The Mental Game of Basketball


In 2015, my wife convinced me to join a game of pick-up basketball at our local gym. At first, I was reluctant to play because I didn’t have experience playing the sport. I would always watch the game after my workouts. I got over my fear and in to the game., I have have been playing ever since.

See the video below shot and edited by my wife, Kai Simon .

I enjoy watching and playing basketball. I connect with the flow and style of movements more than other sports. There are many dynamic skills you can work on to become a better player.

    Some examples of skills that I have improved upon are:

  • -foot quickness
  • -physical conditioning
  • -free throws
  • -blocking out
  • -ball control
  • -jump shot
  • -driving to the basket
  • -pick and roll defense, etc.

Along with these physical skills, I have developed an appreciation and understanding of the mental game of basketball.

One day, I began to pay attention to how my belief systems and ego play a role in my decision making. This offered me a fresh perspective. I noticed my hesitation during games, the fear of making the wrong decision once I got the ball or disappointing a team mate. Being more aware of this thought pattern in the moment and analyzing it off the court, has made in-game decision making easier. I’ve learned that a player’s attitude shapes there performance just as much as there physical condition or skills.

Sports psychology is an important component of athletic training that often gets ignored. In training, our body is the main focus but a player must also have a strategy for his mind. I illustrate this point in a tweet I posted during the 2018 NBA Playoffs Eastern Division Championship Game 7. Watch the short video clip below:

Insight on NBA player Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics and his strategy in high-pressure situations:

“The first thing I do is focus on my breathing. A lot of times our minds are racing 100 miles per hour. We make up stuff in our head that doesn’t exist,” Jaylen said.

Sideline Reporter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude adds,

“Jaylen uses a sports psychologist, Graham Becker. Him and Jaylen work together to identify what’s real and what’s not real. We need to separate our ego from what is real. And if we come out separate of ego and everyone plays their role, we’ll be fine.”

I’m glad to see more athletes are turning to Sports Psychology as a method for dealing with their mental stresses of the game. We can ALL learn from this form of training and use it in our own daily lives.


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