Basketball Mental Skills Article

Healthy Expectations or Not

Do not permit what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” — John Wooden

In sports psychology for basketball, expectations can be divided into two types – Realistic and Unrealistic.

Realistic Expectations can be defined as things that an athlete can achieve within their ability while pursuing their goals.

These expectations are healthy and will serve as the driving force to reach optimal performance.

Going into a game with realistic expectations adds motivation, direction, and purpose for the athletes.

Unrealistic Expectations can be defined in short as detrimental.

Going into a game with unrealistic expectations adds pressure, anxiety, and distraction for the athletes.

This way of thinking leads to thoughts of self-doubt and low confidence in one’s ability. If left unchecked, the athlete will inevitably enter a downward spiral.

The key that unlocks the athlete’s mental game in basketball is when they become aware of how their beliefs, attitudes, and expectations hinder their performance in competition.

In other words, they must realize that unrealistic expectations do not serve them well, and it is indeed holding them back from greatness.

Once they realize that unrealistic expectations are holding them back, it results in an enormous burden being lifted off them.

It frees up their mental space and allows them to focus on things that will stretch them (realistic expectations) and not stress them (unrealistic expectations).

The game of basketball demands the athletes’ full attention if they want to achieve optimal performance. Anything less will lead to mediocrity.

Below are some questions that help identify strict expectations:

Do your goals for a competition focus on outcomes or results only?
Do you constantly judge the level of your performance based on your standards?
Do you become upset when you do not perform up to your set of standards?
Do you lose confidence when you do not play to your standards?
Do you maintain expectations about the quality of your performance at the start of the competition, such as expecting to make zero mistakes?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be causing unnecessary pressure or worry during the game, resulting in poor performance.

This will take the athlete’s focus away from the things that are within their control

After becoming aware of the unrealistic expectations holding the athletes back, changing the mindset to develop realistic expectations usually takes time and effort.

The path to achieving optimal performance in basketball is not easy.

Those who prevail reap the rewards, and the rewards are available to all who dare to change their mindset.



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