The importance of mental skill in basketball

The importance of mental skill in basketball

Mental skills used by top sporting players

Defined as a psychological process that allows a person to draw upon everything that’s happening, both internally and externally, mindfulness is vital in the world of sport. That’s right; despite the inarguable strength, power, speed, and agility of the world’s top basketball players, and those across other disciplines, it’s what’s going on inside that tends to determine the outcome of any given game, match, tournament, or round – and we’re going to tell you how, and why those mental skills are some important.

The importance of mental skill

Regardless of their physical edge there is little argument that mindfulness also plays a key role in the success of players across a variety of sports; the ability to focus, and the importance of summoning the here and now into their game, can only ever enhance a player’s performance and allow them to dominate their field, as well as reducing stress, decreasing the amount of pressure felt, and improving mental strength. Indeed, How often have you watched a basketball player stop, breathe, and then take a shot, or witnessed a footballer’s demeanour on the field as he, or she, takes that penalty? Before their body moves an inch, a player will draw upon ever ounce of their mental skill, as well as physical dexterity, and it’s the two combined that give sports stars their enhanced abilities.


Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers has always been very open about the Zen approach he encouraged; tai chi, yoga, meditation, and playing in the dark were all tactics that Jackson adopted, helping his players to sharpen their edge when it really mattered. The Golden State Warriors, on the other hand, have attributed their success to a combination of joy, mindfulness, and compassion – qualities that helped them to focus their game out on court. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neil are world famous basketball players, and all have been inspired by the mental skills coached by George Mumford. In short, your favourite sport is dominated by this fresh way of thinking, and playing.



Away from the court and onto the pitch, and football is another sport in which discipline is key to success; physical wellbeing can only be matched by mental strength, which is increased via meditation, talking therapy with a psychologist, and an awareness of the players’ surroundings and circumstance. Indeed, mental strength cannot be taught – it must be unlocked, and sports stars across a range of disciplines are striving to achieve the edge; even those rumoured to have little else going on ‘upstairs’.


And… poker?

Yes, poker. We could probably discuss the importance of mindfulness on the field for dozens of sports, but it’s in poker that we find a real need for sharpened mental skill. After all, poker was very recently classified as a mind sport, and its players rely on their wit and wherewithal to succeed. The importance of mindfulness in sport, including poker, includes techniques such as journaling, emotional freedom, and meditation, can sharpen a player’s performance and give them the edge over the competition, as well as improving their game across the board. Such techniques can be applied to a whole host of sports, clearly illustrating the importance of mental skill. How often have you considered poker’s edge, or influence, over basketball? It’s time to take note…

So, there you have it; when it comes to sport, mental skills are just as important, if not more so, than any physical skills that are possessed in the field. That ability to focus, remember strategies, concentrate on the here and now, and recall key positions is integral to the success of a move before it’s made, affecting the outcome of a game more than the audience could ever know. The chances are you’ll be watching your favourite players a little more closely from now on…

Dan BoyceAuthor: Dan Boyce (366 Posts)

Dan Boyce is a die-hard Sydney Kings fan who grew up in Melbourne during the roaring 90's of Australian Basketball and spent far too much time collecting Futera NBL Basketball cards