Michael, a 16 year old basketball player has finally made the varsity team at his high school. He lives, eats, and breathes basketball following his favorite stars in the NBA and College. His dream is to play for UNC like his hero Michael Jordan whom his parents were inspired to name him after.
Michael has everything going for him – height, speed, quickness and a great shot that he has practiced for uncountable hours since he started specializing in basketball 2 years ago. In pickup games, Michael is amazing and nobody can guard him as he makes just about everything when he has an open shot.
During games, however, it can go two ways for Michael:
1. He makes his first few shots or most of them and he continues to tear up his opponents and he plays just like he does in pickup games. This is why he made the team.
2. He misses one or two of his first shots and then it seems like he turns into a different player. He gets timid and passes off when he has the open shot. His parents remark that they can see his body language is completely off. Even the fans notice how he slaps the side of his head when he comes to the bench. Game over for Michael.
When asked by his coach or his Dad what happens to him in scenario #2 above, he says he loses confidence in his shooting.
Confidence in shooting is everything to a basketball player!
What’s the solution for all the Michaels out there?
How does a basketball player get confidence in shooting after missing a few in a row?
Great players say to just keep on shooting until it comes back. Easier said than done, right?
Here’s what to do:
1. Start a “confidence journal”
write out a list of all the reasons why you CAN be confident. The list will have such things as –
Because I have skills – write down a letter to yourself about your skills
Because I have been confident before. List the games when you were confident.
Because these people have told me I’m good or that I have a good shot or any other such praise from outside sources like coaches and teammates. List what they have said to or about you.
Any stats that prove you’re good
A tracking of your performances from your practice games where you play like you know you can. For example – Today, I shot 12 for 14 with 28 points.
2. Connect your thoughts to your body
Once a day, take 5 minutes before you go to bed and read your confidence journal. Bring up those confident feelings all over again in your body. Re-live those past times when you really were confident and making everything.
Repeat to yourself this phrase that you will bring with you to the actual game:
“Confidence is Mine Now”
Notice how you created confident feelings and thoughts from scratch. This is power!
Get in bed, close your eyes and imagine yourself having just missed 2 or 3 in a row (it’s going to happen) and focus on those feelings you just generated. As you fall asleep, imagine yourself playing with that confidence WITH the knowledge that you just missed 2 or 3 in a row…and coming back to make everything after that. Keep repeating:
“Confidence is Mine Now”
(you can come up with a different phrase about confidence if you want)
This is what I call – Pre-living success.
You have to do this exercise regularly and often. Don’t expect that you are going to solve a lack of confidence in the game by just reading this article and expecting to be magically confident the next time things don’t go well on the court.
Nobody does this the way I teach it here. Coaches tell you to visualize your shots going in and see yourself winning the championship and other such basic techniques, none of which will help you when your confidence has left you because your shots aren’t falling.
**You have to get specific about the game time scenarios and train your body and mind to do what you want AT THE TIME you want it to do it during the game.
Very few basketball players, especially younger ones will actually follow through and do this. They will continue to fall apart after a few misses and they will think that all they have to do is practice shooting more and their coach will give them such simple advice as “You have to believe in yourself” …and nothing will change.
Why? Because it’s a subconscious belief and they don’t go away easily. Don’t be one of those. Work on this as much as you do your free throws.
Get this advantage. Having confidence in your shot is what allows your body to follow through with the skills you have. You know that’s true because you have confidence in practice and pickup games don’t you. Getting confidence in your shooting will pay off far more than tweaking the mechanics of your game.
Let’s do this,
The Mental Toughness Team
P.S. This is just a small portion of the training we do in Basketball Mental Toughness program. If you want unstoppable confidence in your game, go check it out!