Reading the Court

“The key is seeing and doing. If you’re focusing on anything than reading the court and doing what needs to be done, the moment will pass you by.”

Phil Jackson – Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior

According the Anthony Robbins, author of “Awaken The Giant Within”, you will make three decisions at any given moment of the day that will determine your focus – deciding what to focus on, deciding what things mean to you and deciding what to do to create the results you want. So, in sports and particularly in any game-time situation, it is important that you are mentally prepared to make the right decisions. It is knowing how to mentally manage any moment so that you can be a positive, productive and proactive basketball player on the courhoopsimaget.

Making the best or right decisions on the basketball court is learning how to  assimilate, anticipate and actualize. You want to be able to clearly see and know what is happening in the moment, have a good understanding of what could happen in the next moment, and then decide what you want to do to positively impact what is happening to benefit you and your team. This “AAA” approach to playing basketball helps you become mentally stronger and make smarter split-second decisions on the court.

It all begins with “playing with your eyes”. You have to be willing to accurately read the court, and acknowledge and accept what is actually taking place in that moment of game. If you don’t, and lead with your feelings or any negative judgments about yourself, then you will be playing in the dark. Your mind and attention are focused on what you don’t want to happen or could be afraid will happen, and therefore, you can’t clearly see what is actually happening on the court. When this happens, you will begin to hesitate, question yourself and second guess what you want to do.

When you learn how to read the court, you will learn how to be in the right place at the right time with the right move. You will be able to position yourself to effectively respond to what is happening right in front of you and thereby play a pivotal role to help your team at that particular moment of the game. You will be able to take in, on a visual and cognitive level, what the moment is offering you, and translate that into identifying your best options and opportunities to succeed.

Anthony Lanzillo is a mental skills coach to athletes and writes about the mental game for various sports websites. You can check out his work at

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