Mentally tough players know what it takes to succeed and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the results they’re after. If you want to be successful in basketball or in life for that matter, it’s going to take a lot of work. Success can be defined in so many different ways, and ultimately you’ll have to define what it is for you. If you’ve never made an off handed layup then once you have that down, that could be a success. But does that make you successful? It could if that’s the extent of your ambition, but if you’re reading this article, I doubt that’s as far as you want to go. How we’ll define success is that you maximize your own potential, work hard every single day, and reach the level of the sport that you desire (High School Varsity, College, Pros… etc).

    If you’re ambitious enough to say that you want to play professionally, your actions better match the words that are coming out of your mouth. It’s one thing to say it, and it’s a whole other thing to actualize it. Once you have your definition of success and what you want to get out of the game of basketball, you then need to determine what you’re willing to give. And really what you’re willing to give up. With a clear definition of success, you then begin to take action towards becoming successful. However, what always seems to happen to those that come up short is they never develop their mindset and mental toughness. To withstand the naysayers, the self doubt, the pain, the sacrifices, the late nights and early mornings, you have to be mentally tough and develop the habit of optimistic thinking. Thoughts become your beliefs, so if you start holding onto thoughts that empower you and make you work harder, you’re probably going to take the right action.

    When you begin to think the right thoughts, you’ll begin to take a ton of action and because it’s the right action, you’ll see tremendous results. The thought I often think when I’m training, doing a shoot around, or during the game is this… “I make every shot I take.” It sounds absurd because to make every shot you take over your lifetime is highly unlikely, but what are you telling the rest of your body? You just raised your own standard and now you’ve got to go to work. You now aren’t just shooting to shoot but you actually believe every shot is going in. People may laugh at you, but eventually they’ll be praising you when you go for 40 points on 12 shots. Can you imagine how much more fun your training will be? You don’t even notice when you miss because you’re focused on the next shot and you start believing every shot of yours is going in.

    Another thought I often think is “I’m unguardable.” Imagine how you begin to train, watch film, study opponents, play in a game, with this thought running through your head on repeat. You show up different, you’re confidence is different, you’re a better player because of it. If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking I’ve lost it and this is ridiculous and total bullshit. Optimistic thinking? Is he for real? Yes, this is as real as it gets. How do you expect to be great if you don’t believe in yourself? You may be one of the few that everyone tells you you’re gonna be great, but please believe that is not the norm. If you don’t cheer for yourself, who will? No one is coming to make your dreams come true. They’re your dreams, your goals, so cheer yourself on and get mentally tough.

    In order to get the most out of optimistic thinking and thinking empowering thoughts, your music selection can be a way to speed up your results. You know how a song gets stuck in your head? Use this to your advantage by getting an uplifting and motivating song stuck in your head. A few that I enjoy are Moment of Clarity by Jay-Z, Autograph by J. Cole, and H.A.M by Jay-Z and Kanye. Find songs that work for you and think the thoughts and apply it to your game. You don’t ever have to say these thoughts out loud either, but think of some empowering thoughts that fire you up and cause you to go extra hard in everything you do.

    In order to take the right actions, you’ve got to be thinking the right thoughts. The more repetitive the right thoughts, the more you’ll begin to rewire your brain to believe it. Don’t get me wrong, you do need self-awareness, and sometimes people just aren’t good basketball players… to start. Remember how we define success? If you’re dialed in on optimistic thinking, you’re going to approach all aspects of your training in a better way, and you’ll be maximizing your potential.

Stay Relentless. Play the Optimum Way.

Article by Brandon Cochran

Co-Founder Optimum Basketball