How Much of Basketball is Truly Mental?

by

Every time I ask this question to players and coaches I get very similar answers.

“How many of you think basketball and life are at least 50% mental?”

Usually a majority of the hands go up affirming that, yes they believe basketball and life are at least 50% mental.

So if you believe this, how much of your time are you spending training your mind?

15%?

10%?

5%?

Usually the answer is none.

As coaches, we are constantly preaching to our players that you must:

“Push yourself outside of your comfort zone to improve”

Daniel Coyle talks about it in the Talent Code.

Players make the most improvement when they are practicing in their “sweet spot” – the area just outside of their comfort zone.  This is the area where the skill they are working on is not too difficult that it becomes frustrating and too easy that it becomes boring.

The Sweet Spot is Crucial.

So how are we training players to push outside of that comfort zone and be comfortable being uncomfortable?

Over the past 20 months yoga, meditation and mindfulness have made a huge impact on my life — so much that I’m actually finishing up a book on this. And, one thing I quickly realized is that yoga is 5% the postures and 95% about training your mind.

When you are practicing a pose (asana) must have complete focus on it, especially the balancing postures, because once your mind wanders you’ll lose balance and most likely fall.  When practicing meditation it is ridiculously uncomfortable for most people to sit, in silence and pay attention to their breath and thoughts.  But, by putting ourselves in an uncomfortable situation we are training ourselves to be comfortable being uncomfortable.  We are also training ourselves to be completely present and focused at the task at hand like shooting the ball or closing out on a defender. Think if you could truly train your mind to be completely locked in?  How powerful would that be?

So, if you truly believe basketball and life are at least part mental, how are you going to change your approach?

Dream Big. Reach High. Thrive3.

Mike

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