One of the biggest things holding players back from being the player they want to be is there confidence. Whether that is in a game, or your local rec pick up games.
Nothing will Kill a players ability to perform, and show off there skills, than a lack of confidence.
In this article I will be giving simple tricks and tips you can implement, to improve your confidence, when it comes to basketball, so you can be the best player you can be.
1. Work Ethic
It is going to be really hard to be confident in your game and skills, if you have never practiced those skills.
Having a good work ethic and pushing yourself, will gain you confidence, because it shows yourself, that you are capable, and have done it before.
A big reason why guys like Micheal Jordan or Kobe Bryant had so much confidence, is because they have done it time and time again, and put the necessary reps in to be a master at there craft and skill.
This does not just mean practice, this could be games, and scrimmages as well. The basic point is that time and effort will make you better at any en devour you set out to do. And being better at a skill will only increase your mental state and confidence of performing that skill.
Pro Tip: One great way of increasing your confidence when it comes to work ethic, is practicing at game speed, and practicing at the same pace that you play.
I am not saying all your practice should be like that, but by practicing game speed ,you give yourself the knowledge and confidence, that you can perform at the speed and pace that will be required in upcoming games.
For more information on how much you should train as a basketball player click here.
2. Playing against the right competition
Think about it like this, if your an expert player, and you play against someone who just started playing, even if you are beating him that is not going to gain you any confidence moving forward.
Confidence is about believing in yourself, and proving your abilities when you step up and play. That is why playing against the right competition is important. That is why I always recommend to play against some who is just as good as you if not a tiny bit better.
This can improve your confidence as a player, because it gives you the best chance for improving as an athlete, and it allows you to have close competitive drills and games. Having good competition that is still in reach will allow you to get the best out of yourself.
Remember there is a balance to this, if you are much better than your training partner of competition, then you will not grow, but if you are much worse, it will seem discouraging and not very productive.
Pro Tip: If you do not have access to competition that is near your level, you can put handicaps on your drills and games. For example if your much taller than your competitor, then in practice you can work on your dribbling or shooting, and other skills that do not involve your height.
3. Basing your game of You instead of others
Remember you can only be the best version of you that you can be. A reason I stress this so much is because if you find yourself comparing yourself to everyone around you, then that can get really discouraging as a player, and cause you to lose your belief and self confidence as a player.
Some players might have had more experience then you, or they were naturally gifted at basketball. But by only comparing yourself to you, you gain confidence because you can see that your progressing as a player.
Confidence is something that comes from you and not others, just be the best player that you can be and you will have that real confidence and self esteem. That you can only get from yourself.
4. Tracking Your Progress
This goes into my point above about comparing yourself to you. There is almost no better feeling in the world than seeing yourself progress and get better at a skill.
By getting better at something this will increase your confidence because it shows you are going in the right direction, and that your hard work is paying off.
But so many players, get clouded up with thoughts and judgments that they cannot see how much better they have gotten at basketball.
So that is why I think it is important to track your progress, and see what things you have gotten better at in the last year, or months leading up to the player you are now.
How To Track Your Progress- There are a bunch of ways you can do this as a player, and one of my favorite ways is by simply keeping track of your shooting percentages in a given drill.
For example lets say you are just starting out and your free throw percentage is 40%, by writing this down you can then track your free throws and see if you can get those numbers up to 50- or 60%.
This can build your confidence just by the fact that you are improving, and knowing that you can get better as a player.
Basically when tracking your progress, just do what ever you need to do, to remember how much better you are now then you were in your past.
5. Understanding Your Fear
You have to understand as a basketball player, that your lack of self confidence, is not just a lack in belief, but it usually stems in either your fear of failure, or what could go wrong, and your anxiety of approval.
See when breaking down all this you might be thinking " I am not afraid, Or you might say " I dont care what people think."
Now while this fear might not seem relevant to you consciously, this could be playing a role in your game, below the surface or subconsciously, otherwise you would not be having these mental problems involving your confidence.
Simple Fixes- I always recommend players, to be honest with themselves, it is not unnatural or weird to have some of these thoughts or fears. But by pushing it down and, denying it, you can just make the problem worse and worse.
That it why you should always be your own best friend when you get in these situations. Little things like reminding yourself that you put in the work already and your a capable player out there. This Can go a long way in improving your performance and getting over those fears, and anxiety that you may have.
Another thing to note when understanding fear, is that fear and anxiety is anticipation of the future, based of past events.
A reason I bring that up when trying to understand your fear is because you can then work on letting things go. See confidence can get destroyed of one bad play, or a couple missed shots in a row.
By letting things go you can then start to make rational decisions instead or fearful decisions. Which in turn will boost your confidence and make you a better player as a whole.
Check out the video below where they accurately describe the fear of approval and what you can do to understand this and transcend these negative emotions.
6. Break The Ice
Lets say you are just starting the game, and you have all those nerves and self doubt running through your head.
Well one of the best things you can do to get in the flow of the game, is to do something aggressive right away.
This can be something as simple as, driving to the hoop the moment you get the ball, or pressuring up defense.
This can also help you get off that rust and allow you to start games better, and put you in a more aggressive flow state, instead of a passive fear state.
Now I am not saying to disregard your role on the team, or do something your coach tells you to do. But whatever it is make sure when you start the game to do something aggressive.
By doing this you break off the ice and rust and in turn this will give you the confidence the rest of the game moving forward.
Below is a great video explaining the benefits of this technique and strategy, when it comes to confidence, especially in game scenarios.
7. Control What You Can Control
This is a tip that can put things into perspective, and allow you to put less pressure on yourself.
Think about it, in basketball there are simply things we cannot control. Sometimes you might be missing shots, you might be a little hurt, or the ref is not calling the game the way you would like.
But by doing things like playing hard, playing good defense, and being a good teammate, allows you to be the best player you can be in that particular game.
So in turn there really in no pressure, if you do only the things that you can control, and base your performance of that, then your confidence will rise.
Because at the end of the day, you did what you needed to do to play to the best of your abilities.
8. Have Fun
Always remember the reason you decided to play basketball. We play because we love the game.
I think a big reason so many players struggle in game situations with there confidence is because they forget this simple truth.
Think about it, its rare to see a player struggle with confidence when there playing with there friends or family, but that is simply because they are playing for the love of the game and not to show off or prove anything.
While I do know some games can be intense, and you might be trying to go somewhere with your basketball, but by having fun when playing basketball, this will actually make you play better and have more confidence in the process.
9. White Knuckle It
Lets say you try all the tips above, and you just seem to not be able to break your fears, and confidence issues.
Well one of the only things you can do is push through in any way possible. This could mean only playing good defense, or being a supporter on the bench.
Whatever it is, surprisingly by pushing thorough a bad situation like this, it can actually help your confidence, because it shows you that you can get through any situation, and adversity, which can be key ingredients to building confidence in basketball.
10. Be Alone
If you find yourself lacking in confidence in basketball, then being alone can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
By being alone you can block out all the noise and really discover, and contemplate, what you need to do to play your best and build your confidence. Remember sometimes you are your own best teacher.
You know yourself better than anyone, and by quieting your surroundings, and thoughts this can lead to insight that will help you gain more self believe and confidence when it comes to basketball.
11. Do It For You
Self doubt and lack of confidence can sometimes be a result of lack of self worth, or not thinking i'm good enough or even deserve it.
One simple technique is to remind yourself of all the hard work you put into this game, and understanding why you do this.
You put to much work and dedication into this game to waste it, you just need to remember that. and your confidence will rise, or this will give you the will power to breakthrough that fear and doubt.
12. Understanding Your Game
This comes down to knowing who you are as a person or player.
There are certain things that make people feel less confident and certain things that make players feel great going into games. It is important to understand these things as a person or as a player
This can be as simple as knowing what moves and shots are your go tos, and putting that into practice in games. It can also be as simple as playing your favorite song before game time.
Whatever this might be, notice and experiment with yourself and see what went right or wrong in your mindset, when it came to confidence, and work to fix that coming into games or whatever basketball situation you find yourself in.
13. See things for what they are
A lot of confidence issues comes from projecting your past failures to where you are right now, and letting that effect you.
I am not saying you should never look to the past, but instead of dwelling or criticizing your past efforts, use that as an opportunity to learn and improve.
By seeing things for what they are you can then eliminate yourself from being to overly emotional and instead take a more balanced logical view of what you need to do.
By doing this you can then work on improving your confidence, because your coming from a better place mentally,
14. Self Talk
Like I said, your mind can wander off into some really dark places if you let it. By being aware of this ,you can notice this and change your thinking and mindset going into your next game.
This does not even have to just be wishful positive thinking, but by just not thinking negatively, and getting out of your own head, this will greatly improve your confidence and game as a whole.
The video above does a great job of explaining this truth.
Other Frequently asked questions
Question: I notice when I play basketball, my confidence lacks a lot because I am thinking a lot. Is there anything I can do to think less when playing basketball?
Answer: One simple technique I have noticed works if your a player over thinking, is doing a simple mindfulness exercise that you can even do in games, something I like to call fixity of focus.
The basics of it, is focusing on one thing no matter the circumstances. This could be your breath, or even a specific point on your body.
A reason I recommend this for players over thinking, because it allows them to get back into the moment and be a little more present, while also not allowing you to focus on your thoughts. Which can help if your thoughts are causing confidence issues.
Question: Is there anyway I can play more confident in basketball when it comes to how I play and my skills?
Answer: I would say this comes down to knowing your game, and doing what you like to do on the court.
For example if your a shooter, then take more shots, at the end of the day confidence comes down to you in basketball, only you know how you like to play. So my basic answer is, to do what you like most doing on the court, and doing it all the time.
Question: I just got benched as a player and it really is hurting my confidence. How do I not feel less confident, when all these circumstances are happening around me?
Answer: Like I said sometimes in basketball there are things that happen that you cannot control.
Confidence comes from you and only you. If your not playing well, try focusing on things you can decide like your effort, or the energy you give off to your teammates. While it is not the most fun answer in the world, this will make you a more confident player, and better player as a whole.
I hope this article helped, give you some useful tips and tricks, to improve your confidence in basketball. I'm curious, let me know what you all did to improve your confidence, and what you have seen work for you?
Thank you for reading and as always keeping hooping my friends.