Mental Toughness – Characteristics of Mentally Strong People

Mental Toughness – Characteristics of Mentally Strong People

I regularly talk with my players at practice about mental toughness and how to deal with adversity.  I recently found this great article on 20 things mentally strong people don’t do.  The article really hits some great points and is extremely valid to a number of things I try and stress with my teams.  I really like the entire list because it’s extensive and on point, but I’ve tried to pick my five favorites.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Dwelling on the past – Kids who dwell on the past are only going to make more mistakes in the future.  If you’re consumed with what happened you’re not focusing on what’s happening and going to happen.  I stress with my players the importance of not letting one mistake lead to two and three mistakes, and dwelling on the past will lead to these additional mistakes.
  2. Repeating mistakes – Dwelling on the past and this one kind of go hand in hand.  You can’t dwell on the past, but if you don’t learn from it and you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again you’re never getting better.  Too often I find players repeating the same mental mistakes over and over again.  As a coach you don’t know if it’s due to poor listening skills or lack of focus, but either way it’s never a good sign when players cannot learn from the past.
  3. Thinking about the possibility of failure – As a competitor it’s hard to not think about failure because the game(s) mean so much to you, but doing this only leads to negative thoughts.  I’m a very firm believer in the power of positive thinking, and focusing on the possibility of failure will most often times lead to failure.  I want my kids to think about their routine when shooting free throws for example, not failure.  Guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are great examples of players who don’t think about failure.  One of my current favorites is Michigan guard Nik Staukus who plays without fear of failure at all times.
  4. Feeling like your owed – Nothing worth having comes easy, and if you think life owes you something you are in for a rude awakening.  Players who play this way will struggle because they’ll continually blame others instead of taking responsibility and working on correcting their problems.
  5. Throwing in the towel – Mentally strong people never give up easy, and neither will mentally tough basketball players.  One of the greatest things sports teaches is how to deal with adversity.  One of my favorite quotes that I regularly use is, “You measure a man’s greatness by how much it takes to discourage him.”  The best teams I’ve had all had this mental toughness about them where they were unwilling to ever throw in the towel or get discouraged in difficult situations.

Building mental toughness may not be measurable, but it’s certainly something I work on instilling every day we have a game or a practice.  Consider sharing this article with your team and use it to help improve your teams mental toughness so that your team can learn to battle through adversity in tough basketball games.

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