Play To Your Strengths

“…what most people don’t realize is that growth accelerates at a greater rate when we attend to the things we do well…growth is always more rapid when we train our minds to learn from our strengths first and then our weaknesses.”
Craig Manning – The Fearless Mind: 5 Essential Steps To Higher Performance

“We want them to make the play they can make, the easy play – which means that each player gravitates to his strengths.”
John Calipari – Players First

There are many basketball players who spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about what they can’t do or achieve in practices or the games. Some players may be focused on not making over 60% of their free throws. Other players may be worried about struggling with their defensive skills and not being able to keep pace with the opposing guards. It almost seems natural to pay attention to what you can’t do well or looking at what may be holding your game back.

Jameer Nelson (January 2, 2016) Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors
Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
The only problem with paying too much attention or focusing on your limitations and weaknesses is that you forget about what you are good at – what your strengths are. And when you keep thinking about and focusing on what you can’t do or what you don’t want to happen, you keep replaying in your mind what you can’t to or don’t want, and you also create more anxiety and stress for yourself. And when you do this, many negative things happen to you – physically and mentally. Your muscles become tense. Your breathing is more shallow. You worry about how you will look to others. You hold back and shy away from the action. You start moving slower.

As a basketball player, you have to begin by taking stock or inventory of your personal strengths. And, it’s important that you explore how you can play to your strengths – whether you are on the court or sidelines. When you think about and focus on your strengths, some positive things happen to you – mentally and physically. You feel more confident. Your muscles are relaxed. Your breathing is deeper. You want to be part of the action. You are more proactive and looking for opportunities to help your team. You don’t worry about how you look to others. You’re moving faster.

Anthony Lanzillo is a mental skills coach to athletes and writes about the mental game for various sports websites. View his Q&A here


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