10 Mental Preparation Before a Basketball Game

Basketball is also about the following 10 mental preparation steps before joining a game. You will find that when your mind is ready for it, your body will follow. You must, of course, have the right ball handling and shooting skills in place.



Relax Your Mind and Body

This may seem like a counterintuitive move considering that your mind and body should be pumped up. But when your mind and body are relaxed, your shots become more accurate.

This is because you’re not thinking too hard, instead you’re letting your muscle memory take over. Each player has his own way of becoming relaxed before a game.

basketball in hand

You can, for example, listen to mellow music, meditate, or just hang out with your teammates. You should just make a real effort to relax before the game begins.


Stop Being Afraid of Failure

Unfortunately, the fear of failure can set you up for it. Your mind becomes conditioned to the possibility of mistakes so you become paralyzed. As the Nike advert says it well, just do it!

When you stop being afraid of failing, you will take calculated risks that can pay off. You must also remember that even the best players miss their shots more than half the time. Otherwise, their shooting percentages would be in the high 80s and 90s range.

basketball player

Plus, fear results in anxiety that, in turn, tenses your muscles. You’re likely to miss more shots because of your tense muscles. So, relax and take the shot, not think about missing it even before making it.


Stop Planning Ahead for Every Move

While having a plan is good, planning for every move is bad. You have to be prepared for every possible thing on court but also be prepared for a few surprises. You may have control over your actions but not over others.


The bottom line: You must stop overthinking every move even before it happens! Just go into the game with your relaxed mind and body, take the shots, and do what must be done. You will find picking apart the game mechanics will likely result in sudden death.


Focus on Your Zone

You have to free your mind of everyday clutter, such as relationship problems. You must remain focused on the here and now especially on the game. Your game will be so much better for it because your mind’s focused on your zone.


The zone, of course, is when your passes dribbles and shots appear effortless. You’re having fun, too, playing the game with winning coming in a close second.


Trust Your Feelings and Instincts

The hours before the game isn’t the time to entertain your self-doubts. You have to trust your feelings and instincts, which were honed by hours of practice and drills. You should believe in your abilities and capabilities to play well.Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure.


Your mind and body already know what to do – you just have to trust them to do their jobs. When you start doubting yourself, you must look back to your drills and practice. 

You should remember your knowledge and skills – and take pride in them. Your self-confidence will likely come back when you suppress the negative voices.


Meditate to Concentrate

A day before the game, you may want to meditate. Meditation increases the ability to focus by retraining attention on a single thing. The goal can be clearing the mind of clutter in preparation for a game.

Meditation also enhances powerful concentration that, in turn, increases the effectiveness of your game.


Take it from Coach Phil Jackson, known as the Zen Master, who advocate meditation. His players in the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers must engage in Buddhist meditation before practice. Did we mention that Coach Jackson won 10 NBA championships with both teams?


Visualize the Moves

Even before stepping into the court, you should visualize the moves on court. The steps can be as simple as:

  • Stand in the center of the room.
  • Close your eyes and adopt the necessary stance. This can be the defensive or shooting stance.
  • Picture in your mind the scene on court but focus on yourself and the basket.
  • Visualize your moves from getting the ball in your hands to making the shot.
  • Open your eyes and actualize your vision.

This exercise gets your muscle memory, mind and body in readiness for the game. You can also just sit on a chair and visualize these moves. You will likely stop overthinking on court because the moves have become second nature.


Build Your Inner Confidence

Every player goes through a period of self-doubt so there’s no shame in it. But when your negative inner voices take over, you’re in trouble. You can let them tear down your confidence and trust in yourself. You will go into court second-guessing your every move.

basketball passing

The result: You’re not in the zone. You must then work in building your inner confidence. You have to suppress the negativity and focus on your positive skills. Your confidence off-court will translate to confidence on-court.


Improve Your Emotional Quotient

You must learn to control your emotions regardless of the game’s changing circumstances. Your emotional quotient (EQ) will affect your ability to perform under pressure and adjust on the fly. In fact, your EQ will be just as important as your IQ!


Your emotions can cloud your judgment. You can make crucial mistakes because you were frustrated at the way the game’s going, for example.


Get Into It to Enjoy the Game

Of course, winning is still your team’s goal. But you should also enjoy the game for what it is instead of being pressured early on. Without the unnecessary pressure, you will be more relaxed – and we all know the value of a relaxed mind and body!


Final Words

Basketball is equal parts a physical and mental game. You should work on both aspects simultaneously, whether during drills or practice sessions. Your mind and body will work in sync with practice so that both are ready for every game.

Start developing your mind’s mental toughness as early as possible. Your fellow players will intimidate you into submission but you can’t let them!

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