“I would tell players to relax and never think about what’s at stake. Just think about the basketball game. If you start to think about who is going to win the championship, you’ve lost your focus”— Michael Jordan
Today’s elite basketball players knows that physical conditioning and good nutrition are critical for health and wellbeing; however, sleep, while often overlooked, plays an equally important role in the basketball mental game.
In recent years, research on sports psychology for basketball shows that the quality and quantity of sleep obtained by elite athletes can be the edge between winning and losing on game-day.
Focus and concentration are two terms that are often used interchangeably when talking about the mental game of basketball. It is one of the key athletic attributes. Developing your ability to focus requires great self-discipline, which is evident in one’s general approach to the game.
Studies have shown that mental focus, memory, and learning can be impaired by shortened sleep. When you are sleep deprived, your focus, attention, and vigilance drift, making it more difficult to receive information. Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and you lose your ability to access previously learned information which ultimate cause performance degradation.
As you know, basketball mental toughness play a huge role in determining your success. And it can be hard to find that inner strength, when you aren’t focused on the task at hand when they are tired. Making sleep a priority, allows you to feel sharp and focus for tasks you need to complete. You feel more capable, more focused, and more able to do what being asked of you, because you are well rested and alert.
Before a competition, you should be aware of a lot of things including first and foremost, yourself. Wasting brain power ruminating about things you can’t control drains mental energy quickly. The more you think about negative problems that you can’t solve, the more stress you put on yourself.
Stress management is one of the key skills for optimal performance. Perhaps less obviously, sleep can actually influence how much stress you experience. It is how you perceive the stressfulness of competition that influences your stress levels.
A recent study built from this reasoning examined the effect of sleep on stress. Researchers have shown that a lack of sleep leads to stress and a psychological strain to athlete’s mind.
Chronic stress raises your cortisol levels. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. Your body also has a delicate balance of hormones and depends on serotonin and melatonin to regulate good sleep and alertness during the day. Lack of sleep or interrupted sleep can disrupt the balance of these hormones, making you groggy during the day and restless at night. You see a consistently higher level of cortisol at all times of the day.
Being relaxed and centered increases your ability to remain calm under pressure and also improves your mental game in basketball.
By establishing good sleeping habits, you will learn how to relax in stressful situations, build self-confidence, and ultimately achieve a more positive mindset which all leads to Peak Performance!
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