The Sport of Basketball

Introduction to Basketball

Basketball is a team sport which consists of 5 players passing a ball and attempting to score in various ways. You can gain points through shooting, dunking and free throws. Basketball also incorporates defensive work in order to prevent the other team from scoring — blocks are an effective way to do this. There is also a bench which consists of players who did not start the game but come in at times to play. Otherwise known as back-up players.

Basketball is an incredibly tiring sport which involves an enormous amount of skill. You must be able to play both defense and offense alongside the ability to shoot the ball. 

The first public basketball game was on March 12, 1892 in a YMCA gymnasium.  Approximately 200 spectators came to view this new and unheard of sport. As the sport grew in popularity, it was introduced into the 1904 Olympics, but it was not until 1936 when it was acknowledged as a medal event. 

Over the past few decades, the NBA has played games outside of North America, with the most recent taking place in Paris between the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets. The event highlighted how big the basketball culture in France has grown over the years especially with French players like Evan Fournier, a recent acquisition of the New York Knicks. Basketball has spread to become an incredibly popular sport globally with some of the best players in the National Basketball Association coming from Greece, Slovenia and Cameroon. The opening day rosters for the 2020-21 season also included 107 players from 41 different countries. 

Sport Psychology Techniques used in Basketball

Any sport requires a strong mentality — shooting being an essential part of basketball. This is probably the area where your mindset is the most important. Missing shots is inevitable, however, having a strong mindset will allow you to push past these nerves in order to play to the best of your ability and therefore succeed in games. 

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  As many of you probably know, talent alone will not enable you to succeed, you need to have a strong mindset and determination to put the work in. 

  A strong mindset of always competing is undeniably important in any basketball game. If you stop battling before the game is over, you will never win. Every single game will come with adversity and challenges and it is your job to fight for each win and achievement; a strong mentality is vital for this to occur. 



Having a consistent pre-game routine can help get your mind ready for a game. It can also help to relieve any nerves because having that repetition creates a sense of normality and a more focused mental state.  Many players have particular traditions they uphold before games in order to calm themselves and allow themselves to play at their best level. Additionally, playing away-games can be more nerve wracking because you are in an unfamiliar place. Creating a routine you maintain before each and every game will help you feel more comfortable regardless of whether you’re playing at home or not. 

Learning from your mistakes

The best players can make adjustments to their game on the fly, maybe the shot was a bit too far to the right or you misjudged the speed of your opponent. If you can correct these errors before they happen again, it will help increase your confidence in your play. Being able to learn from your mistakes can help your strength, but you need to have the mentality of improving your play, regardless of the situation you find yourself in. 

Additionally, letting go of any mistakes you make in a game is important so your mind can actually stay in the game. Basketball is an incredibly fast paced sport and if you allow yourself to be bogged down by your annoyances with yourself, you are going to fall behind. So, yes it is vital that you correct any errors in the game, but you also need to be able to acknowledge your mistakes and move on from them quickly, so you can win the game

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Visualization is the process of imagining an action in order to achieve it in reality. You need to be able to visualize every step of what you want to achieve. If you want to make that three-pointer, you need to see the ball in your hand,  picture your arm in action and release the ball into the net. It has been scientifically proven that visualization has dramatic benefits for your game and it is a simple tool you can utilize to better your gameplay. 

Set goals 

Whilst Basketball is a team sport, it is important for individual players to focus on how they can improve and set goals for themselves allowing the team to come together to set goals as a unit. Setting goals for both yourself and your team is a vital process in working together.

Having a variety of goals is beneficial for any athlete because it provides motivation and direction. Creating a list of goals can also help you to figure out the necessary steps to achieve said goals. In order to achieve these ambitions, you must be able to identify personal areas for improvement along with those of the team's, so  you can maximize improvement all around. 




Famous Basketball Players who use Sport Psychology

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, has constantly acknowledged the importance of his mindset throughout his career. He perfectly explains the inevitability of challenges: "If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." Jordan highlights how mentally tough you have to be to succeed in basketball, because setbacks are going to happen. 

During the NBA Finals 2021, Devin Booker discussed his mentality during the series and approaching it as 0-0 in every game he plays. This exemplifies the attitude of never thinking a game is a guaranteed win and the necessity of fighting for every single one. Being able to stay grounded and hungry during games is important because you do not want to lose any focus which may lead to mistakes.

Kobe Bryant’s ‘Mamba Mentality’ has grown to mean much more than basketball, it defines that laser focus and complete self-belief. Bryant was known for constantly looking for his opponents’ weaknesses in order to take advantage of those and help his team win. If a player bested him, he would go through hours of tape and articles to try and figure out how to do better. This dedication is inherent to the ‘Mamba Mentality’ attests to what it takes to be the best and how important it is to believe in yourself and your abilities. 


The Benefits of Practicing Sports Psychology 

Most NBA teams have sports psychologists who help players throughout the season because they comprehend how important your mentality is when playing basketball. 

Utilizing sports psychology in your life will help you play to the best of your ability and succeed in your sporting career. Having a focused mindset, setting goals and visualizing are all useful tools to help improve your mindset which will enable you to succeed. 


Allan, T. J. (2014). How Michael Jordan’s Mindset Made Him a Great Competitor.

Haefner, J. (2018). Mental Rehearsal & Psychology Aspects of Basketball - Visualization.

Herbert, J. (2020, January 29). How Kobe Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality” changed the NBA.

Murray, P. (2020, January 25). NBA Pulls Out All The Stops In Triumphant Return To Paris. Forbes.

Robinson, D. (2021, July 16). NBA: International players continue to gain ground on NBA. Deseret News.

Schuster, B. (2021, July 9). Devin Booker: Suns Need to Have ’0-0 Mindset’ Entering Game 3 vs. Bucks. Bleacher Report.

Toole, T. C. (2021, March 27).Here’s the history of basketball—from peach baskets in Springfield to global phenomenon. History.


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