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Home - The Mental Game of Basketball

  The Mental Game of Basketball

November 26, 2014 - by Anthony Lanzillo

For Players and Coaches Who Want to Play a Smarter Game

“The fact is, you can’t train your body – or excel at anything – before you train your mind. You can’t commit to excellence until your mind is ready to take you there. Teach the mind to train the body. Physical dominance can make you great. Mental dominance is what ultimately makes you unstoppable."             

Tim S. Grover – Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable

In his work as a sports trainer with various NBA athletes, including Michael Jordan and Dwayne Wade, Grover truly understands the mental side of sports and the significant impact it has had on the performance of professional basketball players. Whether you are coaching a high school basketball team in New Jersey or playing professional basketball in Europe, mental skills training and mental conditioning are essential to the development and success of a basketball player. One of the basic mental skills tools that should be taught at every practice is the ability to visualize how you want to play. Here is the tool – “Firing On All Cylinders”.

The impact of your performance during the game will be defined by the intensity of your mental imagery before the game. Given the physical and mental demands of the game, it is imperative that you condition and prepare your mind to perform on the court. It’s using all your senses in order to develop full impact imagery or what is called “firing on all cylinders”.

Close your eyes and take yourself through one situation or play during the game. In your mind, slowly take yourself through every move and step that you are making from the beginning to the end. Use all your senses, and self-talk, in developing this picture of your performance on the court. See how you are positioned. Feel the uniform you are wearing and the basketball in your hands. Feel the court below your feet and the sweat on the back of your neck. See yourself making the first and second moves on the court. Feel the sense of accomplishment as you successfully execute your role. Listen to yourself as you talk to yourself through the series of moves.
See it. Feel it. Hear it. Taste it. Smell it. Say it. Replay it.

“He loved the day of a game, particularly an important game. It was a time which belonged completely to him, a time pure in its purpose…he thought about the tempo he wanted to set and how he could move…actually see the game and feel the moment of it. Sometimes he did it with such accuracy that a few hours later when he was on the court and the same players made the same moves, it was easy for him because he had already seen it all, had made that move or blocked that shot. He was amazed in those moments at how clearly he could see the game, see the spin on the ball and the angles from which different players were coming. Moment by moment in that time he became more confident until when he arrived at the locker room he was absolutely ready…” David Halberstam – “The Breaks Of The Game”

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