The Importance of Your Mental Toughness on the Basketball Court
The Importance of Your Mental Toughness on the Basketball Court
The ability for someone to control their thoughts and actions is an ability that is extremely underrated. The more control a person has over these things, the more valuable they become on and off the court. In this blog, we will be going over a few things that can help you become metnally stronger, and we will also discuss why they are important.
If you are able to get just a little bit better in any of these categories, you will without a doubt begin to see changes in your life and in your basketball game. Your mind is an extremely underrated tool, and mental health is undervalued by many!
"Everything negative — pressure, challenges — are all an opportunity for me to rise."
— Kobe Bryant
Self Actualization/Visualization - Believing in Yourself
The mind is powerful!
This may sound funny to a lot of people, but it is a real thing! Self actualization works. If you can convince your mind that you can do something, your mind will convince your body right back.
Self actualization is important for all people, especially athletes involved in basketball. It’s good to believe that you’re capable of doing something.. whether it be hitting the next shot you take, or if you want to go long term, winning a championship.
When self actualizing in the short term it is good to visualize the outcome. It is important to visualize the ball going through the hoop, and actually picturing in your head what the perfect make looks like. Now, it may not always work, but it will work more often than not doing it. A reason why a shot is so important is because if you’re going through a cold streak, and you just missed a few shots in a row, then your mind is visualizing the ball missing. Now, picture this. You’ve missed a few, but then stop and breathe, and visualize the ball going in. Suddenly your mind is seeing the ball go through the hoop, and it´s almost as if you didn’t miss a few in a row prior to that moment.
This might sound weird, I know. I was a critic of this idea for a while, but after practicing it myself, I became a HUGE advocate of this idea. It’s good for people, and at the very least, it will help players to believe in themselves.
Being a good teammate
Anytime you’re been having a bad game, a bad practice, or even a bad day, it is always beneficial for you to begin to look outward. You could be having a bad game, but when you begin to think about your team’s overall performance rather than your own, you will begin to put less pressure on yourself, and probably begin to play better. Keep in mind though, that you shouldn’t do it for the sole purpose of “I’ll begin to play better”, you should do it because basketball is a team sport, and so is life. Be a good teammate.
Coaches ideally want this from all of their players (and for those in High School who want to be recruited, college coaches put an emphasis on this). How do you react when you are having a bad day? Do you put your head down and mope, or do you try to encourage all of the others around you and keep morale high!? When one player is having a rough go of it, but continues to look outward and stay positive, everyone around them will notice and step their own performance up. On the contrary, players who are consistently negative are like vampires, they are always sucking the energy right from the rest of the team. Don’t be an energy vampire!
Try to make a conscious effort to get better at this! Every time you’re in a difficult moment, or you’re playing badly, you need to make a conscious effort to support the other people around you. This is going to be difficult, but it´s well worth the effort. The more you make a conscious effort to look outward, the better you will get at it in the subconscious. And the better you will be at getting through the rough moments.
Don’t put too much stress on yourself!
You will hear this everywhere, at all ages and levels of basketball. Players continuously put too much pressure on themselves. Now, I am also an advocate of pressure being good for players, don’t get me wrong. “Pressure makes diamonds”, but too much pressure can diminish a player’s abilities and mentally drain them. “Pressure bursts pipes”.
When someone feels too much pressure from others, and they don’t believe that they are capable of doing it on their own, they begin to break down. They begin to make mistakes they don’t usually make, and they start to think too much internally. Ultimately this leads to forgetting basic fundamentals of the game. Putting too much pressure on yourself could result in you missing an easy defensive rotation that costs your team the game, or something else that could cost your team the game.
This also applies when a player puts too much pressure on themselves, never giving their mind a break. You will always be thinking about it, and it’ll consume you. This is bad for many reasons, but the biggest is that it is unhealthy and could lead to you overworking yourself, which in a lot of cases, will result in injury. Said injury won’t help your mental well being either.
Putting pressure on yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but putting too much pressure on yourself is something that could be detrimental.
Next play mentality
Next play mentality is something that is huge for a player. Players need to have this type of mentality because they can’t let bad plays get them down nor good games make them feel invincible. In basketball, you’ll hear a lot of NBA legends talking about having short term memory, and this goes along the same lines. Having short term memory is all about forgetting what just happened, and looking for the positives in the next play!
It’s important for players to have ‘short term memory’ for a few different reasons. When players have a next play mentality, they won’t let turnovers result in consecutive minutes of bad plays. They also won’t let a missed shot be the reason that they screw up the next couple of shots too. Forget about the bad things that just happened, and move on to the next play. This keeps players thinking about the next play, and what they can do to help their team in the next play. Always focus on the next result over the most recent result.
An example of this would be a player who turns the ball over. If the player puts their head down and walks back on defense, a coach will look poorly on the actions of this player. Why wouldn’t he? Not only did they cost their team a chance to score because of the turnover, but they were also the reason that the other team scored on the other end of the floor.
On the contrary, a teammate who is always looking forward and thinking about the next play won’t let the turnover get to their head. This player will turn the ball over, and then proceed to run back on defense with hustle and their head held high. They will do everything that they possibly can to get a stop. This teammate still made a mistake, but they made up for it (or at least attempted to). This is what coaches are looking for. Moving forward, try to have a ‘next play mentality’, both on and off the court!
We now challenge you to Bring Your A Game and take steps to improve in these specific areas:
- Conscious decision making
- Do it even when you don’t want to
- Do it when its hard
- When society tells you it’s okay to be selfish, be unselfish
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable