How to Lock in Before a Basketball Game - 5 Ways to Get Focused

basketball mindset Dec 02, 2022
focus in basketball

Get in the zone before your next game and play at a higher level

To play at a high level in basketball, you have to be locked in. You have to be focused.

When you're locked in before a basketball game, you will play better for a variety of reasons.

Being laser-focused will help you execute plays better, shoot better, finish better, defend better.

It'll help you to see all the details of the game unfolding - the ever-changing spacing on the floor, an open driving lane, a tendency that the player your guarding has, a play that your opponent keeps running.

Also, when you are focused heading into a basketball game, you're able to ignore distractions better - like a defender contesting your shot or the opposing crowd booing you when you're at the free throw line.

Or, your own mental distractions - things like fear, doubt, or worry.

If you go into a game distracted, or with your mind racing, thinking about a million different things, you simply won't play as well.

Having a clear mind and narrow focus will help you to dominant your mental game and play better as a result.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways you can clear your mind and lock in before your next game.

If you'd rather watch a video on this topic, check out my Youtube video >>

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


1. Meditate or Do Deep Breathing


The first thing you can do to get focused for your upcoming basketball game is to meditate for 5-10 minutes.

Meditation is the simple act of being still and being present

By being still and present, you allow your mind to quiet down and you shut out any distractions. When your mind is quiet, your focus increases. 

What to do:

  • close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath
  • pay attention to each inhale and each exhale
  • try not to let your mind wander, but if it does that's ok, just bring your attention right back to your breath
  • do this for 5-10 minutes either at home before the game, or on the bus or in the locker room

If you're interested in learning more about meditation and its benefits for basketball players, you can check out the resources linked below. 

Read: Why Every Basketball Player Should Meditate Daily (Ultimate Beginner's Guide) >>

Guided Meditation: Pregame Meditation for Basketball >>


Deep Breathing

Another option which is similar to meditating is to do a deep breathing exercise.

With a deep breathing exercise, you inhale for a specific duration, hold your breath for a specific duration, and then exhale for a specific duration.

There are a variety of deep breathing techniques, here are a few. Experiment and find which ones you like best:

  • Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4
  • Inhale for 4, exhale for 8
  • Inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4
  • Inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 8
  • Inhale for 5, hold for 5, exhale for 5

Choose one of these techniques to do for a few minutes before games. The simple act of counting while you breathe and slowing your breathing down like this will help you to narrow your focus.

By the way, if you find yourself losing focus during a game, repeat one of these exercises during a timeout or when you're on the bench to get locked back in.

Listen: Post-Game Guided Meditation >>


2. Visualize

Visualization is when you close your eyes and you imagine yourself doing something in your mind's eye. 

For basketball, it means closing your eyes and picturing yourself playing basketball, imagining yourself on the court practicing or playing in a game.

Studies have shown that getting mental reps through visualization is an effective way to prepare for and get better at something. So picturing yourself playing in a game before you actually play in it is a great way to mentally prepare for a basketball game.

Visualization also helps you to focus before playing basketball. By visualizing yourself playing in your upcoming game, it will bring your attention to the game and get you zeroed in on what it is you're about to do.

Before your game, take a few minutes to close your eyes and imagine yourself playing in your upcoming game.

Imagine yourself playing well. Imagine yourself making shots, playing good defense, whatever it is that you do on the court. Imagine yourself being confident, being fearless, not being afraid of the moment or any pressure.

Just a few minutes of visualization before your game will help you to get locked in. You can do this right after you finish meditating or deep breathing too.

Guided meditation: Shooting Confidence Guided Visualization >>


3. Listen to Music

Listening to music is a great way to get focused for a game.

Music can put you in the right frame of mind and get you in the zone before game-time. It gives you something to focus on, rather than worrying about the game, any hypotheticals about the game, or any other distractions.

Listening to your favorite songs or a favorite pregame playlist will certainly help you to narrow your focus, but try listening to binaural beats too.

Listening to binaural beats before a game will help you to:

  • improve your focus
  • maintain positive thinking
  • relax
  • reduce stress or anxiety (calm pregame nerves)

You can learn more about the science behind binaural beats here

To improve your focus pregame, listen to either alpha binaural beats (8-14 Hz) or beta binaural beats (14-30 Hz). You can find these on Spotify, Youtube, or other music platforms.

Read also: How To Get In The Zone In Basketball >>


4. Turn Off Your Phone

Your phone is a distraction machine. There are an infinite amount of things on your phone that can take your concentration away from the game you're about to play in.

If you want to get fully locked in before your basketball game, it's important to ignore those distractions which is best done by eliminating them altogether.

This means either turning your phone off completely, or at the very least, turning on "Do Not Disturb Mode."

To play your best in your upcoming game, you want to go in with a clear mind. Turning your phone off will help you to do that.

Read: What is Mindset Training? How to Mentally Train in Basketball >>


5. Establish a Routine

No matter which of these tips you decide to use, the important thing is to establish a pre-game routine that works for you.

Do one or two of these things. Do all of them. Either way, create a pre-game routine for yourself that helps you to best get in the zone before your game.

Besides these pre-game mental tips, your routine should also include what you do physically on the court before your game.

Warm up the same way, do the same stretches, the same ballhandling drills, shoot the same shots.

The reason it's good to establish a routine is because every time you do your routine before a game, it signals to your body - "Hey, it's time to lock in. It's time to get focused."

Routine provides familiarity. And that familiarity will help you to get in the zone before tip-off.

More articles by Basketball Mindset Training:

• How to Boost Your Confidence in Basketball | 10 Tips  >>

• The Complete Guide to Getting in the Zone in Basketball >>

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