If you want to score points you have got to be mentally sound. To be mentally sound means a lot of things. It means you are confident, it means you are smart and it means you are intense. In this article I’ll discuss the importance of each of these and how each of them have a direct impact on how many points you’ll put up on a regular basis. Players that are described as having the “it” factor are mentally sound. They possess each of these mental attributes and it is the main reason for their success.
For a lot of players this is a tough one. Let’s face it, with all the attention the game of basketball gets it’s understandable for players to stress out about their performance on the court. It’s perfectly healthy to be nervous but if you find that you consistently play very well on the playground or in practice but perform very poorly during games, you’ve got a problem. I hate to say it but without confidence you’re a liability to your team. You have got to believe in yourself and play with no hesitation.
Coaches don’t care if you take a good shot with confidence and miss it, what they hate to see is a player with good skills shoot with hesitation. If you struggle with confidence know that you can overcome it. Continue to practice but also be realistic with your thoughts. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you miss a shot during a game? Maybe this quote from the greatest player to ever play the game will help you be more practical…
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is precisely why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan
You’re going to miss shots, it’s part of the game, don’t let negative thoughts dominate your mind. Go into every game knowing that hit or miss you are going to play with confidence. If you can do this I guarantee you that you’ll be averaging more points in no time.
Do you have to have a high IQ and get good grades to be a good scorer? No – of course not. But you do have to use the brain cells you were born with and be smart about how you approach the game on and off the court. Let’s say you play the center position and your coach makes it very clear to you that he wants all of the shots you take to be within 10 feet of the basket. During a game you find yourself wide open at the 3 point line with the ball in your hands.
You decide what the heck and launch up a brick that comes off the basket real hard and produces a fast break for the other team. What’s likely to happen is your coach will take you out of the game to discipline you. If your normal rotation was to come out of the game just before half-time and this occurs right as the second quarter begins, you’ve just cut your playing time dramatically. Not very smart – all it takes is a few decisions like this to make your scoring average go way down. You can’t score points if you’re not in the game.
Players that know how to score are students of the game. They take it serious and cherish any opportunity they have to study their opponents and evaluate their performances. A smart player is focused and disciplined on game day. They take time to study who will be guarding them that day and they formulate a strategy on how to get open shots against the defense the opposing team uses. An un-wise player might mess around on game day and waste their time joking around in the locker room.
The bottom line is you’re faced with simple decisions every day and what you do with those decisions has a lot to do with how good of a scorer you’ll be. The little things add up and end up having a big impact. Don’t get me wrong, some players can still be great scorers at the Jr. High and High School level without making smart decisions but those are the players I truly feel sorry for. I feel sorry for them because they will get in the habit thinking they don’t have to be smart to be good and when they try to get beyond the High School level they will hit a brick wall and have no idea what happened. To play at the elite levels you have to be smart.
To score a lot of points you have to be aggressive. I have seen a lot of players in my day that are great shooters and end up scoring a few quick points but once the defense becomes aware of them they disappear and never score again. Sometimes this is because they don’t know how to create their own shot but in most cases it’s because they are soft. They don’t care enough to get aggressive and stretch themselves. If you want to known as a great scorer you have to be intense.
When the defense steps it up a notch you have to find another gear and match their intensity. If you find yourself not bothered very much by losing or shying away from aggressive, in your face type basketball it’s probably time to evaluate where you stand. Like I hinted at earlier, any average player can knock down open shots but only those that are aggressive and intense can score when the defense tightens.