Being nervous and anxious can be one of the most frustrating things in the game of basketball. It can cause you to underperform and not meet your full potential as a basketball player.
To stop getting nervous in basketball you need to have a high amount of practice and repetition, and also have ways and methods of calming the mind. These methods could include mindfulness, meditation, visualization, and even joking around with friends or teammates before games or other high-stress basketball situations.
That is why in this article I want to go more in-depth and give you some proven tools and methods you can use when those butterflies and nerves inevitably come up.
Understand The Difference Between Nervous And Anxious.
Being anxious is an emotion that mainly stems from the excitement of restlessness. Many players who feel anxious feel this way because they are excited and want to get on the court.
Whereas nervousness stems from fear or lack of confidence in your ability to perform or play well.
Why is this important
It is important to understand this about yourself because many players get these emotions mixed up. They might have very similar sensations or feelings but the root cause of what is causing these emotions can greatly differ.
So in order to better combat your nerves, It is important to see what might be causing the fear in the first place.
The goal of this is to try and move your mind from a fear state into higher states of playing the game like joy, and courage. And this is much harder to do if you do not know what the root cause of the problem is.
Why Fear Or Nerves Might Be Coming Up
Outcome mindset is when a player is focused on his individual stats and performance
This can bring up fear and nervousness because in a sense you are trying to control things that you cannot control.
How To Combat This
A great way to combat this is by trying to control things you do have complete control over. This will allow you to combat that outcome mindset and give yourself the power to do your best and be the best player you can be.
John Wooden was a major proponent of this, and in a book of his, he talked about how succeeding and winning are two different things.
Winning is the score at the end of the game. But succeeding is getting the most out of yourself. But trying to succeed instead of trying to win you then put the control and power back in your hands as a player.
Fear Of Failure
Fear of failure is when a player goes onto the court and doesn't do things they are capable of because they are fearful of messing up, missing a shot, getting embarrassed, or even turning the ball over.
How To Combat This
There are two main ways I have noticed to overcome this fear of failure.
One way is to notice that fear of failure comes up from the inner pride you might be having.
You might think that this fear stems from your lack of ability but more times than not it stems from you being afraid of putting yourself out there and making a mistake.
The second way to combat this is realizing that regret will leave a much more sour taste in your mouth than embarrassment. There can be almost nothing more painful to a player than not doing the best that they can do on the basketball court.
So go for it let everyone see all the hard work and practice you have done in the game of basketball.
This is something many players do not want to admit but a big cause of fear and nervousness can come from seeking the approval of others on the basketball court.
Think about it a big reason I believe most players shoot so much better by themselves in an empty gym than they do in front of people is because they are playing for themselves instead of others.
How To Combat This
The best way to combat this is to realize why you are even playing this game in the first place. Your playing for the enjoyment you get out of it.
Realize this in the game of basketball your always going to have outside noise and criticism no matter how well or even bad you are playing. But one thing you can always control is playing with passion and enjoyment of the game.
Fear Of Opponents
This is when you fear your opposition or how well you will be able to do against them.
I know this is a big fear for many young high school athletes playing in their first varsity game against older bigger opponents.
How To Combat This
Again I know I keep saying this over and over but the best way to go into a situation like this is to be as prepared as possible and controlling what you can control.
This starts way before the game even happens. By being prepared with your skills in the off-season, to even the sleep and things you eat before the game. Being feeling prepared is the best way to at the very least minimize your feelings of fear and pre-game jitters.
For more information on a great pregame routine check out the link here.
Techniques And Tips To Getting Less Nervous
Mindfulness is simply being aware of any thoughts, feelings, or emotions that might be coming up.
Its goal is to quiet the mind and help you get more in the moment as a player.
How To Do It
Mindfulness can take many different forms, but one great technique I give to players is to focus on the feelings in your body. Try not to label your feelings or focus on the thoughts but the actual physical sensations of the feelings themselves.
Pro Tip: What is so great about mindfulness is that you do not even have to sit down and go away from everything. You can do this as your walking around and even playing during the game.
Why You Should Do It
A big reason I feel like every athlete should use mindfulness (especially if they are feeling nervous or fearful) is so they can learn to disassociate from their thoughts and see that their thoughts do not control them.
2. Being Bold
Most nerves or fear come at the beginning of a game or situation. Being bold basically means getting yourself involved in the game by making a play.
How To Do It
- Driving to the basket the moment you get into the game
- Taking a shot
- Getting a rebound
- Playing good defense
Why You Should Do This
Being bold early in the game allows you to quickly face your fears and see that they are not so bad. It also gives you the ability to build confidence early on so you can perform your best for the rest of the game.
I have said this before already in this article but I think it is important to really emphasize this point.
Most fear or nerves come from you feeling unprepared or not confident in your abilities.
By feeling and knowing you're prepared you can go into a game with full-on confidence.
How To Be Prepared
-Have a routine
Having a routine is something you do before every game. This allows you to better prepare both mentally and physically for the situations ahead.
Sleep has a proven number of benefits both mentally and physically. To be your best on the court you need to make sure you're getting the proper amount of rest and recovery.
- Study up
Knowing your team's system and plays is a great way to prepare for the game and help ease your nerves because it gives you a better idea of what you need to do once your on the court.
Why Should I Prepare
By not preparing your basically giving yourself uncertainty which is a sure fire way to go into a game or situation unconfident, nervous, and fearful.
4. Support Your Team
Supporting your team does not only mean being loud and vocal on the bench. But also encouraging your teammates once you"re in the game.
Why You Should Support Your Team
Supporting your team is a great way to take attention away from yourself and your own individual worries and fears.
By shifting your focus on the team's success instead of your own you then also shift your energy to your team instead of your own. By doing this you will not have the time or mental energy to even think about yourself.
5. Have Fun
Sometimes the best remedy for fear or any negative feelings is a humor and having fun. By joking around and having fun before a game you shift your mindset from focusing on the positive to focusing on the enjoyment of the whole process.
How To Do It
Some Examples Include ....
- Listening to music
- talking with teammates
- joking with teammates
Micheal Jordan was even a proponent of doing this before a game
6. Having A Good Warm-Up
A good warm-up is a great way to build confidence because it allows you to feel comfortable with your skills before the game even starts.
How To Do It
A good warmup really depends on each player's individual preferences and circumstances, but one thing I really recommend players do is to attack the basket and take layups in warm-ups.
I recommend players to do this because by seeing the ball go into the hoop it is a good mental trick to make you more confident for when you shoot shots farther away with more range.
7. Put Things Into Perspective
A great mantra you can always say to yourself no matter how pressure-filled a situation might be is that it's still basketball at the end of the day.
Think about it, if you have done the task over and over again by yourself in a gym then it is still the same game even if there are a bunch of people watching.
By telling this to yourself you can look at your emotions from a more logical reasonable perspective, and hopefully, this can help overcome and ease your fears.
For a great video explaining this check out the video below
What I mean by practice is you have to put yourself in more situations that might bring up fear or nervousness. Like anything in life practice and experience will inevitably make you better at handling situations including your emotions.
How To Do This
- Play in competitive games like one on one
- Play in more basketball games like aau or club ball
- Play against better competetion
How Can Effort Help With Nerves?
Effort can help with nerves because of two main reasons. One reason is that by getting your body warmed up and filled with adrenalin your body will naturally shift from a passive state to more of an active state.
Second-way effort can help calm your nerves is because it allows you to control things you have control over. You have to realize a lot of fear and nerves come from things you have no power over.
By going into a game focusing on things you can control like effort and hustle you then put the power back in your hand instead of putting your energy in things you have no power or control over.
Repetition is something that happens long before the game even starts. Repetition involves having a substantial amount of practice before the events even occur.
By knowing you have lots of repetition and practice under your belt you can go into a game with the knowledge that you can do this and you are fully prepared for the challenges at hand.
As we know there can nothing more frustrating to a hooper than not playing your best due to nervousness or fear.
Please comment below on any questions you might have. Also, comment on what you do to calm and ease your nerves for basketball.
Thank you for reading and as always keep hooping my friends.