This weeks topic is on coping with anxiety and trying not to overthink when we’re out on the court. Which basically comes down to not letting your nerves get the best of you. Easier said than done I know, but this is something that the majority of us have been through, may have experienced at a younger age, or possibly is still with us to some degree today. Shoutout to Jeff Nadro for commenting this topic in the blog Practice…We Talkin’bout Practice, and making THIS week’s blog a tough one for me.


Now I’m No Doctor…

I can only speak from experience on this problem, and I use the term problem because it’s something that you can’t just shake off to get down to business and do what you are required to do. It takes time. Time to face those fears, time to build confidence in yourself, and time to believe and see the potential that others see in you.

When I was younger, I had such a problem with anxiety that each season of my high school years, I made the team and had great practice sessions but when it came to game time, playing in front of my classmates, in front of the whole school…I froze. Some students in the crowd could see how nervous and would bang on the heaters and stomp in the bleachers just to watch me choke. My coach had confidence in me and saw my potential, but I couldn’t break the feeling that I didn’t have what it took to be out there.


Summer of ’88

Though I was having a terrible season year after year, it wasn’t my plan to go out and get better. I never promised this summer “New year, New me!”…but it happened. I had a breakthrough, and that small breakthrough led to another, which helped to build confidence in myself and on the court. I would pass by the outdoor court and play pick up games on occasion, but there was one weekend in ’88 (which at that time, some of you readers didn’t exist), that I met up with a couple of brothers that took me under their basketball wing, and changed my approach to basketball, and life.

We rode our bikes to every park in the area looking for pickup games, and once we got there they’d let everyone know, “We Got Next!” Each time we played they showed me it was okay to mess up, that regardless of my mistakes on the court (due to fear), we would play together and play to win. They helped me to break down that fear of not being perfect, to take risks and enjoy life, which inturn made me a better player and strengthened me on a personal level.


Summer of ’89

“New season, New me!” I came into the following school year thinking this is my season. Unknowingly, with all those trips to the park, I had built up my cardio and gotten stronger riding to all those different parks. Man, I was 5’11” and dunking during warmups…I couldn’t wait for the season to start!

First game I hit the court the banging of the heaters started, the stomping in the bleachers was intense, BUT by the end of the game, I was on the scoresheet…with 2pts! I went home so disappointed in myself…All I could get was a measly two points?!

The next morning, I didn’t even want to go to school. I walked to my locker, grabbed my books, then headed to homeroom. As I walked through the door I heard someone yell two points, then another, then some clapping. The guys from the team new the wall I had to break through just to get those two points and let me know they were happy for me in that achievement.

My nickname, my final year was two points. Regardless of whether I scored ten or zero, I was “two points” and after a while, I took pride in hearing it. That first game may not have been the breakthrough performance I expected, but it was the breakthrough I needed to grow as a player.


Sometimes it’s the little things

Take the small achievements and build on them. Make mistakes and learn from them. Take the time and put in work in order to achieve your goals (make sure those goals are reasonable). But most of all, look around you and realize nobody’s perfect. As good as they may be…NOBODY’s perfect! So give yourselves a break.

Click the link below to reach the 3ball-west Facebook page for a shared video, “Kobe Bryant School of Greatness“. In this interview, Kobe Bryant speaks of his first Summer League experience as a child, and what helped him to get over his disappointment with himself as a player.

It’s an uphill battle dealing with anxiety and for the most part, you think you’re alone, but you’re not. Connect with those supporting you and use their positive energy to give you the strength to overcome the challenges and meet your goals. Take that leap of faith and do you…guaranteed you’ll like where that leap takes you.

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