya Looney 48:50
Yeah, something that I found really interesting. I’m actually interviewing somebody next week about this. But she and I had a pre call just for fun. And she’s an expert in in flow and competition, specifically. And she was saying that people who are too focused on competition, have a more difficult time getting into flow state. So I actually wanted to ask you, whenever you have encountered with flow states, in your events, were you less focused on the competition and more focused on like, the skills that you were trying to exercise or do?

Betsi Flint 49:23
Yeah, that’s interesting. For sure. When I felt like in flow, it’s, it’s almost like the blackout. It’s so hard to recall. Like, just but yeah, when I’m not really thinking about my competitors, like, a lot of times our competitors or ex partners or their people, yeah, you’ve had some sort of neighbor relationship with so it can get in the way of that flow state and when you’re focused on like doing the things I need to do and finding those mantras and the little things. I’m way more fluid I’m thinking more externally than I am internally.

Sonya Looney 50:04
So interesting. Yeah. Well, that’s it. We’re just about out of time here. Is there anything else that you want to talk about before we sign off?

Betsi Flint 50:14
No, I’m just grateful to be here. And if you want to follow my journey, you can find me on Instagram and most active there at Betsy Flint, BETSIFliNT, and I appreciate what you’re doing. And I’ve loved loved your podcast episodes. So thanks for having me. Yeah.

Sonya Looney 50:31
Thanks so much for coming on. And I’m excited to watch your season unfold and watch you do it as a mom have an almost three year old it’s awesome.

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