“You prepare the best you can. I can’t step up my preparation because I prepare as much as I can all the time. The focus is going to be there. At the end of the day it’s just basketball”
Basketball players are known for superstitions and sometimes choreography of a pre-game handshake, entrance song, or other intricate rituals. It is not so important what the custom is, but rather the confidence and mental toughness it instills into the athlete’s mindset.
The successful basketball player uses the pregame routine as not only a physical exercise, but more importantly as a method to condition their basketball confidence for the game situation. Mental preparation for basketball incorporates the use of pre-game routine to instill mental toughness and sharpen focus on the player’s goals for the game.
Pre-game routine that condition basketball confidence must include the following:
- They must proactively strengthen your confidence to face adversity. Whether it is listening to pumped up music, high fiving a teammate, or a huddle chant, it must effectively instill the belief that “I’m Better than my Opponent”.
- They must prepare you to focus on the mental process of becoming game ready. Some players put their clothes on in a certain order, or lace their shoes specifically. These are examples of the process of preparation that instills confidence in your equipment and your body because you maintain consistency. There is a calmness that occurs when athletes associate with a routine. If a player owns “Lucky” shorts, then most assuredly they are lucky because they were previously worn and found success. Anything, no matter how mundane, can relieve anxiety of the unknown, and therefore allow for a stronger focus. The knowledge in your process allows you to say, “I’m ready!”
- They must allow you to trust your training and practice. This can be as simple as the order of warm-up drills, stretching, or even the way an athletic trainer tapes an ankle. The foods you choose to eat before a game, and the methods you decide to maintain hydration are all critical to basketball confidence and believing, “I’m prepared!”
- They must remind you of what your goals are for the game. Effective pregame rituals keep a player’s focus on their role of the team, and their methods of execution, not concern over an opponent, fans, the media, or any other negative distracters. Mental preparation for basketball includes analyzing thoughts hours before the game, and consciously choosing to maintain a positive mindset.
The time prior to any game is very critical for the mental preparation of conditioning enough basketball confidence to withstand the continual momentum changes throughout the game. Once a player understands the importance the pre-game routines play in their mental focus, then it is easier to analyze the effectiveness of the routine, and if they meet the criteria to truly provide a player the necessary mental toughness to play at their peak performance. So wear the lucky shorts, eat the same pre-game meal, or continue with the fifteen-step handshake.
Just understand it is all important confidence conditioning .and mental preparation.
HoopGrind Director of Player Development | Pro Skills Trainer | Athletic Director | Former D1 Hooper