Unable to handle the pressure!
Many years ago when I was competing for the England U19 basketball team, I made a horrendous mistake that cost us a game.
The game was close and in the closing minutes they pressed us, forcing pressure on us in the back court. At the time I wasn’t a great ball handler, I was more a scorer and an elite defender.
I remember two players coming at me, forcing me to dribble backwards and in my panic I made a pass.
A poor pass!
The ball was intercepted and they went and scored.
The coach left me on for another play and the same thing happened!
I think we ended up losing by 4 and I remember blaming myself. I was 17 at the time and told myself that would never happen again.
Growing and improving
Putting myself under pressure in training gave me the ability to learn to handle the pressure and act differently. My peripheral vision increased, my ball handling skills had improved dramatically and I looked to put myself in those situations and learned to thrive in those so called pressure situations.
I went on to compete in the second tier of British basketball and was voted an All-Star, one of the 20 best players in the division.
Who helped me?
Coaches don’t always know what to do! They don’t always know what you’re thinking or feeling and often have their own agenda and try to fit you into their agenda. But every now and again a coach will share an insight that sparks something inside.
I improved because I found a spark and wanted to improve. My desire to improve was greater than my desire to stay the same or even let pressure swallow me up whole and spit me out. I created a drive to be the best I could be. I just needed a coach to believe in my talent and let me do my thing on the court
The ego is a barrier to improving
When a player or coach believes it’s their way or the highway, failure is just around the corner but a person willing to put their ego to one side and have an open mind to learning, great things can happen.
My England coach told me, if I was ever to improve I would have to learn how to improve my dribbling and I knew exactly what he was referring to. I didn’t need telling twice
Allow the mistake to drive you
We all make mistakes but some people take self-sabotaging actions after a mistake is made. They grab fatty, salty food, go for the high caffeine energy drinks and blame themselves trying to find the ‘why’ and lose sleep.
This leads to burnout and a drop in mental and physical health and ultimately losing the love for the game. Don’t let that happen to you!
Your mind is amazing when you give it a chance and understand you can control it so let me share this simple trick.
After a mistake, refocus your thoughts on what you can immediately do differently. Stay focused on the present. Keep your thoughts on the present and do what you do best. You can’t change the past so there is no real benefit of focusing your attention on it at this time.
If this blog has intrigued you or has raised a question in your mind, please comment and I will get back to you
Play with purpose