What is Basketball Mindset Training? How to Mentally Train for BasketballAug 06, 2022
The ultimate guide for how to get better at basketball mentally.
Do you dream of making your varsity basketball team? Getting a college scholarship? Playing professionally? Or do you want to raise your scoring average, be a better shooter, be the best player on your team, be more clutch?
Do you wish you were more confident on the court? Fearless? Decisive? Locked in?
How do you go about achieving these dreams and desires? Well, you work on your skills - your shooting form, your ballhandling, your finishing. You work on your body - you work on getting stronger, faster, able to jump higher. Skill training and physical training are necessary in order to achieve your dreams and desires as a basketball player. But if that's all you're doing, then you are missing one very important piece:
Mindset training, or mental training.
To become the best basketball player you can possibly be, you have to work on your basketball skills, you have to work on your body, AND you have to work on your mind.
Mindset training is a crucial, yet often overlooked part of basketball development. If you work really hard on your game and your body, but you don't work on your mind, then you are limiting your full basketball potential. You are putting a ceiling on how high you can go as a player and how good you can become.
You can still become a really great player, but you won't become the BEST you can POSSIBLY be. Becoming the best you can possibly be requires you to train your mind as well.
And that's what I'll teach you here in this article. Read on to learn what mindset is, why it's important, and how to actually train your mind, and as a result - unleash your full potential and achieve your dreams as a basketball player.
In This Article:
What is Mindset and Why is it Important?
What is Mindset?
Before we dive into what mindset training is, let's first talk about what your mindset is exactly.
Your mindset is your collection of beliefs. It’s how you think or feel about something. It’s how you move through life and respond to whatever life throws at you. The decisions you make and actions you take on a daily basis are based on your mindset.
So if, for example, part of your mindset is that you don't like doing things that are difficult, well, you’re going to avoid doing things that are difficult as much as possible. You're going to skip that one drill that is really hard, you're not going to seek out tougher competition to play against.
Or if your mindset regarding failure is “failure is really bad," well then you’re going to try to avoid as many situations as you can that have failure as a potential outcome. You're going to pass up that potential game-winning shot, in a game you're not going to try that new move you've been working on in practice.
Since your mindset directly influences your thoughts, actions, and responses - your reality, everything you experience on a day to day basis, it all starts with your mindset. Which also means, your basketball career - how far you go and how good of a player you become - it all starts with your mindset.
Two Types of Mindsets
There are two main types of mindsets that people tend to have. Either a limiting mindset or a growth mindset.
1. Limiting Mindset
A limiting mindset is a mindset full of limiting beliefs - beliefs that hold you back from growing, beliefs that keep you right where you're at as a player. These beliefs do not serve you in any way. They do not help you grow, improve, or evolve.
"I am who I am."
"I can't become a better shooter. I was born this way and there's really nothing I can do about it."
Players with a limiting mindset believe that you sort of are who you are and you can't really grow and evolve. With this mindset, your full potential is capped - there’s a ceiling on the amount of growth you can experience. There's a ceiling on how great a basketball player you can become and how far you can go in your career.
2. Growth Mindset
On the flip side, there's the growth mindset. Players with a growth mindset have opposite beliefs of those with a limiting mindset. Instead of having limiting beliefs, players with the growth mindset have beliefs that expand their full potential. They believe they can grow, they can evolve, they can get better at anything in basketball.
"I'm not stuck the way I am. I can grow and evolve and get better at anything if I put in the effort."
"I can become a better shooter. I just have to put in the work."
In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck defines a growth mindset as one that is "based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts."
This means that as a basketball player with this mindset, you believe you can improve any area of your game that you want to. There is no ceiling to how good you can become...because you believe deep down that as long as you work hard, you will improve.
With a growth mindset, there is no cap on your full potential. Your full potential is unlimited.
Now, the cool part is you get to choose your mindset. You get to choose which one of these mindsets you want to have.
You aren’t born with one mindset or the other. Your mindset is formed as you grow up based on how/what you're taught by your parents/teachers/friends/society. But you are in full control of your mindset and if you don’t like certain aspects of the mindset you have now, you can change it.
If you have a limiting mindset in some areas, you aren't stuck with those limiting beliefs forever. You can change them. And that is where mindset training comes in...but first, I want to quickly explain why your mindset and why the beliefs you have are so important for basketball.
Why Your Mindset Matters for Basketball
The mindset you have is so important for your basketball career because it's the key to becoming the basketball player that you dream of becoming.
And one of the reasons that your mindset is the key to becoming the player you want to become is because your mindset is what takes you to the next level as a player. Here's why:
1. Your Mindset is Like a Multiplier Boost
When you take your basketball skills (your shooting/ballhandling/finishing ability, etc) and your physical skills (strength/quickness/vertical/etc) and you add in a growth mindset, the growth mindset multiplies everything else.
Take shooting for example. Lets say on a scale of 1-10, your ability as a shooter is a 6 out of 10. But now you add in your mindset. You add in belief in yourself, confidence, resilience, laser-focus. What’s that take your shooting ability to? 7, 8, 9. On the other hand, if your shooting ability is a 6 but if you lots of doubt, you aren't that confident, you fear missing, you get distracted easily, now all of a sudden your shooting ability goes down. A 3, 4, or 5 for example.
And the same goes for your finishing ability, or ballhandling ability, your defense, you name it. The effect that your mindset has on every other part of your game is massive. And not to mention, your mindset is what's going to make you stand out from the rest of your competition.
Because when everyone has the basketball ability, and everyone has the athleticism, whats left to make you stand out? What's left to give you that slight edge? Your mindset.
Think of some of the best NBA players of all time. MJ, Kobe, Lebron. It’s well known that these players were mentally elite. And that’s not to say other players didn’t have a killer mentality, but when you combine elite talent with elite athleticism and an elite mindset, you get an elite player.
The further you progress in your basketball career, the better your competition gets from a physical and skill stand-point. At some point, everyone has great basketball skills and most players have great athleticism.
So then, what is left to separate you from your competition? If everyone is really skilled, and really athletic, what makes you stand out then? It's your mindset. Have a stronger mindset than everyone else and you will be great, you will stand out.
"Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change." - Unknown
2. With the Growth Mindset, You Can Do Anything
The second reason your mindset is important in basketball is because you can become anything you want to with a growth mindset.
If you want to become a better shooter, you can. With a growth mindset, you know that all you have to do is put in the work and over time, your shooting will improve.
If you want to get better at free throw shooting, you can.
If you want to be great, then you can be great. But first have to know it's possible, and you have to believe it's possible. Which is where your mindset comes in. When you have a growth mindset, when you know that you can grow and evolve and get better at anything with hard work and effort, well, then you’re going to put in the work and do whatever it takes to become great.
As Henry Ford said, "Whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can't, you're right."
So that's what mindset is, the different types of mindsets, and why it's so important to have a growth mindset for basketball. The next question then is what exactly is mindset training? How do you go about training your mindset so that you can develop this growth mindset towards every area of your basketball development?
What is Basketball Mental Training?
Mindset training, or mental training is when you work on areas of your current mindset that need improvement in order for you to grow. Or in order for you to achieve what you don't currently have.
So for basketball, basketball mindset training is when you work to improve areas of your current mindset that are preventing you from being an even better basketball player. Or, areas of your mindset that are preventing you from achieving what you don't currently have (for example: playing at the next competitive level that you dream of playing at).
Maybe you're a very skilled basketball player but you lack confidence, or you don't play well under pressure, or you have some doubts about yourself. Well then for you, in order to play even better than you do now, you'd train your mindset by working on your confidence, your clutch mindset, and your beliefs.
When you mental train in basketball, you transform the mindset you have now. You evolve. You evolve into the best basketball version of yourself by training whatever it is that is currently preventing you from being your best - and this is different for every player.
Mental training for basketball helps you become a better player, achieve a dream you have, or, it can help you with something difficult that you're going through. Maybe you're facing some sort of adversity right now in your basketball career.
Maybe you aren't getting as many minutes as you'd like, or you don't have a great relationship with your coach/teammates. Or maybe you're dealing with an injury that's keeping you from playing. Whatever the adversity, mindset training can help you get through it. This is done by working on your perspective towards whatever difficulty you're facing. When you change your perspective towards any adversity you face, you can find the silver-lining and be better and stronger in the long-run because of whatever you've faced.
There are a ton of ways that mental training can help you for basketball, but here are a few common ones:
15 Ways Basketball Mental Training Can Help You
Here are some ways that training your mind for basketball can help you:
- Improve your confidence/shooting confidence
- Thrive under pressure - be clutch
- Overcome any doubt - play with more confidence and decisiveness
- Uninstall fear
- Re-program your attitude about failure
- Develop laser-focus so you can get in the zone and stay in the zone
- Learn how to handle/completely ignore criticism or people comparing you to other players
- Preparing to take the next step in your career (high school/college/pro, etc)
- How to handle lack of playing time
- What to do when you're not improving/hit a wall
- How to handle a poor relationship with coaches/teammates
- Dealing with injury
- Handling the pressure/expectations/criticisms that come with being a basketball player
- Be more consistent (as a shooter/as a player - play as well in games as you do in practice, etc)
- Learn what it takes to be GREAT. To be ELITE.
As you can see there are so many benefits to mindset training for basketball. So then, how do you go about training your mind for basketball exactly?
How to Mentally Train for Basketball
You're now aware of what your mindset even is, why it's so important for basketball, what mindset training is and how it can help you.
So then the next question is: how can I train my mind for basketball? How do I go about training mentally for basketball.
Well, there's a few steps you want to take when it comes to how to train your mind for basketball:
1. Identify Where You Need to Improve
In order to train mentally, you first have to become aware of where mentally you need to improve. What areas of your mindset are lacking right now? Which parts of your mindset are holding you back from being an even better basketball player?
As far as skill-training goes, when you want to improve your basketball abilities you first identify which skills you need improve in order to become a better player. What areas of basketball are preventing you from being an even better player? Is it your shooting? Your handles? Your finishing ability? Your defense?
Once you identify your weaknesses, you work to strengthen them through your workouts. Mental training works the same way. You have to first identify which parts of your mindset are "weak" so to say. A better way to say it is identify which parts of your mindset are limiting, which parts are holding you back.
I suggest taking 10 minutes to sit down somewhere quiet and reflect on your basketball career up until this point. Write down on a piece of paper (or in your phone):
- Every area of your mindset where you are not as strong as you'd like to be. Here are some example aspects of your mindset:
- overcoming fear/doubt
- handling pressure
- handling criticism/judgement/comparison
- dealing with adversity
- All the limiting beliefs (negative beliefs that don't serve you in any way) you can think of that you have regarding your basketball career. For example :
- I'll never get better at ____
- I'm not good enough to make varsity/play in college/play professionally
- I can't be the player my team relies on in pressure moments
- I'm not confident enough
- I'll never become a starter
- I'll never be the best player on my team
- really anything that starts with "I can't" "I won't" "I'll never" "I'm not"
Awareness is a major part of transformation. So just by becoming aware of where you can improve your mindset, you are already taking a huge step towards that transformation.
2. Learn How to Improve That Aspect
Now that you're aware of where you need to improve your mindset, the next step is to learn how to improve that particular aspect.
1. Learn The New Beliefs You Need to Adopt
One way you can improve any aspect of your mindset is by coming up with new, positive beliefs that you can adopt in place of the limiting beliefs that you currently have.
Let's say you've identified that you need to improve your confidence, specifically your shooting confidence. And you've identified that you have a limiting belief about shooting confidence along the lines of, "I'll never become a better shooter." Well, the next step for you would be to identify a positive belief that can you adopt in place of the limiting belief. It's as simple as replacing "I'll never become a better a shooter," with "I will become a better shooter with work."
Go back to the list of limiting beliefs that you wrote down in Step 1.
One by one, go through each limiting belief and think of a more positive replacement. Write it down below the limiting belief and then cross out the limiting belief.
It's as simple as:
- limiting belief: "I'm not good at dribbling with my off-hand and I'll never get better."
- positive replacement: "I might not be great with my off-hand right now, but with hard work and effort, I will improve."
It's that easy. For each limiting belief you wrote down, write down a more positive belief underneath it. Replace those limiting beliefs with better ones, with more positive ones. Limiting beliefs don't serve you in any way. Positive beliefs do.
2. Learn The Mindset of The Player You Seek to Become
Another way you can learn how to improve a particular aspect of your mindset is by learning the mindset of a player who already has the qualities you seek. How does that player think and act?
Using the previous example, if your goal is to become a fully confident shooter, then learn the mindset of a fully confident shooter. How exactly does a fully confident shooter think? What positive beliefs do they have? How do they act? How do they carry themselves?
When you learn these things, then you can start taking on these qualities and applying them to your own mindset. When you start thinking and believing and acting like a confident shooter, then you will soon become one yourself.
Learning how to improve different areas of your mindset is also where working with a mindset coach can be really beneficial. More on that soon.
3. Wire in Your New Identity
You've identified which parts of your mindset you need to improve, you've learned how to improve them. The next step to mindset training is to wire in these changes and to wire in your new identity.
When you train your mindset, what you're actually doing is rewiring it. You're rewiring your mindset at a brain level. You start by learning what it takes to rewire it (steps 1 and 2), and then you implement what you learned on a daily basis until it becomes your new identity. Your old mindset and identity is the one where you had all those limiting beliefs. Your new mindset and identity is the one where you have nothing but positive beliefs that serve you.
So now it's all about applying your new mindset and new beliefs to your day to day life. Applying them everyday to your actions and your decisions and your thoughts…. and breaking old thought patterns and old habits that no longer serve you, that hold you back.
It’s just like learning how to improve your jumper. You can learn what it takes to shoot better, but it doesn’t stop there. Then you need to go out and actually apply what you learned and implement those things over and over until they become a part of your jump shot. Until it becomes automatic.
Rewiring your mindset works the same way. There are a few ways to go about this. The more you do, the quicker you'll transform:
1. Continually Replace Limiting Beliefs With Positive Ones
You've already identified any limiting beliefs you have, and you've already identified positive replacements. This is a great first step. But it's not going to permanently change your mindset right then and there. Old, limiting beliefs don't disappear forever right away. They try to hang around for a while. They put up a fight on the way out.
Which means that as you try to improve your shooting confidence let's say, there will still be times where you have doubts. That's ok. This is a normal part of the process.
The important part is to catch yourself doubting. Notice that you're feeling doubtful, notice that your old, limiting belief is popping up, and replace it with the positive alternative that you came up with. Catch and replace.
For example, whenever you catch yourself thinking something like, "I'll never become a great 3 point shooter," immediately say to yourself, "Wait, yes I CAN become a great 3 point shooter." Don't listen to the limiting, negative belief. Don't believe it. Squash the negative belief with a positive belief instead. The more you do this "catch and replace" technique, the less power you give to the limiting belief. And with repetition, you'll reach the point where you no longer even have the limiting belief. It'll stop popping into your head. It'll give up. It'll be like, "Well, I keep getting replaced so I'm just not even going to show up anymore."
And all of a sudden, your mindset towards 3 point shooting is rewired. Your programmed response to 3 point shooting is now a positive belief. And as a result, you WILL become a great 3 point shooter. It takes time to achieve this, but it will happen for you as long as you are consistent with this "catch and replace" process.
2. Meditation, Visualization, and Affirmations
Another way to wire in your new mindset is to do one of or all of the following practices:
- stating affirmations
Meditating, visualizing, and stating affirmations on a daily basis will supplement and really speed up the mindset rewiring process.
You can learn more about meditating for basketball here:
- Article: Why Basketball Players Should Meditate Daily >>
- Youtube Video: Why Every Basketball Player Should Meditate Daily >>
- Guided Meditation: Pregame >>
- Guided Meditation: Post-game >>
- Guided Meditation: Increase Your Shooting Confidence >>
The guided meditations listed above also include the use of visualization and affirmations so you can learn more about those techniques by listening to those.
By practicing these techniques on a daily basis you will ingrain your new positive beliefs into your subconscious. And when a belief is in your subconscious, it is your automatic response. You don't even think about it. 3 point shooting? Boom. "I CAN become a great 3 point shooter. I AM a great 3 point shooter."
Remember, be patient with this process. Rewiring your mindset is not going to happen overnight. And the negative beliefs you have are not going to go away easily. They're going to try to hang around. They're going to go down swinging. But they will go down if you are resilient and you continue to apply this process with consistency and persistence.
4. Work With a Mindset Coach
Lastly, you may want to consider working with a mindset coach to help you with your mindset training. A mindset coach can help you with all 3 of these steps and setup a plan for you going forward.
For instance, you may have some limiting beliefs that you aren't aware of because they are so deeply rooted. A mindset coach can help you dig those out and learn a more positive approach to whatever it is you have that limiting belief about.
Also, a mindset coach can give you strategies to implement your new mindset into your day to day life and basketball career.
If you're interested in learning more about working with a basketball mindset coach you can click the link below for more details.
Basketball mindset training is when you work on areas of your current mindset that need improvement in order for you to grow and become a better player.
- For example: maybe you want to shoot at a higher percentage, and to do that, you know you need to shoot with more confidence. Well with mindset training, you would work on improving your confidence, and as a result, become a better shooter.
- How to mentally train for basketball: 1. Identify which aspects of your mindset you need to improve. 2. Learn the new beliefs you need to adopt to improve that aspect. 3. Continually implement these new beliefs in your day-to-day life until they become automatic