Is fear affecting your basketball mental toughness? While you do need strength, speed, shooting ability and jumping ability to play great basketball, you also need to manage keep your head in the game.
Poor previous performances, losing streaks, slumps, choking and consistently losing games that were winnable can all undermine your athletic performance. Notice that focusing on any or all of these keeps you from concentrating on what is happening in your game right NOW.
Learn to block out everything except this particular play. Forget the crowd, the coaches, the other team, and so on. Learn to bounce back from bad breaks, bad calls and your mistakes.
Begin to think like a champion, maintain a winning attitude and manage your stress by staying calm and loose. Keep your intensity up by keenly focusing on this particular play. Stay psyched-up, maintain your self-confidence, and avoid being intimidated.
As simple as it seems, it’s as easy as staying intensely focused on the task at hand. Keep in mind, do not to focus on the play you just made, that play is in the past; but do focus on the play you are making right NOW.
1. Realize that fear is in your mind, it is not reality. When you feel afraid, immediately shift your thoughts to the positive side. For example, think of how skilled you are, how well you’ve trained for this game, and how many times you’ve completed these very same plays perfectly in practice. Avoid thinking negative thoughts about ‘what if’ this or that happens’
2. Acknowledge that fear is natural. There’s tons of pressure linked with any basketball performance, and it’s perfectly natural to be afraid. Channel that pregame fear and adrenaline burst to winning energy on the court. In practice, try to duplicate the fear situation, so you’ll know what to expect in the game, and so you can develop ways to handle it under the pressure of a real game.
3. Talk to yourself differently about fear. Refer to it as “intense high energy”, a “challenge” or “excitement.” When you can use a positive alternative to a negative word, you are well on your way to overcoming your fears on the court.
4. If you begin to experience fear gripping your body, consciously breathe deeply and rhythmically. Relax those areas where you know you carry excess tension.
5. Be aware of exactly what is causing your fear. Are you really afraid of missing a pass or a free throw, or are you more afraid that an old injury will come into play? Overcome this negative ‘what if’ self talk by keeping your focus on the moment at hand, just take the game one step at a time.
6. When you start to experience fear, have a ‘thought shifting phrase’ handy. It can be anything that is short that will remind you to immediately put a different positive picture in your mind. For example, you could say to yourself, “I’ve trained hard, I’m unstoppable, I can shoot 100 free throws without missing”.
This is more than just positive thinking, this is switching your mind off the negative and on to self-talk that will really change your game.