One of the most underrated and under-appreciated aspects of basketball is mental toughness. Take the one and only Michael Jordan for example, when we think of MJ what most likely comes to mind is his amazing high flying dunks and incredible athleticism. But the truth is that there have been a number of other NBA players who in their prime were just as or more athletic than MJ. So, why does Jordan stand out from them? Without a doubt it was his ability to capture the moment and come through in the clutch. The man just didn’t seem to make a mistake when the game was on the line.
Where did this mental toughness come from? Certainly for MJ some of it came from his experiences of life and personality.
But can any aspiring basketball player learn these traits so that they too can handle the ups and downs of the game? Can they learn to embraced the moment when they have the ball in their hands with clock ticking down to zero? The simple answer is yes, it can be taught. Do these five things now to become a more mentally tough basketball player.
Yeah, we said it. We believe every basketball player should be meditating regularly. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation decreases the activity in the area of the brain related to stress response and anxiety.
If you meditate for just 10 minutes a day you will notice that decisions on the court will come easier and you will have less anxiety when put in pressure situations.
If you want more guidance on how to meditate we recommend you pickup “The Mindful Athlete” by George Mumford. Don’t know Mr. Mumford? George was the mindfulness meditation coach for Michael Jordan.
2. Get More Sleep
Most Americans do not get enough sleep, and it has a greater impact on our basketball performance than we realize. In fact, a study showed that when players were made to get more sleep their free throw and 3 point percentage improved by a whole 9%!
3. Be Process Oriented
We’ve talked about the benefits of process oriented thinking and shooting previously. But process oriented thinking can help you to recover from setbacks when things don’t go your way.
The goal is to focus on the process of our decisions and not the results. So, if you took a good shot to win the game but missed it, process oriented thinkers would not consider this a failure because they had made the correct decision in taking the shot.
Smiling has been shown to increase health and happiness. Don’t take life too seriously and never be afraid to laugh at yourself, even on the basketball court.
5. Have Good Posture
Confidence is a funny thing. For some it comes naturally, while for others it seems entirely elusive. But you can give a boost to your confidence by simply sitting up straighter and keeping your head held high. Research from The Ohio State University showed that those who sat with good posture also had more confident thoughts.