Mental toughness is a measure of individual resilience and confidence. It is demonstrated through your emotional intelligence and the way you approach tough circumstances in life and on the court. More than talent or skill, mental toughness is the greatest individual factor in determining future success.
Not all athletes practice mental toughness. I say practice because being mentally tough does not often come naturally. You have to work at developing the traits of a mentally-tough player and make a conscious effort to habitually practice those traits.
FIVE TRAITS OF MENTALLY-TOUGH ATHLETES
1. Accept Limitations
Mentally- tough athletes know their limitations don’t limit them. In fact, they embrace shortcomings as fuel for improvement. So many athletes spend their time fighting the obstacles that they never grow their natural talents.
NBA guard Isaiah Thomas, for example, could have let his five-foot, nine-inch stature limit him. He had two choices: 1) accept the verdict that he was too small to be a professional basketball player, or 2) focus onthe strengths he’s been blessed with. By shifting his focus from his limitations to his strengths, Thomas had an explosive 2016 campaign and is slowly becoming quite possibly one of the best small guards of all time.
2. Don’t Make Excuses
Mentally-tough players understand tough times don’t last, but tough people do. As cliché as that may sound, you will never find a mentally-tough player making an excuse for anything that happens to or around them. They know excuses, no matter how “good” an explanation or justification, are a waste of time and words. That energy is better spent trying to enhance what is going on around them.
READ MORE: WHY EXCUSES ARE SO BAD
3. Be Unruffleable
Imagine yourself working out in a hot gym in the middle of the summer with a coach who makes Bobby Knight look like fabric softener. How would you handle that situation? Could you persevere and find a way to get better or would you give in to the circumstances? Being unruffleable means being unbothered by the things you cannot control. This applies both on and off the court.
4. Be a Problem Solver
As athletes, you will be presented with problems in practice, in games and in life. The goal is to not only identify the problem but to become the type of person who can create and implement simple solutions for not so simple situations. To become a problem solver, you must learn to anticipate—see the problem develop before it even happens. Anticipation is such an important skills because it affords you time. To some, it will look like you came up with a brilliant solution on the spot, but really you were just thinking ahead and had given yourself TIME to see the problems from all angles and answer the questions each angle presented. Mentally-tough athletes don’t run from problems, they welcome them.
5. Seek Coaching
Here is a simple rule of thumb for athletes who claim to be or want to be mentally tough: you should need the least coaching, but seek it the most. Being coached is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of maturity and growth. All mentally-tough athletes know in order to get ahead of the competition, they need to adopt a growth mindset. It is this kind of thinking that allows them to turn losses and mistakes into learnings. The best way to adopt a growth mindset is to be curious, ask questions and do new things. Be like a detective with a magnifying glass trying to seek out your improvement.
THINK THE GAME
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Just like shooting, passing or dribbling, mental toughness is a skill that needs to be worked on daily if you want it to improve. Your pathway to success in mental toughness will be similar to any of the aforementioned skills. You will start off slow, you will stumble, you will grow frustrated, and you may feel like you’re not making any progress. KEEP GOING! Perseverance is the essence of mental toughness. Embrace limits, eliminate the excuses, show off your unruffle-ability, be the solution, and chase improvement. The end result is worth the journey.
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PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.