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Basketball Mental Toughness: The ONE Stressor Most Players Cannot Handle
Lisa Brown, The Courage to Win
If you want to dramatically increase your basketball mental toughness, I suggest you master the stressor that most players cannot handle. It's called, "I don't like my role." When most basketball players don't like their role or don't get the playing time they want, they fold. They get frustrated and angry, lose their confidence, and implode.
By 'implode,' I mean they perform way below their potential. On the surface, imploding seems dumb. Why would you reinforce the coach's poor image of you? Because secretly, you want to punish the coach. You're hurt, and you want him to hurt too. And the easiest way to do this is play bad. You guilt trip the coach and help the team lose at the same time. We human beings are funny creatures. We'll cut off our nose to spite our face.
There IS a better way to react to this distraction than sabotaging yourself. It's called excelling in your role, and it's one of the key basketball intangibles that will instantly increase your mental toughness in sports. Marc Iavaroni, who played basketball in the NBA and Europe, was stellar at this. Sometimes Marc was a central offensive player who was supposed to shoot and score. Other times, he was required to rebound and set picks ONLY.
When Marc was traded to the Utah Jazz, the team had incredible offensive talent with guys like Karl Malone and John Stockton. So shooting was eliminated from Marc's role. His job was to start each half and play six minutes. The first problem with this role is that when you're not shooting at all, it's easy to mark you...so you're less effective. Then you get taken out of the game just when you're getting warmed up!
These are tough conditions to excel under, but that's exactly what Marc did. The first thing he did was make a special effort to stay connected to the game. "I came early to the arena before every game and practice, trying to capture the feeling of playing." Then he dug down deep into every element of his role: "Know every facet of your role. There is more to being a rebounder than just rebounding. It involves knowing where to be on each play and complementing your teammates' skills."
Marc also kept his relationships with this teammates good by being mature: "The guys on the team understood we all needed to make sacrifices to excel...they respected and appreciated me." The last thing Marc did was think outside the box. He learned how to define success for himself. In Marc's mind, every time he blocked a shot, he gave himself a point. Every time he got a rebound, he gave himself a point.
Now I live in the real world. I know how devastating it is to not get the role or playing time you want. But sometimes, circumstances warrant a special mental toughness from you. With it, you can still succeed.
And remember two things:
1. Out of ten players on a team, usually only one or two are supremely happy with their role.
When you show your coach, "I got this, coach," then he'll consider you for more. Not before. I believe that learning from winning athletes is key to your success. More than anyone, they know what it takes.
That's where I come in. I'd like to guide you through the steps of becoming mentally tough in basketball by teaching you how the fundamentals of mental toughness in sports and basketball.
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