As a coach, I've seen numerous athletes lose a game or have a bad game and not understand why. Either they blame the coach, teammates or referee.
However, the root of the problem often lines outside of the specific game itself - athletes need to understand how work ethic can positively or negativity affect game performance.
In the beginning, playing competitive basketball can be challenging for some athletes. Playing the game and not performing well or winning can send athletes into a different state of mind. For some, this leads to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and even the desire to quit. In addition, trying out for a team and not making it is definitely a feeling no one wants to encounter. Even though these are stressful moments players want to avoid, it is important to learn from every situation - even the negative ones - to help grow into a better athlete.
Have you ever felt unprepared? Sit and reflect on the times when you had to speak to a group of people without knowing what to say, or those times you had to take a test without thoroughly studying. These are all examples of moments when you were not prepared.
If you don’t relate to these non-basketball examples, let’s switch gears back to the game. Think about times when you had a bad game - was it because the defense forced you to your weak side? Was it because you didn't take the mid-range jumpers which were mainly wide open the entire game? Was it because your man consecutively back-doored you?
There could be other factors leading to a bad game, but the key takeaway is that those bad games exposed areas where work is needed. These examples of stressful situations where athletes were unprepared will arouse a sense of fear every time the athlete steps into the game if not corrected.
Definition of Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is a threat.
Definition of Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
In basketball, this translates into working on making 250 mid-range jumpers each day, dribble sprinting the court a hundred times per day towards your weak side, working on seeing man and ball more in practice to prevent back-door cuts, etc.
How can athletes control stress levels and alleviate fear while using their emotions in a positive manner? One of the key ingredients is being prepared.
Plain and simple: having a good work ethic and solid preparation will help eliminate fear and stress. After each practice, training session or film analysis, players have the opportunity to place themselves in a proper state of mind to positivity affect their performance in the future.
Closing thoughts: The next time you have a bad game, view that as an opportunity to become better. Identify the problem or point of struggle, and work to improve it. Focus on being prepared for those situations by increasing your work ethic.
Interested in training with Coach Paris?
Register for the upcoming All-Around Basketball Skills Clinic in Oak Brook on April 15!