Mentally Tough Player (Part 3)
In Part 1 & Part 2 of The Mentally Tough Player, we discussed different ways to define and teach mental toughness to the 21st century athlete. We discussed when working with elite athletes and teams at the varsity high school level, collegiate and professional levels, I always recommend defining mental toughness and constructing an improvement plan to develop mental toughness around the “4 C’s” – meaning an athlete’s Composure, Concentration, Confidence & Commitment. A 5th C – Character, which in many ways is also connected to mental toughness, completes the full and essential mental makeup of the player.
We learned for youth players, the meaning of these 4 C’s are not as well understood as they are by coaches and players at higher/more elite levels of basketball. Parts 1 also discussed a great secret to mental toughness that so many of the World’s best youth basketball coaches know and use, that for youth players it is much easier and much more effective to define mental toughness in relation to key on-court and off-court BEHAVIORS.
Key mental toughness behaviors are very easy to understand, simple to create a plan for, and simple to execute. In addition, behaviors can often be scored, which means that improvements can be measured and monitored. Finally, Part 2 outlined smart ways to create a mental toughness plan, and how to track improvements in a way that is simple, effective and fun for your team.
As a quick refresher Part 1 outlined the first 3 key Mental Toughness Behaviors – Connected to #1 Excuses, #2 Work Ethic and #3 Coachability, and we provided important information that will help you to explain these critical toughness behaviors to your athletes. Part 2 outlined #4 Digging Deep, #5 Loose Balls & Charges and #6 Defensive Intensity
We will complete Part 3 in this Mentally Tough Player Series by outlining Mental Toughness Behaviors keys 7, 8, and 9.
Mental Toughness Behavior # 7 THE EXTRA PASS
The Mentally Tough Player – MAKES THE EXTRA PASS WHEN NECESSARY
Mentally tough players make the extra pass when a teammate is in a better scoring position. It takes mental toughness to think more about the success of the team than personal statistics and personal glory, choosing not to take a tough shot in order to pass to a teammate who is in a much better scoring position.
The Mentally Weak Player – THINKS MORE ABOUT PERSONAL STATS & GLORY THAN THE SUCCESS AND NEEDS OF THE TEAM
# 8 NEVER AFRAID TO FAIL, NEVER AFRAID OF ADVERSITY
The Mentally Tough Player – BELIEVES IN BOUNCING BACK & BELIEVES THAT FAILURE IS ONLY TEMPORARY
The mentally tough player believes that FAILURE is NEVER FATAL, and that failure is just a temporary frustration that must be quickly replaced with a new determination to PLAN TO DO BETTER, and to follow that plan TO BE BETTER. If a player misses a key free-throw, a key shot, makes a key turn-over, or loses a big game, the very next day that same player plans (or asks his/her coach to help create a plan) to develop new practice habits to have a greater chance of success the next time that same player is in a similar situation. The mentally tough player is not afraid of failure and so is not afraid to try new things. Failure can temporarily hurt, but mentally tough players believe that failure is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Mentally tough players will use failure and adversity as an opportunity to once again prove to themselves and to everyone else just how tough they are by bouncing back quickly.
The Mentally Weak Player – ALLOWS FAILURE TO AFFECT THEIR ABILITY TO KEEP TRYING
The mentally weak player allows failure to get them down and keep them down. The mentally weak player even allows failure to give them an excuse to stop trying, while blaming other things or other people for their decision to quit. Mentally weak players are afraid of failure and so they are afraid to try new things and afraid to do hard things. When mentally weak players experience failure, their excuses and frustration sometimes precede a downward spiral of self-pity.
# 9 REFEREES
The Mentally Tough Player – RESPECTS THE REFEREE’S CALLS WITHOUT COMPLAINING
The mentally tough player accepts referee decisions, even calls they do not agree with, and they do so without rolling their eyes, acting surprised or showing their frustration. As soon as the referee makes a call, the player starts thinking about the next play, what will be important on the next play, and how to bring their ‘A’ game to the next play. The mentally tough player realizes that it is the coach’s job to question a call (whenever the coach thinks that it is necessary to question a call), and NEVER the player’s job to question a referee’s call.
The Mentally Weak Player – ONLY ACTS ‘RIGHT’ WHEN THEY THINK THE CALL IS ‘RIGHT’
The mentally weak player complains about referee calls and uses referee decisions as an excuse for poor play or when things are not going their way. The mentally weak player’s complaints often result in a loss of poise and focus, and give the opponents confidence by revealing to the opponent just how frustrated the complaining player is.
Look for Part 4 – the final part of our series on the Mentally Tough Player for the final Mental Toughness Behavior Keys #10 through #15