No matter the sport, the most successful athletes are the ones that can motivate themselves throughly. They not only spend a lot of time in the gym practicing their shots and working out physically, but they also make sure that their motivation gets trained, too.

A lot of people forget that being motivated has a lot to do with the correct mindset, that enables you to keep yourself pushing forward and improving yourself. You have to train your brain, just like any other muscle, and have a strategy for this.

Everything we do is based on experiences we have made in the past, and can influence us positively and negatively. No matter the situation, when a decision has to be made all people go through a specific process:

1. Persipience
2. Reflection
3. Decision

When deciding usually a pattern is activated, based on education, experience and the person’s personality. This means, that people evaluate situations differently, and make different decisions based on this. Being a coach, I like to watch players and find out how they deal with pre-game nervosity. What I watch very often is that there players, that love competition and look at it as a great challenge. You can literally see excitement in their eyes, waiting for the game to begin. Then there are other players, that seem intimidated and worry about the defeats, eventhough the game hasn’t started.

My opinion is, that as a coach you should teach your players on how to use mental strategies to help them be confident and excel to their fullest. Having these strategies in place will help your players to positively influence the way of thinking. For example prior to your game you to concentrate on winning, and not on losing. Stand in front of the mirror and speak it out loud.

“I can do it!”
“I’ll go outthere and give my very best!”

Scientists have proved, that doing this has a positive influence on your confidence, as you basically plant the picture of success in your brain. Visualize your success as often as you can, and you will be astounded how much can be reached with this simple technique. During the Olympics I have watched many high jumpers using this exact technique, so when they start with the first step you can be sure that they have watched themselves jumping over that pole.

In the basketball game, you can use this technique like Karl Malone and many other players have shown as in the past. Even nowadays players are using it. When at the free-throw line you can watch them verbally visualizing making this important shot. They are constantly reassuring themselves, that they will succeed.

This positive reinforcement which takes place in your mind helps to lose intensity, gain mental strength and trains you to focus your attention to the task ahead.

In times of psychological strain you should always find the time to relax regularly, to avoid stress and nervosity. Sicknesses are directly linked to the two. Only if you can strike a healthy balance between strain and relaxation, your body and mind will, too. It can be very simple, just spend a couple of minutes on your own, without any distractions. Turn off your iPod, close your eyes and let your mind rest for a little while. If possible, go for a walk in the park or have some off-time with your friends.

Here’s a quick round-up on how you can improve your mental well-being:

1. Motivate yourself.
2. Improve your psychological efficiency.
3. Work on your self-confidence
4. Regenerate regulary.
5. Put “off-time” in your daily time table.