“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do”, Epictetus
We can change whom wea are. Following what psychologists call ‘self-talk’ helps us change. Daily an inner voice, our self-conscious, refreshes itself with comments about our identity and our behavior. We control that narrative. We struggle when that voice signals fear, anxiety, negativity, tension, anger, selfishness, and yearning (acronym FANTASY). Harmful thoughts limit not only whom we are but whom we can be.
If our players tell themselves that they’re not good enough, too slow, unbalanced, vulnerable to zone defenses or pressure, then we cannot get past that. We can empower ourselves with positive self-talk, positive imagery, and positive identity (who I am) and performance (what I do) statements.
As coaches we can facilitate our players’ mental strength. A rebounder might say, “I block out, get, and protect the ball.” The playmaker’s inner voice says, “I lead, control the game, and create for my teammates. I make the right play at the right time.” Developing the inner voice can translate ability and potential into consistent performance. Improving their mental strength, confidence, poise, and maturity can help them raise the ceiling of both their success and leadership.
As an individual and a team, you can never achieve more than what you believe. Positive self-talk (affirmation) changes your reality. It won’t happen automatically. It takes commitment to a process. Make and reinforce a list of your personal assets and create an impenetrable mental fortress of personal value.
Help your athletic, gifted, talented, and deserving players realize their dreams. Unlocking their mental capacity guarantees their success (especially off the court) every bit as much as their basketball training.
“We prepare. We compete. We execute.”
Ron Sen is an assistant coach in a middle school girls basketball program and a primary and specialty care physician. Follow Ron Sen on Twitter!