How To Be A More Aggressive Basketball Player - 4 Mental Keys

basketball mindset Feb 12, 2024
be aggressive in basketball

Increase your aggressiveness on the court:

Can you teach basketball players to be more aggressive or to stop hesitating on the court? Or is it just a mentality that you're born with? This is a common question in the world of basketball.

I believe being aggressive in basketball is a mindset. And it's also a choice.

You choose whether you want to be aggressive or not. Often times, this choice is made subconsciously based on your mentality, attitude, and beliefs.

Since aggressiveness is a mindset or a choice, it is absolutely something that you can work on and improve. Just like you can get better at shooting, just like you can get better at being more confident, you can also get better at being more aggressive.

Aggressiveness is a mental skill, and mental skills can be learned and improved just like any other skill.

In this article, we'll explore the four mental keys to having an aggressive mindset. By becoming aware of these things, you can reflect on what your mindset is currently like and whether or not you have any limiting beliefs that are preventing you from being more aggressive.

Becoming aware is half the battle. Choosing to react more aggressively whenever you find yourself being hesitant is the other half. It's a choice. 

To get more aggressive in basketball, you have to choose to do so. And then you need the dedication and self-discipline to continue being aggressive all the time - even when you're tired, even when you don't feel like it.

And then ultimately, being aggressive becomes second nature, a habit, all you know. It will be the only way you know how play.

You might like: How to Be Mentally Tough in Basketball >>


1. Improve Your Confidence By Putting In The Work

The first tip for becoming more aggressive is to improve your confidence.

Confident basketball players are naturally more aggressive basketball players. When you are confident, you believe in yourself and your skills. You believe that you are going to succeed at whatever you do. 

With those beliefs, you will play more aggressively because you feel like you can make an impact and you can succeed. When you lack confidence, you hesitate more because you don't want to mess up, or you don't have a lot of belief that you are going to succeed at what you're doing.

Here's how to gain more confidence so that you become more aggressive on the basketball court: Improve your game by practicing game situations that you normally find yourself in.

Practice game shots that you normally find yourself taking. And practice those at game speed.

"You get better from the reps, but I think more so than just physically you get better mentally and more confident in it because you've done it so often." - Damian Lillard

If you play a lot of pick and roll for example, then practice pick and roll situations every day at game speed. If you find yourself getting a lot of catch-and-shoot opportunities in games, then practice those shots every day from the same spots you shoot from in games.

If you practice what you normally do in a game, you will build your confidence in those shots/situations and you won't hesitate as much and you will naturally increase your aggression on the court. 

Related: How To Boost Your Confidence In Basketball | 10 Tips >>


2. Don't Overthink It Or Hesitate

Many players who lack aggression tend to overthink things. Overthinking leads to hesitation.

"Should I shoot this shot? Should I drive right now? Should I pass? I don't know what to do."

On the flip side, aggressive players act decisively and without hesitation. This is because they don't overthink things. They just react and take action without worrying about whether it's the right decision or not.

"You've got to be free on the court, regardless of if you're 4 or 5 feet outside of the three-point line. If you feel like it's a good shot...just [shoot it]." - Steph Curry

Basketball is a game of reacting. Read and react. Not read, think about, and then react. Trust your instincts.

The more you play, the more experience you'll get with certain situations and the more you will trust your instincts. You'll feel more comfortable in different scenarios and you'll know what the right read and reaction is. 

While you build up that basketball IQ and become a better player, make a point to take decisive action without getting caught up in whether it's right or not. Not all the time, but sometimes in basketball any decisive action is better than hesitation and no action.

You might like: The Complete Guide to Getting in the Zone in Basketball >>


3. Don't Be Afraid To Fail

To become more aggressive in basketball if you aren't already, you have to let go of the fear of failure. Fearing failure is a major contributor to lack of aggression on the basketball court.

"I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying." - Michael Jordan

Basketball players might hesitate because they are afraid to miss a shot, make a mistake, turn the ball over, or make the wrong play. 

If you want to play aggressively, you have to let go of this fear. When playing, don't worry about outcomes. Don't worry if the shot goes in or not. Don't worry if you make a mistake.

Obviously you're not trying to do those things. Your intention is to make every shot you take and never make a mistake, but doing so is just a part of the game. It's part of life.

"There's no failure in sports. It's not a failure, it's steps to success. There's good days, bad days. Some days you are able to be successful, some days you are not...and that's what sports is about. You don't always win." - Giannis Antetokounmpo

Don't let thoughts of failing cloud your mind as you play. It will only make you hesitant. Be confident in yourself and also trust yourself. Trust that it's going to be okay if you do mess up. 

By letting go of this fear of failing, you will become more naturally aggressive on the court as a result.

Guided Meditation: Pregame Meditation for Basketball Players >>


4. Don't Worry About What Other People Think

Another reason basketball players might lack an aggressive play style is because of the fear of what other people think. This ties right in with the previous tip.

Basketball players might fear failing because they are worried about what other people might think or say.

"People will hate you, rate you, shake you, and break you. But how strong you stand is what makes you." - LeBron James

If you place a lot of importance on not wanting to look bad, then that might cause you to hesitate. If you really don't want to let anyone down or fail to meet expectations, then that might cause you to hesitate as well.

Aggressive basketball players are not worried about what other people think. They aren't worried about getting embarrassed if they miss a shot or make the wrong play. 

This frees them to play their game without any added pressure and it frees them to play with full aggression, no matter the outcome.

Related: Handling Criticism in Basketball - How to Deal With Negative Criticism or Hate >>


Other Ways To Be More Aggressive

The previous four tips in this article were all ways to improve your mental game and mental toughness so that you naturally play with more aggression on the court.

Here are some ways be more aggressive in basketball from a physical and fundamental standpoint. Aggressive basketball play is often tied to effort and hustle, and here are some ways to accomplish that.

Dive On The Floor For Loose Balls

Sacrifice your body by diving on the floor for a loose ball at every chance you get.

Try To Save Every Ball From Going Out Of Bounds

Never let a ball go out of bounds because it seems unrealistic that you can save it. You never know unless you try.

Take caution when trying to save a ball under your own basket, though. You don't want to help your opponent get an easy bucket by accidentally saving the ball right to them.

Go After Every Rebound

Box out and try to get every rebound possible, both defensively and offensively. Aggressive basketball players believe every rebound is theirs. 

Increase Your Pressure On Defense

Don't let the opposing player you're guarding feel comfortable. Get in their face and apply pressure every possession. My goal as a defender was to be annoying. I wanted people to cringe when they saw I was going to guard them. "Aw man, this guy?"

Cut With Purpose

Cut to the basket like there's always a chance you'll receive the pass. This makes it harder on the defense. It gives them something to have to pay attention to. When you cut to the basket at half speed, the defense doesn't have to worry about you.

Attack The Basket

Drive to the basket with decisiveness. You don't always have to drive with the intent to score either. Driving to collapse the defense and then kicking it out to an open teammate is a very effective way to create an open jump shot for your team.

Run The Floor

Be the first one back on defense. Take pride in giving up no easy baskets in transition. On offense, sprint full speed and fill the lanes or follow a teammate who's about to take a layup because you never know if they'll miss. 

No Plays Off

It's easy to try to take a play off or two in basketball. Aggressive players take no plays off. Catch your breath when you're on the bench. When you're on the court, go hard and give it everything you've got.


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