Developing mentally tough players

mental toughnessMichael Jordan is widely considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time. What gave him the edge over everyone else? Was it work ethic? Surely others have worked just as hard. Was it a psychological edge? Was being cut from his freshman team the thing that began a winning mindset? Whatever it was, I believe it was cultivated over many years.

It was said that Coach John Wooden rarely discussed wins and losses in his pregame speech. Instead he focused on making sure his players were willing to give 100 percent and leave everything on the court. That is the mindset that sets one apart from everyone else. It is the idea that every second, every moment, every challenge deserves 100% effort. Some can do that for a moment, a day or two or even a month, but few can live that philosophy day in and day out, through life’s ups and downs.

Mindsets matter

Rarely do people discuss psychology, but basketball is as much mental as it is physical. Simply yelling at players or blaming them for losses isn’t effective. Breeding success or a mental edge starts by finding out root causes and motivations with players.

Looking at the psychology of basketball Coach Rucker, a former athlete and current NFL father of a Cleveland Browns player puts it this way, “Sometimes the players are not aware of what they can do until they are put in a situation or push beyond their limits.” To grow mentally one must see different situation and have success in those situations. This helps players become exceptional players.

Without mental toughness it will be very hard for any player, team or coach to have success. Mental toughness starts by staying positive and being patient. Reaching peak performance will not happen without mental toughness. One way to development mental toughness is by putting your body and mind in situations where you are forced to exceed your perceived limitations. How do you know how far you can push yourself if you’ve never been there? Most people need someone else to help them get there. Once an athlete accomplishes something they have never done, it builds confidence. That is the start of developing a mentally tough individual. In this process, it is very important to understand that mistakes are inevitable. Let them happen.

We want to see our kids and athletes grow mentally and/or psychologically from the game of basketball. We want it to translate onto the court but also to the game of life. This starts by using challenges and encouragement. Both have to be present to develop a winning mindset. Coaching ‘just to win’ isn’t enough. Earn his or hers trust and they’ll accomplish many of the challenges you set before them.

Results you desire

A mentally tough athlete will focus, block out distractions, manage stress, maintain a good attitude, display a ‘never die’ winning spirit, rebound quickly from mistakes, prepare better for big games and handle losses with class.




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