Have you ever felt numb and sweaty before stepping on the court? Have you ever felt that you can’t perform your best because you are stressed out? We have all been there. A lot of players complain that they get nervous before or during games and it is affecting their performance. When anxiety sets in you can’t think clearly, you can’t play in a controlled manner and naturally your performance drops.
A bad game may lead to more nervousness and more bad games. In that way, the coach’s trust may also decline if they don’t know what you are dealing with.
Relax! Realize that everybody gets nervous. Even the best players in the world sometimes let their emotions get the best of them! Professionals have learned to find ways to calm themselves before and during matches and overcome a couple of bad performances.
Find the root of your Anxiety
Has a bad shooting streak affected you, or maybe consecutive games where you make more mistakes than usual? First of all, try to calm down. Everybody has bad games. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about it and let it get into you. If it’s mistakes that hurt your confidence, play simple basketball until you feel comfortable. If you are missing shots you normally make, remember, everybody, suffers shooting slumps. Even Klay Thompson shot the ball poorly before breaking the all-time record for three-pointers in a game.
Drew Hanlen, the famous trainer who works with NBA players advises identifying the issue first and then proceed to fix it. It could be either a mechanical or a mental thing. In the first case, examine if something is off with your technique and practice until you regain your confidence. If it’s a mental issue, it’s again a matter of getting reps in and becoming comfortable with your game again.
The harder part is if it a psychological issue off the court. Then you have to discuss with your parents and your coach to try to solve that problem or see if you can learn to set it aside once you step on the court. address. Remember, it’s normal to feel stressed or a bit overwhelmed with school, work, basketball and any other obligations you might have. Learn to address them effectively or operate despite them. Take action against anything stops you from becoming the best version of yourself.
Communicate with your coach
Your coach is there to help you and your team succeed. He/She is there to help you develop as a player and as a person. Of course, your coach is also the one who evaluates you and decides on your time on the court. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to hide your issues and your worries from him/her in order to look tough or for fear of missing playing time.
More often than not, your coach will be supportive and will guide you through your on-court issues. Communication might also help him/her find new ways to utilize your skills on the court and connect with you. Of course, sometimes just the simple act of vocalizing your worries makes them appear less intimidating. In any case, it’s best if your coach knows what is affecting your performance, as he/she is the one who can help you build character and turn your bad moments into valuable lessons!
Master the Fundamentals
Practicing the fundamentals is a top priority for you. The fundamentals are what gives you consistency and confidence to do more advanced stuff later on. Mastering the basics helps you eliminate anxiety-producing easy mistakes and keeps you in the game. Being dependable is crucial to maintaining your coach’s faith. Keeping your head up scanning the court when you are dribbling, being a solid ballhandler with both hands, passing accurately, not traveling, boxing out, hitting the easy shots, not missing layups. All these “simple” stuff add up in the end, and they produce winning basketball.
I know you all want to try the latest move your favorite star made last night. You want to practice step backs, fancy dribbles and acrobatic layups. However, the first step to being able to make those is to master their components. Mastering those will allow you to be in control when you practice those moves. Being in control and confident in your dribble, steady and in balance when you are shooting will progressively enable you to make more advanced moves. Don’t practice (yet) shots and moves that you would never use in a game just because they look cool. Listen to your coach, he knows if you can get something by practicing this.
Live in the moment!
Lock-in on your current situation, push away thoughts about your past mistakes, the uncertainty of the future, and focus on the moment. A lot of times anxiety comes from overanalyzing things. When you are on the court you want your training and your instincts to take over, not to get lost in your deep thoughts.
Consider developing a routine, as the best players in the world do. Stephen Curry’s insane dribbling drills gather all the attention before the Warriors’ games, however, they are not just showboating. Creating a routine and sticking to it calms your nerves before the game, pumps you up and gets you in the perfect mindset for action.
It’s all about taking a step back, remembering what makes you special and giving your best effort on the court!
Focus on the bigger picture
Your basketball career is a marathon, not a sprint. If you have a plan, work with your coaches and take care of yourself, a couple of bad games won’t stop your development. They are only minor obstacles you have to overcome, to forge a character on and off the court. Try to see the bigger picture. Take pride in your development so far, look to the future and remember what you are working to accomplish. Don’t let the emotions of the moment wash away the work you’ve been putting.
Even if you are hell-bent on making a living off basketball, sometimes you have to remind yourself that, essentially, basketball is just a game. Maybe you just have to get back to the play element, rediscover the joy on what you are doing and your anxiety will go away.
Trust the work you’ve done so far. Lace your sneakers, play your game and have fun!
Don’t stop believing in yourself. Join Athlenda cause it’s game time!