“Coaches shouldn’t have to push you to work hard, you should push yourself to work hard because you want to be a great player” – Bob Knight
There are many reasons why regular exercise is good for athletes – having a healthy heart and improving your joints and bones are just two, but regular physical exercise is also beneficial for your mental wellbeing and your basketball mental game.
Regular exercise has a huge potential to enhance your wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk aerobic exercise increases your mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
Participation in regular exercise can increase your basketball confidence and can reduce stress and anxiety. It also plays a role in the development of your mental skills and in improving the outcome of your performance.
When something occurs that make you feel threatened or upset in some way, your body’s defenses cut in and create a stress response, which may make you feel a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms and make you behave differently, and you may also experience emotions more intensely.
The most common physical signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, and loss of appetite. Symptoms like these are triggered by a rush of stress hormones in your body – otherwise known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. It is these hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate and increase the rate at which you perspire, preparing your body for an emergency response.
Physical exercise can be very effective in relieving stress. Research on sports psychology for basketball has found that highly active athlete tend to have lower stress rates compared to individuals who are less active.
In numerous studies, exercise has been shown to increase both serotonin production and release. Serotonin is the molecule of will power, of delaying gratification. Decreased serotonin activity can lead to an inability to create and act on well-formed plans. That can mean having difficulty with regular performance, or feeling a little down, or getting annoyed easily, or being unable to control your impulses.
Apart from making you relaxed, serotonin also helps you to regulate your sleeping patterns, your body temperature, your memory and your appetite. When any one of these things becomes irregular due to a lack of serotonin, it can cause even more stress and cast a negative impact on your basketball mental game.
Increasing your serotonin levels through fun and rewarding activities such as doing a physical activity of your choice on a regular basis will bring your brain chemistry back into balance, so that you can stop feeling anxious and start feeling great in both your body and your mind.
Make exercise an essential part of your routine. The biggest problem with exercise is that when athlete don’t feel like doing it, they don’t do it. But sometimes the reason they don’t feel like doing it is because their serotonin activity is low, and they’d rather wander around. So it’s important to go against what you’re feeling at the moment, and remind yourself of what’s important to you.
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