3. Strive For an Elite 'Next Play Speed'
Next play speed is about how quickly you can flip your focus to the next play. Miss a shot? You can either mope or dart into the paint and grab your own rebound. Bad turnover? You can either hang your head or bust your butt back on defense. How quickly you're able to switch your focus to the next play is what determines your next play speed.
"How fast can I come back to the present?," Betchart says. "I just keep moving forward. I just keep coming. If I don't stop myself, I can't be stopped." Betchart has been working with Gordon since he was 11 years old, and the current Orlando Magic star was quickly drawn to the idea of "next play speed".
"This stuff made sense to him; he bought in. By the time he got to college, instead of saying this guy has great next play speed, people said he had a great motor. They said he was just born with some special ability to constantly move forward. That wasn't the case. He had been training his mind to make his body move forward, and that's what happens," Betchart says.
Gordon has been vocal about the effect mental skills training has had on his game. "It's not like you wake up and say, 'OK, I'm going to be mentally tough today.' It's taken me a long time of training to have a foundation of mental strength and toughness," Gordon told NBA.com. "It's taught me to have a consistent mindset regardless of what's going on around me. Instead of caving in to the circumstances, you buy into the opportunities…the better you get at failing, the more you are going to succeed, ultimately."
If you want to gain access to the same mental skills training used by NBA athletes, take a look at the Lucid app. Betchart serves as the director of mental training at Lucid, and the app includes the same techniques (meditation, visualization and positive affirmations) he uses with the pros. The content is largely audio-based, so you can perform your five-minute daily session anywhere that you're comfortable popping in a set of earbuds.