Many athletes train very hard which of course is a good thing. However, despite the thousands of hours of repetitive moves – with the aim of getting continually better – many still fail to “nail the shot”, especially when under pressure. If this is you, read on!
There is no doubt that their body has mastered the move thanks to all the technique learning and repetition. So why are they still failing to reach high scores?
The part that is often somewhat overlooked is the mental side. Their training is typically physically and technically strong however very often mental development is insufficient.
Great champions of course have this covered. Think of Tiger Woods taking a golf shot: he has long ago mastered the technique as have his competitors. What gave him the edge was of course his mind.
I put this to test with some kids playing basketball at a nearby basketball ground.
I was there on my own enjoying playing around with the ball and on the other end of the ground was a group of 4 kids practicing shots at the basket. Could giving them some mental focus guidance make an immediate difference? I could tell that their rate of success at getting the ball through the basket was not great although I could also tell that they were not novices. They had technical skill and were very motivated. I approached them and asked them how they were getting on. Then I told them I was a coach and asked if they were interested in dramatically improving their score in just 20 minutes, just for fun, to which they answered a very enthusiastic yes!
Experiment on! I was excited.
They told me they played basketball regularly and loved the game. I asked them each to take their 10 best shots at the basket and we would count how many went in. They took their shots. Many hit the ring but did not go in. Some almost went in but spun back out. And others missed altogether. After they all took their 10 shots we did the math: their group average was 4 out of 10 balls in the net.
So what was missing in their game?
Simple: FOCUS and mind power.
They were over relying on their technique under-relying on their mind. So what did I teach them?
Here it is:
- Stance: lower your gravity by breathing in the belly, not the chest. Relax shoulders and knees
- Calm and centre the mind by now slowing down the breathing: this done well creates a state of “dynamic tranquillity” perfect for enhanced concentration and focus.
- Gather environmental and other key information (ie: wind, weight of ball, etc)
- Plan the shot through actively visualising (with eyes closed) the trajectory of the ball from throwing it to it going all the way through the hoop, and going fully through the net, that it cannot come back up.
- Maximise the trajectory through engaging other senses too: “hear” the ball go through the net, “feel” it slicing through the air and through the net.
- Clear the mind through focusing on your breathing
- Feel your feet gripping the ground
- Take the shot using the appropriate technique you have mastered/learned with full expectation of the ball following the trajectory you mapped out
- Breathe out as you take the shot (or figure out what best works for you; breathe out just before or just after – I breathe out just before)
So what was the result? In 20 minutes they took their average combined score form 4/10 to 8/10. Granted they were not pro players however their technical skills were already pretty good. They had practiced a lot. They were more than pleased!
Give it a go. This can be used for most sports where precision shooting is required.
Want to get real good at this in your sport? Drop me a line.