Stress is one of the leading contributing root causes of poor health for most Americans. In fact, it is linked to all six of the leading causes of death in the United States including heart disease, cancer, liver diseases, lung diseases and even suicide.
While most basketball players are healthy enough to not have to worry about the above listed chronic conditions, stress can still have a significantly negative impact on players who feel overloaded between the demands of school, work, family, romantic relationships and performing well on the court.
Even chronically low levels of stress can lead to poor sleeping patterns, anger, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, as well as a lowered immune system. Basketball players who feel more stressed are often likely to suffer from the cold, flu and allergies throughout the season.
Stress targets the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the human body which means that basketball players are constantly under attack from all angles of life in order to maintain balance between these three aspects of well-being.
Mental, physical and emotional well-being are all interconnected so it’s often that if a player is suffering from severe stress in one of these areas the other two will suffer. For example, final exam week is a time of great mental and emotional stress which can mean that physically players may not perform at their best during practice because of the stressful mental distractions of worrying about studying for and passing their tests. Likewise, when a basketball player is physically exhausted or even nursing an injury, their efforts in the classroom or at work are more likely to suffer as well.
Being a part of a competitive basketball team is stressful in itself. From competing for more playing time to memorizing and executing plays perfectly, there is a lot that players have to focus on and worry about in order to develop their skills enough to become a great asset to their team. Not to mention the stress that comes with trying to perform consistently at a level on the court and in the classroom that will get them noticed by college recruiters and land them that college basketball scholarship they’ve been dreaming of for years.
Many people believe that a person’s attitude has a lot to do with their daily levels of stress. The mind is an incredibly powerful force and if you can conquer your thought processes and mental stress as a player than the emotional and physical sides are likely to follow suit for an overall peaceful and stable life on and off the basketball court.
I’m going to share with you 7 proven steps to help you develop a stress-busting attitude no matter what you may be facing in order to bring more balance to your life as basketball player and all the responsibilities that it entails.
Step 1: Become an Optimist
Optimism can take you very far in life. The way you view and deal with challenging situations can make all the difference in how you respond and sometimes even contribute to the outcome. Rather than always seeing the glass half empty, strive to be someone who sees the glass half full at all times. Basketball season comes with many challenging situations personally and as a team. Competing for positions, battling injury and sickness, dealing with tough losses and sometimes struggling to get along with difficult teammates or even a coach can leave a player feeling rather pessimistic; but, if you focus on the good things and believe that the negative will turn to positive and work towards your ultimate benefit than life will be more of a breeze than a struggle.
Step 2: Listen to Your Self-Talk
As you go throughout your day you will notice that you are always talking to yourself. Sometimes what you are saying is positive and sometimes it’s negative. By beginning to pay closer attention to the way you are talking to yourself you can gain a great idea of why you tend be more positive or negative in general. Your self-talk should be positive, encouraging and uplifting at all times in order to make yourself feel confident, empowered and ready to deal with the everyday challenges you will face as a basketball player and student. If you can’t be your biggest fan, than who will be?
Step 3: Ask Better Questions as You Reflect
Reflecting upon the questions you are asking yourself throughout the day when you face difficult situations takes self-talk a step further. It’s easy to fall into a negative, stress inducing pattern of beating ourselves up with self-defeating questions like, “Why do I always miss my second free throw?” or “Why do I always have to mess up that play?” Instead, ask yourself questions that are going to help you overcome the situation or circumstance like “What do I need to learn from my failed attempts to make it better the next time?” or “How can I adjust my form and visualize my shots going in so that I can improve my free throw percentage?” These are the kinds of questions that are focused on the positive and are going to get you much better results.
Step 4: Use Daily Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are one of the most powerful tools that you can equip yourself with as a competitor to overcome adversity and stress. Affirmations are things that we believe and they become imprinted on our subconscious mind, so regardless of whether you are consciously thinking a positive or negative thought at the time, what your subconscious believes is typically how you will behave when you are faced with stress. For example, if you believe that you are not a good defender in your mind, than your emotions and physical body will limit themselves to your affirmative belief. Employing daily positive affirmations can take you to the next level as a competitor. A good way to start using them is to make a list of 3-5 statements that are going to begin changing your subconscious mind for the better. Try powerful statements like, “I am blessed with an athletic body and gift that I use daily to the best of my abilities!” or “Every day in every way I am getting better and better as a basketball player.” You can see how these positive affirmations will you help you bust any stress you have and take you on to success.
Step 5: Set Positive, Realistic Goals
Learning to set positive goals is a great way to build your self-esteem and confidence throughout the basketball seasons. Remember to use positive words, be realistic and to keep everything in the present tense. Whether you want to increase your shooting percentage, decrease your turnovers or up your assists – keeping these things at the forefront of your mind will keep you motivated, focused and less likely to be stressing out about all the outside factors in life that can cause worry and tension.
Step 6: Practice Positive Visualizations
While thinking positive thoughts is incredibly powerful, putting energy into positive visualizations can bring success as well. How about picturing yourself hitting the game winning shot before you even take it, or how about seeing yourself shutting down the other teams’ best player? If you can create visualization in your mind then technically you already are experiencing the emotions that come with the success of the moment. It won’t be a surprise or simply a chance of luck, instead you will succeed out on the court because you expect to! Your mind is an incredibly powerful tool, so get creative and put it to work—your imagination is your friend during times of stress.
Step 7: Laugh Longer and More Often
Lightening up for more laughter and humor throughout your day no matter how hectic it may seem may be just what you need to take off that stressful edge. In fact, making time to laugh often is the most powerful stress-buster around. Research and studies are also now showing that laughing has the potential to boost the immune system as well considering that stress levels and immunity do go hand-in-hand.
Life is always going to be a challenge regardless of whether you are playing basketball or not. The important thing to remember is that you have more power over the outcome of each day and your attitude than you might think! By following the seven steps above to busting stress as a basketball player you will be happy to find that your days will flow with more ease and you won’t force yourself to spend so much time being pessimistic, focusing on the negative and beating lf or others up over small mistakes. The less stressed and happier you are on a daily basis, the closer you are to reaching your basketball dreams and goals in life.
Don’t let challenges, obstacles, difficult people and situations get in your way of living a low-stress and peaceful life – it’s simply not worth it!