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Part 2- Invaluable Tips From the NBA's Leading Mental Skills Coach

November 5, 2017

2. Play Present

 

Once a player is able to focus on what's important now, his next goal is to play present. It sounds simple, but being present is one of the most difficult challenges an athlete can face.

 

"Instead of your goal being to win, your goal is to simply play present. That's the essence of everything. Being present is hard," Betchart says. "I work on being present all the time. It's not easy." To play present is to focus on nothing but the most immediate task at hand. Even as chaos might unfold around you, you stay present and take things one play at a time.

 

For example, take Jaylen Brown's season-opening performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers. There were about a million distractions that could've thrown Brown off. Isaiah Thomas, who was once his mentor, was now sitting on the opponent's bench. Gordon Hayward, his new teammate, had suffered a gruesome injury minutes into the game. Kyrie Irving, Thomas's replacement, was showered with boos every time he touched the ball. Yet Brown was able to remain remarkably focused, scoring a career-high 25 points. That's playing present. But even Betchart knows that a player can't be present all the time, which is why he also preaches "next play speed."


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