Developing Confidence with the Basketball
Recently, I asked what your weakness was, and how you would make it a strength. I got a good amount of responses back not about how to jump higher, not about how to make every shot, not about how to make the NBA… But what to do when you get the ball.
To paraphrase a response, “When I get the ball, I get scared that I will make a mistake. I don’t want to take a bad shot or turn the ball over, and let my team down. Can you help me with that?”
To answer that question, I must say that I can and I can’t. Have you ever heard the saying, “You can show a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?” That’s what this situation is.
Growing up, even when I was in college at the Division 1 level, when I got the ball sometimes, I got scared as well. These were high-pressure situations where if you made one mistake, you were straddling the fence. If you made 2 mistakes, you were out of the game, possibly for the rest of the game. To be honest, sometimes in these circumstances, I wouldn’t even want to touch the ball, or when I got the ball I would immediately pass it, for fear of making a bad mistake.
In order to get over your fear, you must face it head on. What are you scared of? Missing the shot? Not playing? Not knowing what to do with the ball? Recognize what the fear is. Now, realize what your strength is. Are you a shooter? If so, when you get the ball and shoot, you shouldn’t feel scared. Are you a point guard and scared of getting the ball stripped? Work on your ball handling a little more, and focus on making smart decisions.
I say I can help you and I can’t because I can tell you what to do, but you have to actually put it into play. Trust that you are a great player. Basketball is simple. When you get the open shot, shoot. If you get trapped with defenders, pass the ball. If you have an opening, drive to the hoop. You know how to play the game, now you must execute. Trust in yourself to make the right decision in the circumstance, whatever it may be. And if you make a mistake, learn from it and don’t make the same mistake next time.
You’ve got two options: One, is to keep passing the ball, never making a mistake, but never doing anything of meaning, either. Always being the mediocre player who maybe gets a few points per game. The second option is to shoot when you’re open, having confidence when you get the ball, and taking it aggressive to the rim. Maybe you will make mistakes here and there, but your coaches and teammates will know you are working your butt off trying to produce. They will trust you with the ball to make plays, and that’s where your confidence will develop.
The great thing about basketball is that there is always a “next play” and “another game”. These are the opportunities we have to prove to ourselves how good we actually are.