1. Stick to the performance rituals, both before and during competition.
Load your players with performance rituals. It keeps their minds from wandering.
2. Your players need to set limits on themselves and other people on game days. It sounds simple, but athletes are fun to be around so there are distractions. Some kids need a lot of space before competing. Others like people around them.
3. Eye control. Athletes need to keep their eyes on the field. tennis players either look at the ground or the racket. Basketball players need to keep their eyes on the court. If you have a player looking into the audience, that player is losing his focus. The mind follows the eyes.
4. Emotional control. Nothing is going to blow up concentration more than losing emotional control. Just as the mind follows the yes, the emotions follow breathing. If someone is upset, their breathing is shallow. To regain emotional control, take slow, deep breaths, lower the breathing rate. That’s a good thing to teach someone who loses his temper.
5. Make use of visualization during competition.
6. Stay in the present moment. A fun question to ask your players at the beginning of the season, “What’s the most important play in basketball?” The most important play in basketball is the one you are doing. Our tendency as human beings is to not be in the present. We are either in the past of worrying about the future. And those projections into the future are always negative. The kid stands at the foul line and is thinking what will happen if I miss the shot? All these projections into the future are 90% negative and 90% untrue but it really affects performance. Emphasize to your kids, keep your minds in the present. The action is in the present.
By Dr. James Jarvis