The next frontier in basketball is exploring human potential and training the mind for the individual player and for the collective team.
Over the last few years, players such as Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, have shed light on the mind and mental health, coming forward to share their personal experiences with anxiety and depression. On the college level, the NCAA recently enacted rules to provide mental health services for athletes across Power Five conferences.
Across basketball landscapes in the college, the NBA and overseas in Europe, more and more attention has been paid to the mind, mental health and player mindset. Players, coaches and teams have been slowly implementing player development-based processes with the goal of improving performance by working with the mind.
The Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks are just some of the teams employing dedicated Mental Performance resources/departments. The Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons have all used Mindfulness and Mental Performance Coaches to raise their game.
Players are no longer being viewed – nor are they viewing themselves – as just robots whose physical gifts and basketball skill sets alone can consistently carry them to producing high-level performance. Rather, they are embracing the notion that they are multi-dimensional people, who often require both a physical and mental training component working in synergy to activate and sustain improvement on the court.
The bottom line is that basketball is now at a “rubber meets the road” sort of mindfulness, serving as an entree into exploring the mind as it relates to the next frontier in sports.
A great example of this is Aaron Gordon, who has been training his mind for years with the help of World-Renowned Elite Mental Skills Coach, Graham Betchart.
“You listen to (the mental strength tools) day-in and day-out and it guides you through the ways to stay focused and stay present and how to be concerned with the process and not the results,’’ said Gordon.
Honing a stronger mental focus, while simultaneously becoming more present-moment allows players to direct their progress as players more determinately. Training the mind influences overall mental acuity, focus and confidence.
Due to these recent developments, it is not a stretch to think that the next growth area in Sports Science and basketball player development will be exploring further ways to leverage the mind.
Moving forward, I am going to begin to pull back the curtain on everything pertaining to mental health and High-Performance Mindfulness. Come take this ride with me as I draw upon my experiences embedded as a High-Performance Coach within professional and college coaching staffs and my time as a consultant working with Olympic, professional and college athletes.
I will break down and provide proposed solutions for how to facilitate improvement for players, especially the ones who have experienced chronic performance issues throughout their careers.
Additionally, we will also analyze the mechanics of the player mindset, break down why players experience slumps and why some players struggle during crunch time situations. Understanding peak performance states and processes for unlocking these exponential-type performance experiences will also be covered.
Basically, anything related to the mind, basketball and improving performance through the mind will be fair game in these columns.
This is meant to be interactive. As we begin to dive in with subsequent articles, please feel free to leave questions and thoughts in the “comments section below.” Don’t be afraid to share your experiences or observations!
The next frontier in basketball could quite possibly be unlocking the power of the mind through High-Performance Mindfulness. Stay tuned for insights, updates, and analysis on this area across professional, college and international basketball.
Jake Rauchbach is an Integrated Player Development Coach, specializing in High-Performance Mindfulness and has coached on the professional and Division-1 collegiate levels. He is the founder of The MindRight Pro® Program and consults for Olympic, collegiate and professional players and teams.
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