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The Mental Side Of Basketball
by Ernest Solivan, owner Hemispheric Kinesiology

Players and coaches will spend hours on strategies for an upcoming game, but what do they do to mentally prepare. What do they do to insure that the decisions they make during competition best supports their team in winning the game? I am a Peak Performance Kinesiologist. I help athletes achieve peak performance using a muscle testing technique called Hemispheric Kinesiology.

This article is about the mental side of basketball and what you can do to help minimize and/or eliminate mental mistakes during the game that adversely affect the outcome. The first thing you must understand about the mind of a basketball player or coach is that we are dealing with something we cannot see.

Although I cannot see the mind of a player, I can see the kinds of experiences he is creating on the basketball court. For example, if a player cannot score more than 8 points a game, I have to assume he has information stored in his mind that supports him in do that, or he would be doing something else.

The mind is made up of two parts. The conscious mind, and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is known as the "knower" because it has the ability to be aware of itself. It is also the part of the mind that exercises volition or free choice. It also allows us to set goals.

The subconscious mind is known as the "doer" because it merely does what it is programmed to do. It is a part of the mind that stores every experience we have ever had. The subconscious mind is impersonal when it stores information. For instance, it doesnít say, "Iím not going to store this experience because it was a bad experience." IT STORES EVERYTHING!

When you decide to engage in a particular activity like basketball, your conscious mind will send instructions to your subconscious mind, "Send me all the information you have stored relating to basketball?" The information you access from your subconscious mind will dictate how well or how poorly you play. What kind of information? Information relating to your self-image as a player, the team you are about to play, your scoring average, etc.

The reason this player can only shoot 8 points per game is because after a certain age the information is locked into the subconscious mind. This player will continue to shoot 8 points per game until he changes the information. How do you change subconsciously stored information like 8 points per game average to 20 points per game? You must create what is referred to in HK as "critical factor bypass."

Critical factor bypass allows us to unlock the subconscious mind so that subconsciously stored information can be changed. This is accomplished with the use of a performance trigger which is simply the word "relax." The word "relax" is so effective because when a basketball playerís body is relaxed during competition both hemispheres of his brain function at maximum capacity and thatís when you achieve peak performance.

Since the brain controls all activity in the physical body this affects the player both mentally and physically. Mentally because it affect the decisions he makes during the game, and physically because when stress is present in a playerís body the hemispheres of his brain will weaken or switch off. When the brain is in this switched off state a player will miss a free throw with 2 seconds left that could have won the game for his team, or make an uncharacteristic mental mistake at a crucial point in the game.

Here are some suggestions for improving the mental part of your game:

  1. Always set a personal and team goal to win the game. Setting goals is the minds way of telling the body what it expects. At some point before the game sit down and write out your goal to win the game. Also, write how many points you would like to score, how many rebounds, etc.;
  2. Use you imagination. When you use your imagination you will access the same information from your subconscious mind as if you were actually doing it. For instance, if you have trouble at the free throw line, imagine yourself playing in a real game situation with 2 seconds left and the game on the line. If you can make the shot, imagine another stressful situation and keep shooting until you make it. You can also do the same with other shots from the floor.
  3. During the game continue to remind yourself to relax. Remember that when you are relaxed, the hemispheres of your brain will function at maximum capacity, and that is when you achieve peak performance.

Ernest Solivan is a Peak Performance Kinesiologist. His website is www.hk-technology.com

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