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3 Keys to Mental Toughness

Updated: May 6

What does it mean to be mentally tough? Coaches and Players at various levels of basketball talk about the importance of mental toughness.

In his book Sport Psychology From Theory to Practice by Mark H. Anshel Mental Toughness Is described as the ability to ignore elements of interference during competition.


I define Mental Toughness as:

Maintaining a positive mindset when faced with challenges and adopting an attitude of perseverance to push through the difficult times on the basketball court when it feels like nothing is going right.

In those difficult and challenging times Using Positive Self Talk. Being Confident in one’s ability and Being Comfortable performing the basketball Skills learned can help the athlete overcome obstacles and to succeed.

Positive Self-Talk;


There will be days when the basketball does not go in the hoop no matter how you’re your shooting mechanics. Or you have trouble executing a ball handling drill or you feel like you cannot guard a wet paper bag.

Sometimes you just have a bad day on the court. In those times talk yourself up! Use positive words that encourage you. Such as, “I got this or the next shot is going in.” Use Positive Self-Talk to keep you in the right frame of mind. To keep you in the Present moment and to remind yourself of who you are and what you are capable of doing. Do not let self-doubt creep into your mind. Always, encourage yourself.

There will be days you will lose to an opponent who was better on that day. Recognize and applaud your opponent for their skill. But in no way allow that to diminish you and your skills. Use positive self-talk to focus on your strengths.

Be Self Confident:


Being confident comes from knowing YOU HAVE PUT IN THE WORK and you believe in your ability to succeed. The hours you put in the gym, in your backyard or at your neighborhood basketball court Developing your skills, Conditioning your body, have helped you become a good basketball player.


No matter the situation, Believe in Your Ability! Judging yourself by hanging your head, getting angry or using negative language does NOT BRING ABOUT CORRECTION. Let me repeat that. It DOES NOT BRING ABOUT CORRECTION. It only keeps YOUR focus and MENTAL ENERGY on THAT MISTAKE and IN THAT MOMENT!

A way to make the correction is to remove the emotion of what is happening and determine why it is happening. For example instead of focusing on getting beat on defense. Ask yourself:

Am I in the correct defensive stance?

Am I watching the hips of my opponent to know what direction they will go?

Am I communicating/talking with my teammates?

Once you have figured out why you are getting beat on defense be confident in your ability to make the correct adjustments and to be able to guard your opponent!

To be clear, you are confident because you have put in the work and you know you have the Ability to be successful. What am I saying here? If you have not put in the work it’s difficult to be successful.

Be Comfortable/Relaxed:


Be comfortable in the skills you are performing and know that you can execute them.

Be comfortable handling the basketball.

Be comfortable at the free throw line.

Be comfortable catching a pass.

Be comfortable making a layup.

Be comfortable playing defense.

Be comfortable executing the game plan.

When you have done the work and put in the time you know what you can do. Mental Toughness means reminding yourself of what you are capable of doing and that there is no self-doubt Or loss of faith in your ability to succeed Visualize success not failure.

Call To Action:


Today, I want you to create language you will use as positive self-talk that will encourage you to push through when faced with challenges on the basketball court.

Write it down on a piece paper and carry it in your pocket or type it into your phone, make it your screen shot or whatever is within reach so that you see it every day and memorize it.



In conclusion 3 Keys to Mental Toughness are:

Positive Self Talk.

Being Self Confident.

Being Comfortable/Relaxed in Your Ability to Perform the basketball skills you have learned.

I hope this information has been beneficial. Please join me for the next discussion of Basics & Basketball, LLC where athletes get smarter.©


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