Positive Visualization in Basketball

As a basketball player or basketball coach, we would all agree that positive thinking and confidence in oneself are important to success. We would also all agree that to build confidence in one’s abilities, you need to practice what you want to be good at physically. However, a huge area that players and coaches don’t take advantage of is mental training and positive visualization in basketball.

A while ago, I watched a Pistol Pete shooting instructional video, and he said that when he visualized in his head shooting the basketball, the guy in his head never missed a shot. If arguably one of the best pure scorers ever to play the game used positive imagery to become a better player, I think it is worth a look.

Being able to positively visualize yourself doing a specific skill like shooting a basketball and practicing that same skill will allow you to improve in ways you never thought you could before.

I recently found out about Joshua Medcalf and what Josh does is he travels around the country and talks about positive visualization, positive affirmation, etc., in sports. He has also created different apps to help with learning how to master these positive thinking skills.

His story is pretty amazing from how he went from the last man on his soccer team at Duke University to be the team’s second-leading scorer by the end of the season. This was done simply by using positive visualization and becoming more confident in himself as a player.

I was fortunate to contact him and ask him a few questions about this topic (interview below). Here is a quick 7-minute video that you can view to get a better idea of how positive visualization works and why it is so important to take advantage of.



Joshua Medcalf Interview

Question # 1 How important is it for coaches to use positive affirmation with their players? Also, what are some good tips for coaches to correct a player’s mistakes the right way?

Josh: It is imperative if they want to be a transformational figure in their athlete’s lives. The studies on positivity show your positivity ratio must be over 3 to 1 to flourish. Coaches can focus on what players do well and only give positive instruction, i.e., “Do this” vs. “Don’t do this.”


Question # 2 What are some tricks to use during a game to get back on track if you have begun to think negatively and doubt yourself?

Josh: Focus on the next opportunity. You can’t do anything about the past. Use your self-talk in ways that you would with a little kid. If you wouldn’t coach a little kid the way you are talking to yourself, your self-talk is detracting from your performance.



Positive Visualization in Basketball Conclusion

This basketball article is not saying that you should never do basketball drills, lift weights, etc., and only use positive visualization. Still, it is saying that if you are only working out and not using positive visualization, then you are limiting yourself as a player. I have seen basketball players that were really skilled but never really made it, and it is because they didn’t have confidence in themselves.

If you look at Josh’s example and the transformation that his game made, it wasn’t doubling the time that he spent in the gym; it was his change of mindset. Commit to practicing positive self visualization and see where it takes you and what it does for your game. Worst case scenario, you waste 20 minutes a day thinking about basketball in your head. You probably waste more than triple that much time on social media each day.


Train to be Clutch (Josh’s Website)

Basketball Mental Training App


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