Basketball Mental Skills Article

Why worry – Play Ball

“The day I stopped worrying about stats is the day I started winning.” Shaquille O’Neal

The athlete’s mental game in basketball is affected by what they choose to focus on.

Basketball psychologists will tell you that confidence is adversely affected when an athlete becomes obsessed with worrying about what others might think of them and their performance.

It is perfectly normal to want this type of social approval as we are all social beings who want to be liked by our peers, family, friends, coaches, or fans.

Sometimes athletes want to be admired, accepted, respected, and liked.

Athletes (some, not all) are predisposed to a mindset that attracts a desire for this type of social approval.

Take the perfectionist mindset; this type of athlete tends to be harsh on themselves during practice and games. Although they may train harder than most, this need for perfection is usually a losing battle.

The fact that perfection is no such thing leaves them chasing something unobtainable, resulting in disappointment from holding themselves up to impossible goals.

Perfectionists also tend to crave approval and worry about what others think about their performance.

This can sometimes lead to them trying to avoid embarrassment.

This irrational fear of embarrassment or failure inevitably causes some athletes to stress and focus on things that don’t matter during competition.

Their misguided priorities will lead to focusing on things that negatively affect their performance.

It is pointless to worry too much about what others think; by trying to read another person’s mind, all the athlete is doing is making assumptions about what others might be thinking about them.

If an athlete finds themselves trying to “read people’s minds,” it is a sign that they are trying to avoid embarrassment.

Some strategies that are used to cultivate a balance in basketball are:

1. Coming up with a pre-game routine where you only focus on things that you can control
2. The flawless execution of each play.
3. Getting their technique right and not worrying about the outcome.
4. Setting realistic goals and working towards achieving them in every practice.

Go to DrDCoffey.com/FreeResources, and download the free mental game assessment, and get started on Improving your Mental Game in Basketball


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