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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Basketball: Confidence Game

Note: this is originally posted at my local volleyball site, but works equally well for basketball. 

"Confidence comes from proven success." - Bill Parcells

Better players have more confidence; confidence makes players better. How do we advance along the confidence continuum? We need a combination of physical skills (to earn belief) and emotional skills to translate those skills into action during moments. We cannot be our best until we believe in our best

Years ago I met Derek Jeter's sport psychologist at an investment conference. He shared thoughts about trading psychology. He taught Jeter to improve his posture, his walk, how he carried himself, and how he thought. That informed legendary performance.

Our inner voice speaks to us tens of thousands of times daily. Retrain that voice; repurpose those messages. We can rewire ourselves to improve and become our better version. Forget about being bulletproof or failure-proof; become success-oriented and failure-resistant

Most professional and Olympic athletes use mindfulness as a resilience tool. Mindfulness decreases stress hormones (cortisol), lowers blood pressure, improves attention and awareness, improves learning and memory, and reduces anxiety (partly by reducing density in the brain's fight or flight center, the amygdala). As Frank Herbert wrote in Dune, "Fear is the mind killer." Here's a brief summary of Search Inside Yourself discussing benefits and technique. 

Resilience training (sport psychology) has other avenues like those discussed in 10-Minute Toughness by Jason Selk. Here's another link to an excellent summary

Morse code TTP (Trust the process.)

Process produces results. So develop your process.

Breathing - centering breathing. The 'easiest' is a 'square' pattern of four counts, in - hold - out - hold and repeat. Mindfulness training also teaches breathing techniques. 

Identity statement. This is who you are. "I am a capable, confident, focused volleyball player. I am successful." 

Highlight reel. Create an ESPN-style mental highlight reel of your best play...those moments accumulated over time that represent your best. Visualize that highlight reel daily for a couple of minutes. 

Performance statement. This is how you play. "I play team volleyball. I play with knowledge, intensity, and aggressiveness. I am relentless; I do not stop."

Breathing. Finish your routine with cleansing and refreshing breaths. 

Mireya Luis may have been the greatest women's volleyball player ever. She grew up in Cuba jumping to pick fruit from trees. Her biggest concern was that she might catch her feet in the net. 

In Cuba, the team spends 2:45 of a three hour practice on spiking. That is their chosen style of play, relentless attack. 

Here's a post from my basketball blog including footwork, balance, and jumping training

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