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Basketball Shooting Tips: How to Develop the "Right" Mental Attitude and Improve Your Shooting

Sep 14, 2008
The mental aspects of shooting are critically important. A good mental attitude and confidence can literally increase your shooting percentage by 20%!

It's all about getting yourself in the right state of mind...

To get yourself in the "mental zone", you should master three key areas. Study and apply the following aspects and you'll be on your way:

1) Don't Think When Shooting the Basketball.

You'll hear this from us many times because it's important...

"Thinking about your shot is for practice, NOT for games!"

In fact, you should only think during certain parts of your practice. It's ok to think during a form shooting session or when learning a new skill, but once you start developing rhythm and get further into practice, don't think!

The absolute WORST THING you can do during a game is to start thinking about the mechanics of your shot. Train yourself to think about other things or nothing at all.

Thinking about your shot during a game does NO good! You're going to miss a few. So what!

Don't think, just shoot the damn ball!!!

If you adopt this mentality, your shooting percentage will go UP.
You might want to come up with your own method to stop thinking during games. Often times, simply being aware of the common problem can tremendously help players.

But if you want a technique to eliminate thinking, you can also try this little trick...

Before each game, practice, and shooting session, tell yourself that you don't care if you make any baskets. Say it out loud or in your head several times.

THEN, when you go to shoot (right as you're catching the ball), say something to yourself like, "Nice shot. I can do better." In other words, try not to care if it goes in or not.

This simple little trick helps you to relax into the process and not think about the result. Using this technique will be enough to break you out of mini slumps and restore your confidence.

2) Eliminate the Fear of Failure.

Guess what?

The best NBA shooters miss more than half of the time!!

That's right; they FAIL more than they SUCCEED.

Shooting is an activity of failure.

Guess what else?

Fear of failure can cause you to miss more shots than you can imagine. Think about this for a moment...

Even the smallest fear of missing causes anxiety. Anxiety causes tense muscles and a clouded mind. Tense muscles lead to missed shots.

You can't worry about missing. It's going to happen. Accept the fact that you're going to miss shots in every game that you play. If you can accept this, you will become a better player.

Here are a few tactics and basketball shooting tips to help you eliminate the fear of missing. It's not that hard to do once you understand these concepts:

- Remind yourself that the greatest shooters of all time have missed about HALF of the shots that they've taken.

- Develop an understanding of what a good shot is for your range, ability, and specific game situations. Take good shots only.

- Let the coach coach. It's up to the coach to take you out of a game or to tell you to stop shooting. Meanwhile, keep taking those good shots.

- Before every game, tell yourself that you're more than just a shooter. You can help your team by rebounding, playing defense, and passing the ball. So even if your shot doesn't go in all the time, it's OK. You can contribute in other ways. By keeping these realities in mind, you reduce the pressure on your shot.

- Don't get upset and throw fits when you miss. Instead of muttering something negative after a miss, be calmly aware of exactly why the shot missed. If you've practiced enough and have solid fundamentals, you will subconsciously realize what you need to correct on your next shot.

- A more direct and active approach is to add a corrective phrase that reinforces the proper fundamental that was lacking in the missed shot. Do this at practice. In games, you want to be shooting without extra thinking or stress.

3) Clear your mind and get in the zone.

Have you ever been in the zone?

Do you remember what it was like?

We'll bet you a hundred bucks that the last time you were in "the zone", you were completely relaxed and you weren't thinking. It probably happened by complete accident.

Well, getting in the zone doesn't always have to be an accident. You can clear your mind to get there on a consistent basis.

Here's how:

Make an effort to take care of issues away from basketball in order to clear your mind of unnecessary clutter.

If you agreed to clean the floor for your mother, clean the floor and get it over with. Take care of any prior commitments that you've made.

Cleaning up your life OFF the court will certainly help your mental attitude ON the court.

Another tip to clear the "mind clutter" that happens away from the court is to make lists. Keep an up-to-date list of all the things that you need to do. You might have a "home to-do list", "basketball to-do list", and "school/work to-do list". The key is to get your list on paper or on the computer where you can easily reference it.

These to-do lists will ease your mind because you'll subconsciously know that you have everything written down, so you won't forget. This allows you to de-clutter your mind with all these things you are supposed to remember.

Get in the Alpha state.

Have you ever heard of the Alpha state and how much better the mind works in this relaxed condition? Your mind is actually much more powerful in a tranquil state. Just by teaching your mind to relax, you can dramatically improve your shooting percentage!!

When your mind is truly relaxed and in the Alpha state, you have an AMAZING clarity and focus. Your mind is unbelievably sharp and powerful.

That's why the game seems to be in slow motion and you can shoot with amazing accuracy.

So how do you get in the Alpha state?

Stop thinking and worrying about whether or not you'll miss your shot.

There are many other ways to get in a relaxed state, but find out what works best for YOU.

A few good ways to get in the relaxed, Alpha state include:

- Meditation. Yes, even Kobe Bryant meditates before games. Meditation is simply a process of relaxed breathing and clearing you mind. Start by sitting in a comfortable position, and then take a series of slow, deep breaths-- in through your nose and out through your mouth. Nice and slow. Follow your breath. Focus your mind on the air going in and out of your body. Don't think about anything else. Continue this relaxed breathing for 3-20 minutes. Often times, 5 or 10 minutes is plenty, but don't limit yourself. Once you quiet your mind, you should be able to feel and hear your own heart beating. Once you do, you know that you are completely relaxed.

- Listening to the "right" kind of music. Even better, meditate and listen to music at the same time. Music has the ability to make people angry, happy, sad, and even relaxed by affecting an individual's rhythmic energy. It may sound crazy, but it's true. Perhaps you listen to rap or rock before games. That may be best for you, but try some classical music, or search the Internet for relaxing music. You'll find all kinds of peaceful tunes to help you get to a very peaceful and focused state of mind.

- Yoga. Most of you will have trouble doing yoga before games, but this tactic is still worth mentioning. Consider practicing yoga a few times each week. It's good for the mind and body as a whole and combining it with relaxing music can get you in "the zone".

Like we mentioned before, you need to figure out which methods work for you. There's no right or wrong way. The key is having the knowledge.

With just a little effort, it's really not that difficult to dramatically improve your relaxation, focus and basketball shooting percentage at all!
About the Author
Jeff Haefner is the owner of www.breakthroughbasketball.com For more basketball shooting tips, drills, and workouts, go to: www.breakthroughbasketball.com/pr/btshooting.html
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