When I first began to work as a Performance Coach with sports people 20 years ago it became crystal clear to me that what goes on in the mind and nervous system has a huge effect on performance and being able to play basketball at your full potential. I estimate, in fact, that 60% of performance depends on what is going on inside and 40% on technique and skill.
How much time and resources do you dedicate to the mental aspect of your game?
What would be the impact on your results and career if you dedicated the necessary time on it?
One of the most clear evident cases that I have had was of an athlete who in her words “had lost confidence” in herself. Even though she increased her hours and intensity of training her performance was at an all-time low. She hadn´t even qualified for the finals of her distance in the previous Olympic Games.
For me confidence is not a general term, it is a series of precisely definable processes that occur within you. After working with her to make these exact changes her performance transformed like night to day and she went on to win a bronze medal in the following Olympics and many other world class medals thereafter.
There are 4 levels to the mental training that you require to play basketball at your full potential:
- The images, sounds and feelings that you create at a conscious and unconscious level.
- The Peak Performance Psycho-Emotional States.
- Resetting your nervous system.
- Accelerated Learning.
Images, Sounds and Feelings
Your brain “thinks” in images, sounds and feelings and it does so at a conscious and unconscious level. They create what you believe about yourself and the world and what you believe is possible. Whether you know it or not you are constantly putting limits on your potential, Lionel Messi, one of the most successful football players in Spain puts it like this:
“Where others see an end, I see an opportunity to improvise, there are no limits”
In fact, all the greatest sports people have trained themselves to have this vision. In order to do so requires learning a series of tools and techniques which literally rewire your brain so that it automatically produces all the images, sounds and feelings that propel you towards higher and higher levels of your potential.
Peak Performance Psycho-Emotional States
I am sure that you are already aware of many of these states, as I constantly hear coaches telling players to play intensely or to improve their focus. However, the greatest challenge comes just in the moments when there is most pressure.
What would it mean to you to have such a level of skill and control over these states that you can enter into them instantly and whenever you want? Even more, if we trained and wired your brain so that the greater the pressure the more centred, lucid, relaxed, intense… you become.
In order to play basketball at your full potential, you need to master on and off the court Psycho-Emotional states. The on court States include:
- Having the ability to control time and space
- Being in the zone
- A clear and lucid mind
- Synergy and union with your team mates
- Feeling in total control of your territory
- Enjoyment and relaxation
- Concentration and focus
The off court states, among others, include:
- Energy, commitment, enjoyment in your training
- Trust, synergy and bonding with your team mates and coaches.
With a good methodology, performance coaching and practices, it is completely possible to develop mastery of these states.
“Build that quiet belief, then let your performance do the talking” Jessica Ennis-Hill
Reset your Nervous System
Did you know that your nervous system has stored every fall and injury that your body has suffered, every mistake that you have made which you have felt bad about, every injustice that you have received in the game and every humiliation or every time a coach or team mate has yelled at or reprimanded you.
Every one of these creates tiny micro-muscle tensions and a very subtle lack of coordination between your brain and your muscles. These are what make the difference between a good basketball player and an elite basketball player.
When they accumulate they can come out (sometimes all of a sudden) in blocks and poorer performance.
I have worked with several players who have come to me after injuries because they have been unable to make certain movements as effectively as before. The fastest recovery that I have experienced was with a player who broke a bone in his foot after being fouled as he came down from a jump shot. Once he returned to the court he failed every similar jump shot. We worked an intense hour to reset the fall in his nervous system and 4 days later in the next game he successfully made several shots and since then has had no further problems with it. In fact his 2 point percentage went from 23% to a successful (for a small forward) 50%.
Your brain has 100 thousand million brain cells (about the same as the number of stars in the Milky Way). They are connected by more than 160 thousand kilometers of axons and between 100 billion and a trillion synaptic connection. If that wasn´t sufficiently mind blowing, your brain is also completely plastic and with the right stimulus is capable of changing these connections, forming as many new connections and it desires and of creating all the new brain cells that it needs.
Many of the traditional ways that we have developed for learning skills fail to take into account the way the brain creates new brain cells and connections. However, through accelerated learning techniques we can create a much faster learning process, but more importantly because we can integrate the newly learned skills into real experiences in the game we train your brain to pull out its best skills and creativity just in the perfect moment. This means that you make a quantum leap in your skills and at the same time in your snap judgment.
Were you aware of just how truly amazing your brain is?
Were you aware of the importance of training your brain as well as your body in order to play basketball at your full potential?
I hope that this article has inspired you to do just that so that you can become the truly brilliant player that you have inside you.