How to Stop Being Intimidated in Basketball
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If you're intimidated on the basketball court, it's likely because you lack confidence in your own skills. You may worry that you're too slow or that you're not good enough at dribbling or passing, telling yourself that the other team will steal the ball once you have it. Doubt about your shooting skills can make you worry that you'll miss a layup, mess up a free throw or miss a three-pointer. Building your confidence not only helps you to overcome these fears and doubts, but can make you a better player as well.
Practice the Fundementals
If you're worried about your basketball skills, the best thing to do is to practice those skills so that they become second nature. It's easy to skimp on the fundamentals once you're used to playing the game, but taking time to practice your dribbling, proper shooting form, passing and other basics will have a significant effect on your confidence on the court. Instead of second-guessing yourself about what to do, you'll be able to just do it.
The constant starting, stopping and sudden turning involved in basketball can wear you down, getting you out of breath and making you feel like you're not as good as other players on the court. Cardio and leg-strengthening exercises are both helpful here, especially when combined with footwork drills that simulate the sudden shifts in direction that you may encounter in basketball. Exercise will also make you feel more energized, which comes in handy if you suddenly need to run to the other end of the court.
Practice Both O and D
Just like with practicing the fundamentals, spending extra time working on your offense and defense skills will make you a better player and increase your confidence on the court. Shooting drills and zone defense practice may not be much fun, but the more time you spend practicing, the stronger you'll be as a player. Pay particular attention to offensive skills like layups and shooting from odd angles, because being able to shoot on the move or from nonoptimal spots are vital skills.
Get Your Mind in the Game
Even if you practice every day, it's still possible to psych yourself out and let others intimidate you if you're not properly focused mentally. Spend time playing through games in your head, listen to your coach, and tune out players on the other team. The mental game is just as important as the physical one; the more time you spend thinking about how you'll play, the more confident you'll be once you're actually on the court.
Be a Team Player
Unless you're playing 1-on-1, you're not alone out there. Your teammates are there for you, and you need to be there for them. Practicing together will help you to work as a team, and being able to work as a team will help you to be less intimidated by what your opponents have to offer. Effective passing, blocking and setting your teammates up for shots instead of trying to take them yourself will get you working like a well-oiled machine, and it's hard to be intimidated when you're working as part of something larger than yourself.
Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.