1. Everyone gets Nervous – Bill Russell, the NBA’s greatest winner of all-time is said to have been so nervous that he would vomit before every game. Some of the game’s best players have admitted to being nervous before every game they have ever played. Being nervous before a game is normal, but once the ball goes up to play those nerves should go away. A great quote to remember is “everyone gets nervous, it comes down to who makes them fly in the same formation.” Don’t let your nerves affect your performance, embrace your nerves and laugh about them after the game!
2. Stop the Negative Self-Talk – Your internal words are very important and negative self-talk causes a decline in your performance. Stop the negative chatter in your mind before and during your basketball games. Instead of saying negative things in your mind try positive mantras that keep you focused on the game and remind you to stay strong and calm. Your words often become your actions!
3. Move on to the Next Play! – Too many youth players make a mistake (ex// turnover, missed layup, etc.) and dwell on it which leads to more mistakes. Don’t let one mistake affect your future play and body language. Understand what you should have done better but don’t let it ruin your confidence in making plays for the rest of the game. Whenever you make a mistake, acknowledge it quickly but get focused right back on the task at hand!
4. Visualize – One of the best things you can do before your games is visualize all the successful things you are going to do. Once you see it in your mind, you can make it happen in real life. When you get good at visualizing before a game it will seem like the things you are doing on the court you have done already. Check out this quote from B.J. Armstrong:
“I believe that if I can take twenty or thirty minutes before each game and visualize whats going to happen, I’ll be able to react to it without thinking, because I’ll already have seen it in my mind. When I’m lying down before the game, I can see myself making a shot or boxing out or getting a loose ball. And then when I see that come up during the game, I don’t think about it, I do it. There are no second thoughts, no hesitation. Sometimes, after the game, I’ll go, “Wow!” I saw that! I anticipated it before it happened.”
5. Work Hard – Perhaps the best way to build confidence and inner belief is to work harder than everyone else and be over-prepared for your basketball games. It’s hard to be nervous when you know you have put in the work to be successful. There is a circular relationship between hard work and confidence because the harder you work the more successful you will be in your basketball games which builds your confidence. When your confidence is building it makes you work harder and harder because you see the results. Be the hardest worker!