Recently we've had some emails come in regarding some questions regarding the proper mental approach for being successful in basketball. This isn't an easy topic to handle but I thought it would give it a try. Let me preface by saying that this works for me and may not work for everyone but I have ideas that anyone can use.
I believe firmly that there are two types of people out there. One, a person that is motivated by positive feedback and second, a person that is motivated by negative feedback. Let me explain.
If you are the type of person that thrives under positive situations then make sure that you have explained this to your coach. I know it sounds funny but I've had some great success with players who have these discussions with their coaches and they've worked. A person motivated by positives likes to be told what they are doing right. They like when the coach pulls them aside and pats their back and tells them nice job. They hate to be singled out in front of the team especially and when yelled at they tend to want to quit or just curl up in a ball and disappear. These are also the players, who when yelled at, tend to play scared and afraid to make a mistake. After all, they don't want to be yelled at and they don't want to be taken out of the game.
If you are the type that thrives under negative situations you will be just fine with any coach. By the way, people ask me why someone would respond to this type of coaching and it all boils down to personality. This type of player doesn't need positive reinforcement. When they are told they are doing something wrong they work extra hard to correct it.
When they are told someone is performing better than they are they respond by working harder or smarter to prove them wrong. When a coach gets in their face and questions them in front of the group they will simply attempt to correct the behavior, not by avoiding the situation but by proving to the coach that they can be trusted.
I grew up in a family of 4 boys and I am the only one that responded well to negative actions. If I was told I was horrible I would work harder. When I was told I would be too small to sign with a Division I school, it made me work harder. I had that fight. I want to stress that this didn't make me a better player only that I knew early on how I was motivated. This didn't work with my other brothers in basketball.
They would rather not play than go through that. That's why I stress communication very much with coaches. They understand this behavior but sometimes they just need to be talked to about it. It doesn't mean they will change right away but you should notice a difference in how you are treated. Remember, they want you to play your best because it helps them out also.
Mentally this makes a big difference in how people play the game of basketball. Something has to drive you to be better. For me it was a free education. For some it is to be better in youth basketball or recreation league. The point is, we all need something that we are shooting for, something that makes us want to improve, something that gets us up off the couch and in a gym where we belong.
What I've covered in this article is something that I use in my life as well. From businesses that I've owned I've learned the same principles apply to employees. I needed to learn how they were motivated. Some were motivated by money, some liked the pat on the back and some liked public recognition.
The key is to really learn what that is for us and to approach the game knowing what that is. I would challenge each of you to really sit down and decide why you play. Is it for the love? Do you just enjoy playing? Do you want to impress the ladies? Whatever it is, sit down and put some thought into it and decide what you want to do with basketball and go get it. Surround yourself with people who will push you if you need it or people who will tell you how great you are if you need that.