The best quote from the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament (besides the guy from Baylor describing what a rebound is) came from Bronson Koenig after he knocked down the game-winning corner three against Xavier.
“I like to have the ball in my hands in those situations, because I believe in my ability.”
So what can we learn from his quote and this shot?
We can learn about confidence and the illusion of pressure.
Confidence is Earned: Confidence, more than any other thing, can drive performance on the court. True confidence is hard earned and will elevate your game to another level. I’ve spent time in the gym with BK and I can promise you there’s no lack of confidence there. I can also promise you that he works and works and works on his game… he’s earned that confidence.
A lot of parents will tell me that their son or daughter just needs confidence. That may be true, but usually there is a reason they don’t have confidence…they haven’t earned it. Most, not all, of those players don’t work on their game enough to be confident. True confidence is earned through sweat and dedication. Players like BK or Kobe Bryant are confident they’ll make that last shot because they’ve made that shot thousands of times in empty gyms beforehand.
The Illusion of Pressure: First of all, pressure isn’t a real thing. It’s a feeling we may get based on our thinking about an outside event. If we are feeling “pressure,” our thinking regarding the event is creating that feeling – the actual event doesn’t make you feel a certain way. Your thinking about the event forms how you feel about it. Kobe Bryant or any other “clutch” player understands this. So, rather than letting a last second shot in the NCAA tournament or NBA finals create “pressure,” their thinking creates an opportunity.
BK approaches these situations as an opportunity – an opportunity to excel, to showcase his skill and hard work, an opportunity to be great…NOT as a pressure situation or a situation where he may fail. Bronson missed game winning or tying shots this year against Western Illinois and UW-Milwaukee.
Do you think those misses were even remotely close to entering his mind on Sunday night? Absolutely not.
Did he avoid the ball because he had failed earlier in the year in similar situations? Nope.
Did he focus on the pressure of a last second shot in the NCAA tournament? The pressure of getting his team to the Sweet 16? The pressure of playing in front thousands of people and millions watching at home? Again, no.
He was completely present in the moment, focused on the OPPORTUNITY, and 100% confident in his ability to make THIS shot.