As a player or basketball coach we would all agree that positive thinking and having confidence in ones self is important to be successful. We would also all agree that to build confidence in ones abilities you need to spend time physically practicing what you want to be good at. However a really big 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, along with practicing that same skill is going to allow you to improve in ways you never thought you could before.
Recently I found out about a guy named 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 being the teams 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 get in contact with 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 be able to correct a players mistakes the right way?
Josh: It is extremely important if they want to be a transformational figure in their athletes 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, ie "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, then your self talk is detracting from your performance
This article is not saying that you should never workout and only use positive visualization, but 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 waist 20 minutes a day thinking about basketball in your head. You probably waist more then triple that much time on Facebook each day.
Train to be Clutch (Josh's Website)