How To Mentally Prepare For A Basketball Game

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Mentally preparing for a game can either make you or break you. If you go into the game with the right mindset, you put yourself in position to dominate. But if you don’t, you won’t be able to play to your fullest potential which is your main goal every time you step between those lines.

Proper mental preparation for a game makes you feel more confident and relax while playing. Which enables you to read the defense faster and make smarter decisions on the court. Professional athletes across all sports take mental preparation seriously because it all starts with the mind. Without it, every thing else fails.

Read on below to learn how to mentally prepare for a basketball game and take your performance to the next level.

Top 8 Mental Preparation Tips For A Basketball Game


1. Listening To Music

Listening to your favorite music will help you get your mind off the game and the things you can’t control. Putting you in state where your either calm and relaxed or hyped and pump for the game.

It all depends on the type of music you like. If you listen to slow-beat music, you can expect to be more under-control and aware. If you listen to up-beat music, you can expect to be more active and energized for the game.

So create a playlist on your phone or ipod of your favorite music that reflects how you want to play during the game.

2. Meditation

Meditation is the process of clearing the mind and focusing on the present. Researches have shown that meditation can help improve a player’s performance. no matter what sport it is. Proper meditation holds numerous of benefits such as improving focus, reducingy stress, minimizing fear, lessen anxiety, etc… you can see how those benefits can elevate your on-court performance. People tend to over-complicate meditation, but it’s simple.

How To Meditate

  1. Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit or lie down
  2. Close your eyes
  3. Breath naturally
  4.  Focus your attention on your breath whether it’s the sound of it or the way your body inhales and exhales.
  5. I recommend meditating for 5-10 minutes before a game

(You will get distracted by opposing thoughts, just focus your attention back on your breath)

3. Visualization

Visualization or mental rehersal is one of my favorite mental preparation techniques because your telling the mind exact directions on what you want the body to do.

Having a clear and vivid mental picture of the success you want to have on the court can maximize the efficiency of your on-court performance. When visualizing you want to be as detailed as possible. Seeing the court and the players, the smell of the gym, the feel of the ball, the sound of the gym and bouncing of the ball, etc…the more life-like it is, the better. You can visualize as long as want or until you feel prepared.

Don’t get frustrated if your visualization is blurry or fuzzy. It is a skill, it gets better over time.

4. Read A Book

This might sound like one of the most boring of techniques, but it works for athletes. Reading books takes your mind off the game and places your attention elsewhere.

Some players place to much unwanted stress and worry on themselves by worrying about things they have no control over. Such as “how big the opposing team is”, “how good the opposing team is”, or “they ranked higher than I am”, all that’s going to do is just kill your confidence and performance.

So reading books before the game are a great option that will prevent you from thinking those negative thoughts or worrying about the uncontrollables.

Click here to view the top rated mental toughness books that will SKYROCKET your confidence

5. Cooling With Your Teammates

If you enjoy laughing, having fun, and being around people, this one of the best techniques you can do to prepare mentally for a basketball game.

Chilling and just hanging with your teammates before the game can bring you back to the reason why you started playing in the first place, which is just to have fun. With that mindset, your able to go out on the court loose and take all the stress off of performing well or meeting other people’s expectations.

It may seem as if your goofing off but you’re really priming your mind and body for the upcoming competition.

6. Fuel To The Fire

You may heard of the term, “Playing with a chip on my shoulder”, which means having a strong internal motivation to succeed.

If you feel as if your game is being slept on, your underrated, or you want to prove somebody wrong, use that energy as motivation for your performance. Now, you just don’t want to be angry because you won’t be able to control it and it will just hurt your performance. You want to have “controlled anger” which can give you energy and confidence throughout the game to reach peak performance.

You can also use this technique to motivate you whenever you don’t feel like working out or to help you finish out a tough workout.

7. Reviewing The Game Plan

If your coach provides the team with scouting reports or an game plan, you should take full advantage of it.

Reviewing the game plan or the scouting report can prepare you mentally because you know exactly how the opposing team plays, their best players, their tendencies, etc… which puts you at an advantage because you be able to anticipate their moves and plays faster. Sometimes even before they do it if the scouting report is that good.

The game plan can helps you know your role better and you’ll be able to make smarter decisions on the court, which in turns, boosts your confidence.

8. Watching Film Of Your Favorite Players

Watching some highlights of your favorite basketball players on Youtube can motivate you to raise your level of play.

You should watch film on players that play your position and bests suits your game. So if your a 5’10 point guard, you shouldn’t be watching highlights of Lebron James going coast to coast dunking on people. But of smaller players like Isaiah Thomas and how he gets his shot off over bigger defenders.

Watching film before the game can help you pick up on little details and make adjustments in your game.

The Bottom Line

Proper mental preparation can be the difference maker from you scoring 30 points in a game or just scoring 2 points in a game, so you want to take it seriously.

Try some of these techniques out, even combine some of them, and see which ones work for you. When you find that right combination or technique, stick with it. Keep the same routine before every basketball game you play, this will make your on-court performance more consistent.

Read my latest article on how to build confidence in basketball as this will take your mental game to a whole new level.

I hope you enjoyed and share this article on how to mentally prepare for a basketball game. If you have any questions or want to leave some of your own mental preparation tips, leave an comment below.



6 thoughts on “How To Mentally Prepare For A Basketball Game

  1. This post totally speaks to me. I played basketball through college and did many of these techniques before every game. They work great and the cool thing is that you can apply these same techniques to almost any aspect of your life. Even though I don’t play ball anymore, I still use some of these tricks. Great advice, thank you!

  2. Wow, Garrett2!!!!!!!
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  3. I have definitely used listening to music, meditation, and visualization prior to athletic events to help keep me focused and prepare me for my event. I am curious about the reading. Is there any type of books in particular that you recommend reading prior to an event to get ready? Is it more about keeping your mind off of the upcoming game, and reducing stress, or are you aiming for some type of learning with it?

    1. That depends on you. You just got to find that category of books that you enjoy reading and can read at any time of the day. For me, I love reading sports psychology and self improvement books. I can Read them all day. 

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