Do you believe that chances of winning games depend on how mentally tough a player is? How is this possible? I see mental toughness as synonymous with the saying No retreat, No surrender! Whatever position you are in a game, losing will never be an option. That is the spirit of mental toughness.

Mental Toughness in display
What are the situations in which mental toughness can be elicited by a player? If you are very much familiar with the game of basketball, you can agree that mental toughness can be seen in the following basketball game scenarios:

  • Pressure Free throws:
    This happens in the dying minutes of the game wherein a foul is called. Both teams may be tied, or the other may be up by 1 or 2 points. The fouled player must sink in his 2 free throws, either to tie or win the game. Commentators, sometimes, call this one as the pressure cooker time. A mentally tough player can be able to shoot the 2 charities even with the presence of distractions along the loud noises of the fans.
  • Being ahead of the game:
    Players do not relax even if they are ahead of the game. At times, there is much pressure in maintaining your lead, especially if it is a very tight ball game. You can observe how mentally tough the players are if they are able to keep their lead despite an impressive run attempted by their opponents.
  • Being way, way behind in a game:
    Some teams make a slow start, and then eventually explode. Mental toughness is very much visible when players keep on fighting despite being behind by a marginable deficit. It can be apparent by seeing proper execution in their offensive and defensive plays. This reflects a never-say-die attitude. If players keep their head in the game, their chance of winning increases. This is common with the underdog teams beating up the better team.

To be able to be successful in dealing with the above scenarios, players must establish effective measures to develop mental toughness.

Develop Mental Toughness
Developing mental toughness is one of the greatest challenges players face. It takes a long time and experience to develop this skill. No matter how physically conditioned you are as a player, it will all be nothing if you are not mentally strong enough to embrace the pressure of the game.

There are several factors to be considered for a player to develop a mental toughness capability.

1. Get ready to train and play
A player must embrace the responsibilities of being in the field of the sport. Accepting to a part of the sport opens up the player to allow inputs of information necessary in training and playing the game.

2. Prepare and set your mind
After accepting the sport, the next thing is to do mind-setting. A player must find time to condition his mind to prepare for his game. He can read books about the sport, attend regular practices and exercises, and listen to coach’s advice. He can try to envision himself on how he would like to become as a player. This will motivate him to set his mind on certain goals and objectives to achieve what he has envisioned about himself. It is wise to be equipped with necessary skills before getting into a competition.

3. Focus and pay attention
When a player is serious about achieving the goal of winning, he must maintain his focus and attention on the game. He should not be lazy on practices, and not be over-confident and ignore his coach’s advice and instructions. Focusing your head in the game means dedicating your time to practice, physical conditioning, and learning new skills and approaches. A focused player demonstrates proper execution of skills and plays learned during practices.

4. Be optimistic
Mental toughness is driven by an optimistic behavior. A player should have the positive thinking that he can beat anyone. It does not matter if your team plays against the number 1 team in the league. Maintaining a positive character enables the player to constantly do what he knows best. He does not easily give up. He will try to cheer himself up, as well as his teammates.

5. Handle distractions
A player displays great mental toughness by the way he handle distractions. Distractions are barriers to maintaining your focus in the game. They vary in forms. Distractions can be in the forms of personal struggles, psychological warfare against opponents, disorganized team, and disturbing fans of your opponents. A player is mentally tough if he is able to overcome and surpass such distractions.

6. Relax your mind
Chill out and relax your mind. Find time to get enough rest. Utilize relaxation techniques to exercise calming your mind. Tough players tend to remain calm even under pressure. It is easier to think and concentrate when your mind is calm and relaxed.

7. Keep your emotions in control
Oftentimes, basketball games become very intense and dramatic. Players become very emotional, displaying unethical behaviors against their opponent, and even against the referees. Players can be called for a technical foul. This will just lead to frustrations, and players lose their concentration on the game. Their defense breaks up, and offense becomes unplanned and individualized. Players must not let their emotions rule them. They should be the one controlling their emotions.

8. Use your Senses
A player must utilize all of his senses. He should look, listen, and feel his opponent to anticipate his actions. Increasing your senses centers your attention to the one you are playing against with.

9. Play by heart
I know this is all about mental toughness. However, the athlete who plays by heart has the spirit, and the willingness to win. The mind, ultimately, influences the passion of the heart.


The mind controls what the body does. Mental toughness helps players execute their games with efficacy. A player who erases the term ‘surrender’ in their vocabulary displays superb mental toughness.

Picture credit: jmrosenfeldCreative Commons Attribution