The power of a positive mindset in sports is vital yet can be hard to achieve. We are all told from a young age to try to our best, winning isn’t the goal and good sportsmanship is emphasized. As athletes get older and advance into a more competitive realm, we encourage challenges and the meaning of trying our best changes.
When we think of a competitor in basketball, we think of someone who scraps for every loose ball, goes after rebounds, sprints the floor and plays tough defense. As with most sports, competitive athletes ae those who try harder, even when failure is the outcome. Unfortunately, this mindset may actually hurt a player. Take shooting for example: if the athlete’s outlook is winning, he may tell himself ‘I can’t miss’ or ‘I have to make it’. This attitude can lead to negative consequences, such as:
- Muscles tightening up
- Trying to aim the ball rather than shoot it
- Mentally fretting over if you will miss or make the shot
Sometimes the harder you try in sports the less success you have, which may seem counterintuitive as an athlete and the adage “practice makes perfect” is less relevant than having a good mental attitude.
We work with our players on recognizing a flaw in a shot they have taken, but then quickly move on, relaxing and focusing on the moment at hand. They can have a positive attitude because they are not worried about the past and they have no fear of the future. In basketball, you cannot just shoot over and over again with the wrong technique and not worry. So how do you put yourself in a positive mindset?
- Understand the fundamentals of the skill you are undertaking.
- Quick recognition of a mistake is critical but moving on mentally is equally as important.
- Think positively and visualize the goal at hand.
- Winning at all costs is not a model to encourage or foster.
- Coaches: work with players on positive outlook as much as a set play.
As coaches we can be enormously influential in the lives of our athletes. We want them to be well-rounded and provide a positive and character-building experience more than a winning record. Our focus is to help athletes improve their own game, help their teammates improve their game, and improving the game as whole.