#31 Learn To Silence Your Ego with Gabi KOEVA

#31 Learn To Silence Your Ego with Gabi KOEVA

Athlete Case Study: Bulgarian Women’s National Volleyball Team, Middle Blocker for Beşiktaş Women's Volleyball (Istanbul Turkey).  Elite Sports Students Mentor  

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February 24, 2015

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On today’s episode we will talk about how Gabi got to where she is today. We will discuss how she decided to play volleyball instead of basketball, as both of her parents are former basketball players, but at her age, volleyball was the only option. She explains some of her struggles and decisions she has had to make over the years, as well as some of the mentors she’s had to help her. She also shares how she handled being a bench player while playing for the Bulgarian Women’s National Team and the importance of silencing your ego and continuing to work hard no matter what situation you may face.


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“Remember that talent is only 1% of an athlete’s life, and the other 99% is hard work, hard work, and more hard work.” -Gabi’s Father


Dragan Nesic, the first coach to send Gabi an invitation for the Senior National Team, whom she learned the most from volleyball wise; Svetlana Ilic, Gabi learned a lot from her while playing in Switzerland, was one of the only coaches she had to emphasize importance of mental preparation.

Key Discussion Points:

  • When was a time you struggled in your sport or life in general?

  • How did you mentally handle being one of the bench players?

  • When was a time during a match that you made a mistake, and what did you do to move on from it?

  • When was your lightbulb moment?

  • When was one of your proudest moments?

  • What lead you to your studies that you’ve recently completed?

  • What is your current plan to be successful in your life and sport?

Key Lessons:

  • Accept failure!

“We all fail on a daily basis. I think its important that we learn from our failures.” GK @ 10:22

  • We need to learn to silence our egos and look objectively at the situation we are in

“After all, its the National Team and all the best players from your country are playing there..you have to give them respect..good players, they are not just random people on the court.” GK @ 13:16

  • Focus on your skills, getting better, and proving yourself at every practice

  • Competition within the team is what helps evolve players

  • Egos can be good and bad in some ways

  • Find a way to compete and add value to your teammates, make them better

  • Do your best to move on quickly from the mistakes you make while competing

“I talked to myself.. ‘the set is gone, it was just one point, you made a mistake, it was not your fault, focus on the next set, start over, do your thing, try to keep in mind the goals you have, focus on the small things, FORGET about it.” GK @ 17:28

  • The whole team loses/wins a game, not just one individual

  • If you dwell on the last mistake, you are most likely to keep making more

  • Sometimes you have to change your scenery or location to be closer to your success

  • The most successful people are those who challenge themselves, looking outside the box

  • Have your OWN vision for what you want in the future and create small goals to achieve that vision

Listen ON-THE-GO (00:55:44) NOW -or- mobile via iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn Apps!


What is the best advice you have ever received?
Always see the positive in every situation; things are how they are, its in our power to understand them how we want.

What is the first thing you do when arriving to a new team or arena?
Team: I look forward to the first couple of practices so I can see how the coach is working with the team, so I can understand their perspective.
Arena: I check out the lights, they can be disturbing sometimes

What personal habit do you believe has contributed most to your success?
When I start something, I really want to finish it.

Sleep & Morning ritual:
I sleep between 8-10 hours; I have breakfast, coffee/tea, I am up a few hours before practice, on the court half an hour before doing warm up/ mobility exercises.

What is one way you’d like to improve yourself?
Always try to learn something new, reading books

How do you cross-train to stay fit when you aren’t playing your sport?
I go swimming a few times a week

What is one book you would give away as a gift and why?
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday; I would give this book to anyone who is struggling with something in life, sports, business, etc.

If you had a do-over, knowing everything you know now with all of the new resources (Beyond Athletic Podcasts, ESS Mentors, etc.) ,what would you have done differently and why?
I think things would have happened quicker for me, after listening to other’s experiences on a podcast, I would have learned a lot quicker.


Charity/Organizations They Add Value to:
Elite Sports Students; Mentor
Possibly a summer camp, 2015,  in Braham, Minnesota, run by Noah Dahlman

Past/Current Teams:
Past: VC CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria; Voléro Zürich,Switzerland; Minerva Volley Pavia, Italy
Current: Beşiktaş Women's Volleyball; Bulgaria Women's National Volleyball Team

Definition of Being An Athlete?

"Very important in our society; sports are famous, entertainment; people feel a direct impact from sports. If you have a role model, you are interested in all aspects of their professional and personal life. We as athletes should be giving a good example to the young kids. We are influential and
should take it seriously" -Gabi Koeva


Books Mentioned:
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
Relentless: The Ultimate Mind & Body Challenge by Tim Grover


Also Mentioned:

Vlado Jaksic; Basketball Peace Ambassadors; Video

Braham, Minnesota
Noah Dahlman
VC CSKA Sofia,
Voléro Zürich

Minerva Volley Pavia
Beşiktaş Women's Volleyball
Bulgaria Women's National Volleyball Team
Elite Sports Students; Mentor
Beyond Athletic Podcasts
European Volleyball League
Pleven, Bulgaria
National Sports Academy "Vasil Levski"





-Ryan (Owner @ EliteVolley.com)
Elite Volley Agency
SRB Mobile: +381628905135 | USA Mobile: +13233623829
Sports Podcast: www.BeyondAthletic.com/listen
Agency: www.EliteVolley.com 

3 Things I Learned In Italy, Switzerland & Turkey by Gabi KOEVA [blog]

3 Things I Learned In Italy, Switzerland & Turkey
by Gabi KOEVA

As I often like to remind myself - there are no good or bad experiences in life. They are all experiences from which we learn. Same rule apples for our sport lives.
— Gabriela "Gabi" KOEVA (CEV Cup Silver Medalist)

1. Switzerland (CH)

What did I know about CH before going there? Pretty much what everybody knows - it's the land of swiss chocolate, swiss watches and swiss banks! What I didn't realize is that Switzerland was the land of rules...a lot of rules I mean. In fact when I first went before the season to sign my contract and meet the president, he asked me one simple question: 

"How are you with following rules?". 
"I guess I'm good, I can follow rules..." - I said.
"Then you'll have no problem whatsoever in Switzerland!"

How to follow the rules is one of the most important things I've learned there. Being organized and disciplined, scheduling your time wisely and never, absolutely N-E-V-E-R permit yourself to be late for an appointment! Swiss tend to take it personally! They are very sensitive when considering time...and wasting it.

2. La Bella Italia... (ITA)
(lit. 'The beautiful Italy')

As Italians lie to refer to their lovely country is no doubt (or at least it was few years ago) the country of some of the strongest European club teams. Teams that merged experienced with young athletes on the court, playing side by side, leaded by some of the best coaches in the volleyball world. 

It was a great experience to get to be a part of Serie A1! The only thing that went bad that season was the fact that our team Riso Scotti Pavia struggled a lot and we finished the regular season second last with just two victories behind our backs. 

Even though season was difficult for the team I played really strong. I scored over 70-80% in attack almost every game and even finished a couple of matches with 100%. Every once in a while I meet some of the coaches from IT that year and they'd tell me "Wow it was an incredible season for you in Italy..."

So the most important thing I'd learned from my Italian experience? It was that even though "team comes before individual," it's still important to be able to focus on your own performance. Even when the team is doing bad, to be able to give your best, no matter the outcome! There will be always someone who notices that and it will probably open many doors for you in the future. 

3. Türkiye (TR)

Turkey...I fell in love with this (I'm here now!) country and most of all with the crazy, sleepless, colorful Istanbul! But let's talk about volleyball. 

The last few years the Turkish championship has been one of the strongest in the world alongside of Russia's and Brazil's. Turkish teams play many finals and win gold medals in (almost) every CEV and FIVB tournament during the past 4-5 years. So it's never easy to go out on the court, facing the best players in the world, not feeling like an underdog. 

But being the underdog has it's advantages and that's what I've learned here in Turkey. As long as you give your best on the court and fight for every ball, even when it seems impossible, no team can underestimate you for it only matters what's the result after the game. I am playing for the team of Besiktas JK and we have never been one of the top teams in the league but that didn't stop us from winning against the big teams of Galatasaray and Eczacibasi for example. 

Let me help you picture the situation of being an underdog with one other example where we made IT despite the odds and expectations of everyone else:

So it's season 2013-2014, the team of Besiktas didn't have the chance to play any European cup tournament, because previous season finished in 7th place after the regular season. The only chance we had was to compete and try to win the Balkan Cup and get a wild card for the CEV Challenge Cup. And we did it, we won! So there we were, last team to make it to Challenge Cup and guess what? We played final that year! It was a tough journey, we advanced 5 times by winning a golden set and we truly surprised everyone by making it to the final round.

Unfortunately, we lost that one against a Russian team, but the lesson we all learned was that no matter the expectations, no matter who's on the other side of the net - the court is still 18 m2  for both teams, the ball is round and at the end, if you never give up and your heart is big enough, you can beat the odds and prove everyone wrong!


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