Mental Toughness

Welcome to the 32nd edition of the Coach’s Corner Round Table on the Hoop Heads Podcast. Each episode of the Coach’s Corner Round Table will feature our All-Star lineup of guests answering a single basketball question.  A new Coach’s Corner Round Table will drop around the 15th of each month.

August’s Round Table question is:  How do you help players improve their mental toughness? 

Our Coaching Lineup this month:

Please enjoy this Round Table episode of the Hoop Heads Podcast and once you’re finished listening please give the show a five star rating and review after you subscribe on your favorite podcast app..

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Let’s hear from our coaches about how they help their players improve their mental toughness.

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Click here to thank Erik Buehler on Twitter!

Click here to thank Chris DeLisio on Twitter!

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Click here to thank Dan Madhavapallil on Twitter!

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Hello, and welcome to the 31st edition of the coach’s corner round table on the Hoop Heads Podcast. Each episode of the Coach’s Corner Round Table, we’ll feature our [00:03:00] all-star lineup of guests answering a single basketball question, a new coaches corner round table we’ll drop around the 15th of each month.

August’s round table question is, how do you help your players improve their mental toughness? Our coaching lineup this month includes

Erik Buehler – Chatfield (CO) High School

Chris DeLisio – Olmsted Falls (OH) High School

Liz Kay – Wahconah (MA) High School

Dell Leonard – Mountain Home (AR) High School

Dan Madhavapallil – University at Albany

Harri Mannonen – Coach & Author from Finland

Aaron Meyer – 19Nine Vintage Basketball Apparrel

Kyle Pennington – Russellville (AR) High School

Don Showalter – USA Basketball

John Shulman – University of Alabama-Huntsville

Joe Stasyszyn – Unleashed Potential

Lee Swanson – Bunker Hill (NC) High School

Please enjoy this round table episode of the Hoop Heads Podcast. And once you’re finished listening, please give the show a five star rating and review.

If [00:04:00] you’re a basketball coach at any level, please check out our Hoop Heads coaching mentorship program.  You’ll get matched with one of our experienced head coaches and develop a relationship that will take your coaching, your team, your program, and your mindset to another level.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @hoopheadspod for the latest updates on episodes, guests and events from the Hoop Heads Pod

Let’s hear from our coaches about how they help their players improve their mental toughness.

Mike Klinzing: [00:03:48] Erik Buehler – Chatfield Senior High School, Littleton, Colorado.

Erik Buehler: [00:03:54] What’s going on Hoop Heads? This is Eric Buehler at Chatfield senior high. And this month we were [00:04:00] asked how we work with our players on their mental toughness. And I think we do a few things to help our guys out with their own mental toughness. A big thing that I think is important for us. We talk about it a lot.

We definitely talk about it a lot more than talk about our physical toughness. Because as we all know you can be a very physically tough team, but if you don’t have the mental toughness to go along with it, it’s kind of Nolan void. We talk a lot about, we talk a lot about it after games, during halftimes after practices, scrimmages, things like that.

Just about what we could have improved or moments where. Either our mental toughness showed out or where our mental toughness was lacking. And we, we like to shine light on those situations. So, or players actually know what it looks like. Then I think another big everything we do is we try to create those situations where mental toughness needs to come into play in practices.

Usually where we’re coming back from a huge disadvantage or. [00:05:00] One of our better players is out of a game or we have to come back in a scrimmage, things like that, just so they get used to the mindset of like, this is possible. And what is needed to do where our focus needs to be with our mental toughness.

And then finally something that we’re getting better at. I wouldn’t say we’re great at it yet. It’s working on those one-on-one relationships where you can tell a player is struggling with some mental toughness, things pull them aside and practice after games and, and just pointing out some things they can improve and things that we’re seeing as coaches that they can add to their game or will improve their game on the mental side of things.

So that’s what we do. Thanks for having me on again. And I’ll talk to you guys later.

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:48] Chris DeLisio, Olmsted Falls High School, Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

Chris DeLisio: [00:05:55] Chris DeLisio here, Olmsted Falls would help him players [00:06:00] improve their mental toughness. I think that’s definitely gotta be something as a coach that you mix into your practice plan that you have as an intentional thing that you’re trying to do, whether it’s.

During shooting drills, I think is a great opportunity to do it, to talk about the mental approach and not worrying about misses, things like that. Or if you’re just sending that message, maybe pre-practice or post practice. But I think that, you know, that’s something that the coach has to really make sure that they’re consciously putting into their plan of attack and, and talking about the different types of mental toughness that happens, you know, Maybe six, eight minutes on rebounding drills or passing drills or other things.

Sometimes we don’t want to give up practice time, you know, with some other things that we don’t think are going to help our team, but when it really comes down to it, I think that getting those messages across and helping our players have a perspective about how to be mentally tough in different situations [00:07:00] is going to be as impactful or even more.

Then maybe doing some of those other drills. So I think definitely getting in your practice plans gotta be a key for you.

Mike Klinzing: [00:07:11] Liz Kay from Wahconah High School, Dalton, Massachusetts.

Liz Kay: [00:07:17] Hi everyone. This is Liz Kay from Wahconah regional high school in Dalton, Massachusetts. And to answer this month’s round table question. On how to develop a players’ mental toughness. I would have to say that the first thing they have to think about would be sort of your definition of toughness and in conversations with coach show Walter, one thing he talks about a lot with toughness is that you can know a player is tough, but not really be able to define.

And so for him and, and I, I wish I could take credit for it, but he basically says, you know, it’s a player who could do the right thing at the right time. Someone who makes game-changing plays and that can be in the physical realm of the mental realm. But with regards to mentality, [00:08:00] I would have to say that the three things that I think are most important in mental toughness would be connectedness support.

And preparedness. So for example, when we develop a physical and mental toughness, obviously you can, you can do several things in practice to develop these things. Our players always feel like they’re more prepared than other teams and that gives them confidence. So when we talk about end of game situations or making game changing play.

Situational basketball is something that we do all the time in practice, at least once a day, if not for an entire practice during the week. And so therefore our players are very comfortable in high stress situations, knowing that they’re already prepared to make the right play without thinking too much about it.

The other piece of that obviously is that things might go, might go wrong. There has to be some level of resilience. And so when we talk about support and connectedness, not only support from the [00:09:00] coaching staff but also teammates and therefore feeling connected to everybody to have the ability to make those mistakes and be resilient.

Because obviously in today’s world, there’s more judgment than ever with regards to outside forces as well as inside the gym. So we try to make everything is. Sort of supportive and you know, okay. As possible to make mistakes along the way in the hopes that that then translates into learning not only on the court, but off the court as well.

So again, some things we think of when we talk about mental toughness please make time for those game-changing plays in practice. End of game situations, quick hitters, et cetera. So they’re already coming. Create a connectedness and supportive nature within your organization. And hopefully this will help improve not just physical toughness, but also the mental toughness that’s needed to be successful.

Thanks everyone.

Mike Klinzing: [00:10:01] Dell Leonard, Mountain Home High School, Mountain Home, Arkansas

Dell Leonard: [00:10:07] Dell Leonard, Mountain Home, Arkansas. So the question for this hoop heads round table is how do you help players improve their mental toughness? We believe that you just make practice harder than gains practices need to be really competitive, use time and score your drills and your PR practice as much as possible to create competitiveness, create situations and practice where players go head to head and try to beat each other.

If the players, you know, if they’re not competing against each other having them compete against the clock, trying to get a certain score to a drill before the time runs out on the clock. And then again, as far as competing against each other play one-on-one especially early in the year Geno Auriemma said that you can tell a lot about a player in a one-on-one.

And just try to expose players to tough situations [00:11:00] rather than avoiding them. If a coach avoids a tough situation, say because they’re afraid that they have a talented player or maybe a team that, that can’t handle it, or maybe that coach just doesn’t want to deal with an uncomfortable situation. I, I believe we see that way too often anymore.

And I think that that coach is doing injustice to his players. I believe a coach’s job is to constantly put players in demanding situations, through competition in order to help them learn how to deal with those moments that do require mental toughness. When, when players or teams have those setbacks and failures that occur in practice or games.

As coaches, we have to help them understand that those things are natural and they’re going to deal with a lot tougher situations later in life and more so those learning moments are really important and they’re needed as part of the, the mental toughness, [00:12:00] developmental process. And I think if we can get, get players to look at tough times, is.

If that will understand that those times are as valuable as those confidence boosting moments when they achieve their goals without, you know, without going through tough times, players won’t have the opportunities to become mentally tougher and they have to learn how to handle those tough moments or those tough games or the important lessons will never be learned.

The difference between the middle. The mentally weak basketball player and the mentally tough basketball player in my opinion is not really whether or not they have both experienced adversity. I think the difference is how they go about handling it. And that process also often falls back on the coats on how to teach the player, how to handle it.

So in closing, just put players in tough situations and teach them and educate them how to handle those situations. [00:13:00] I think the teaching part and educating them on how to handle situations. That’s, that’s the part where, you know, they know you care about them and you don’t let them leave necessarily, you know, after having a bad day type deal, you just educating them on how important those moments are.

Mike Klinzing: [00:13:20] Dan Madhavapallil, assistant men’s basketball coach at the university at Albany.

Dan Madhavapallil: [00:13:28] This is Dan Madhavapallil with you, Albany men’s basketball answering this months round table question. How do you help players improve their mental toughness? I absolutely love this question. Most people say the game is 90% mental.

However, we rarely spend that much time on it when someone is playing well, we often hear people say that they are in the zone. Well, actually psychologist referred to this as the flow state and being in the flow [00:14:00] state is described as being in the present moment to moment to moment. One of the best ways to live in the present moment is to focus on the breath.

If you want to make it a practice every single day, before a team huddle, have everyone take a deep breath before free-throw take a deep. Any stop action. Tell your players take a deep breath because most people play the game with one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and they often mess up the present.

Take a deep breath, focus on the present moment. Be in the zone.

Narrator: [00:14:44] Harri Mannonen, coach and author from Finland.

Harri Mannonen: [00:14:51] Games are first played by teams and only secondarily secondary its individual players. [00:15:00] So firstly, it’s the basketball team that should be mentally tough. Not the individual players, players are never left on their own.

Rather together. They learn how to be mentally tough or how to function.  This mental toughness or resilience is developed through resilience, resilience, practicing useful skills and capabilities. Coach’s job is to interview when ever the team’s resilience starts to crack because needs to create hole or a purpose or some constraints that get the players back on track.

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Aaron Meyer: [00:16:34] For me, the best players in the world are the ones that aren’t, don’t just Excel with their skills, but are the most consistent player. So helping players improve their mental toughness would involve helping them to form habits related to strengthening their mental toughness and supporting their mental health.

It’s the frontier for coaches and players. The 21st century. I know when I started high school, we barely had a weight room, but our coaches pieced it together and taught us how to [00:17:00] utilize the weights for strength, training and conditioning. And most importantly, they added these times into the practice schedule.

They didn’t just tell us to use the weights. They set up a, an S and strategize with us so that we could set goals and make improvements. I think the same can and should be done with mental health and toughness. That would depend on where my team was at with their own practices for new players. I think that they would need time to explore what their mental health exercise is going to entail.

Meditation, yoga, mindfulness, prayer, positive self-talk self-reflection, et cetera. Once we’ve established what the individual players are going to take on or what we’re going to do as a collective. If we decide to go that. Then I think tracking becomes important. You can use an app like Headspace or track it on a shareable document, but the key is to turn something that’s helpful into something that’s a daily practice.

What I enjoy about basketball is the meditative quality of it. But I had to learn when things weren’t going well to let go and enjoy the rest of the life around the game. What I [00:18:00] didn’t realize at the time is that the ability to be present in the, in the moment also helped me within the game as well.

It’s often said, but so true. If I could take my brain and put it into my high school body, I’d be a much better player, but I hope that my willingness to help players form mental toughness and health habits will get them to where I am during their playing days.

Mike Klinzing: [00:18:22] Kyle Pennington, Russellville high school, Russellville Arkansas.

Kyle Pennington: [00:18:27] Kyle Pennington head boys’ basketball coach Russellville high school in Russellville Arkansas. This month’s round table question was how do you help players improve their mental toughness? To me, this is such a loaded question that can be answered so many ways in our program. One of the biggest things we talked about is our will verse.

There will, we’re not going to allow other teams to break out. No matter what’s going on during the game, whether we’re up 10, down 10 in a tight ball game, best players in foul trouble, any [00:19:00] situation we’re not gonna allow the other team to break our wheel. We build on this throughout the year with toughness, drills, and exercises in today’s world.

It’s so important to train the mind just as it is to train the body. We give reminders daily to not break our. We conduct situational drills and then a huge part of mental toughness is the white room. It’s a proven fact, no matter what sports you play, if you’re consistent in the weight room, it’s not going to only help you physically, but also mentally.

Mike Klinzing: [00:19:35] Don Showalter USA basketball.

Don Showalter: [00:19:45] Hi! Don Showalter here with USA Basketball. And the question for this month is how do you improve, improve your players, mental toughness? I think there’s a lot of ways to do that, but I think the number one way in practice is [00:20:00] to have a lot of drills where they compete. With each other and there’s a, there’s a win or a loss.

And in the winners obviously get a drink of water or whatever, and the losers have to maybe run one sprint or whatever, just to give them some semblance that, Hey, you know, winning and losing is important. But mental toughness can also come from daily activities. Being organized, coaches being extremely organized in their practices, I think develops mental toughness with players and they see you being organized.

I think it gives them some really semblance of toughness to their game as well.

Mike Klinzing: [00:20:36] John Shulman, University of Alabama Huntsville and the 720 sports group.

John Shulman: [00:20:43] Yes, this is John Shulman head basketball coach of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The question is how do you help your players improving their mental toughness?

Hard-won hopefully they have unbelievable mental toughness [00:21:00] when they get to college if they’re not mentally tough going to be hard for them to play in college, but how can we improve? And then, you know, I did coach in high school. How can you help and improve those guys? If they’re not mentally tough because of the mentally tough, I am assuming you would be called middle solved.

And so I think the first thing you have to do is you have to challenge them. You’ve got to challenge them. It can’t be, it can’t be easy. You know, everything that’s good out there that you want to achieve is on the other side of hard in, if that’s the case. Is if, if they’re going to be successful and be mentally tough, it’s gotta be challenging.

It’s gotta be hard. I think sometimes failing is just fine. So if they’re supposed to make a time, they don’t make a time and then you have to talk to them about body language. Because body language, [00:22:00] you know, we all know body language screams. But if they have bad body language, that is very simple.

They’re showing everybody how soft they are and how not mentally tough they are. And so you need to talk to them about it. And so you, and you need to visit with them on the front end. Hey, when you’re, when people have not you, but when people have bad body language, they’re showing everybody how soft they are.

Am I not right? And they agree. Yeah. Code. Then, so when they do it, they’re showing themselves that they are solved. And so that’s why I think you can do it on the front end is talk to them, challenge them, talk to them about their body language. And then I think huge is to film it. If you’re worried about one kid and worried about his softness or worry about his body language, film him during practice, don’t film the whole practice, just film him and then go back.

And why. Maybe [00:23:00] get a collection of not highlights, but of low lights on him, show bad violin literature, or being soft mentally and then film it and show because nobody wants to look like that. So I think if you show him that, I think that helps, but I think challenging in, in different drills, mental toughest drills shooting, free throws at the inner practice shooting Fritos.

Everybody’s on the line trying to beat the pro. Every time you make a three accounts, one every time you miss it gets two for the pro. And so be down. Who can be down 10 to 18, where you’ve got to go 11 for your next 13 from three, or you lose, you know, some guys can do that middle lane, some guys can’t, but trying to help them get mentally.

By doing those types of competitive situations. But I just, you know, and when they are, when they start showing some, some toughness and making a [00:24:00] free-throw late, you know, every competitor drill that we’re going to do this year, we’re going to put someone at the foul line at that team wins. Even if it’s a fall for competition at that team Williams, somebody on their team has to go up there and step and make a free throw.

That’s being mentally tough when you’re fatigued and having to make a free throw. So in turn, mentally tough teams win because mentally tough things make fried those at the end of games and are ready to take care of business at the end of the games. So try to catch them doing something good, catch them, having a good moment in mental toughness and but just challenging.

During practice. And I would use that video an awful lot. I hope this helps appreciate your time. Take care,

Mike Klinzing: [00:24:45] Joe Stasyszyn – Unleashed Potential, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Joe Stasyszyn: [00:24:52] Joe Stasyszyn Unleashed Potential. This month’s question is how do you improve a player’s toughness? [00:25:00] There’s different ways that, that we really work a lot on improving toughness in a player.

I think the first thing that you need to do is you need to show them what that looks like. We talk about this all the time, whether it’s hard work or whether it’s toughness. I think with today’s player, you have to show them what toughness looks like. So one of the ways that we do that is we have a program that we run for a four weeks straight called our toughness program.

And in that toughness program, we will have specific drills where you’re actually competing against another player, whether it’s ball handling, whether it’s, you know, having to rip the ball out of someone’s hands. And try and score with it going one-on-one to start to play the person who rips the ball out of the other person, hands is on offense.

You know, the person is on defense, I think, by doing things like that game, situations like that, that’s how you improve or increase it. Players mental toughness. I have a [00:26:00] saying that I, that I got from someone that I used a lot. That I, that I like to say to players is everyone. Everyone wants to be a beast until it’s time to do a beast, do well.

You have to show them what it’s like to be a beast. And what beast actually do, you know, to improve their mental toughness. You’re the other saying that, that I like to use, you know, with players a lot is I got this from my, my great friend and mentor Kevin Eastman. He talks about getting over mad, sad, and hard.

Yeah. You know, sometimes, you know, if you want to be a great player, you got to get over those things. And sometimes things are hard and sometimes things are tough. So we have, you know, in, in all the drills and all that, the game situations that we do in player development, we have some form of competing.

And I think competing is one of the greatest ways to increase a person’s mental toughness. When, when we’re, when we’re doing the IVUS one shooting. Well, you have to start in a corner and work their way to the other corner. If they don’t make enough shots at each spot, [00:27:00] they go back to start. It’s a drill that I, that I got from watching JJ Redick for many years when he was down to duke in, in the NBA.

That he used to do. They used to do with him all the time down to duke where, you know, it, it really increases your mental toughness. It’s very, game-like because it’s a game situation. Whereas yet, at the end of the, the other side of the court, if you need to make one more basket, one more shot and you don’t do that.

Then you go back to start. So that’s a natural way in a, in a player development situation to improve a person’s mental toughness. So that’s what we try to do when we’re working with players is first of all, to get them to understand and see what toughness looks like. You know, again, whether it’s a ball handling drill, whether it’s a shooting drill, whether it’s a one B one or two V two, whatever the case may be, that’s really the, you know, the prime way.

That, that we increase a person’s mental toughness is just by putting them in situations where. They have to learn to be tough [00:28:00] in, and again, until they see that and actually do that in practice or in a player development situation, then maybe they don’t understand what that is. You know, kids say all the time while working hard, or I am playing tough, but unless you show them what that looks like, I don’t really think they understand what toughness is.

And, and it’s a process, you know, and again, we talk about this all the time. That’s a learned behavior. You have to learn to play tough. You know, it’s not something that someone naturally does. I just think when you’re put into those situations we have the, we have another drill that we do where you have to own the line, that a basket, the straight line.

So we’ll put a player up against you side by side. And have them try to push you off that line on your way to the basket too, for a finish. And that’s, that’s learning how to play tough, whether whether, you know, you having to stay in a straight line, we say owning the. Versus renting the line and being pushed off the line.

That’s an aspect of, of how you help a player develop [00:29:00] mental toughness. And again, whether they’re competing against themselves, but having to make a certain amount of shots or competing against another player we’re very big on competition that that teaches toughness and, you know, a person’s gonna lose only so many times before they realize, Hey, I have to get tougher.

If I want, if I want to win this competition, if I want to win this race. That I have to play tougher. So again, it’s a process. It’s something that has to be learned. It has to be taught. It has to be shown that are basically my ideas on improving mental toughness.

Mike Klinzing: [00:29:35] Lee Swanson- Bunker Hill High School – Claremont, North Carolina.

Lee Swanson: [00:29:42] So the question is how do we make our kids a more mentally tough? I think the first thing with any program or the group of kids. Athletes. This is trying to talk about what exactly it is to find what mental toughness is, what the characteristics of it are. And then like it would teach you the, I was trying to educate them.

We do a lot of short [00:30:00] readings videos, or we’ll bring in speakers or have speakers put up. And we really just try to stress what those things are. And then when they’re not being mentally tough, Sometimes we’re going to be really hard about that. Sometimes we can not be as hard to put in a little situation.

But I feel like your kids really understand that when they start calling it. And there’s there’s a ton of good resources out there. Josh Metcalf, we’re, we’re big on the chop wood, carry water, things of that nature. We do a lot of what drives winning stuff. We have some really good resources.

So once you kind of hone in on your kids on what mental toughness is, and, and, and really are honest with them as individuals and with a team when necessary they can kind of start holding each other accountable. And, you know, you can just look at them and say, Hey, you’re not being very mentally tough.

And a lot of times it makes my job easier. Because they realize it and I don’t have to get on them as hard and they can, they can snap back out of and get to the desired behavior award you know, back into the game without having to come out or, or Powerade or go through some stuff. And some kids are better than others and [00:31:00] every kid’s running, they’re all race.

But I certainly think the more mentally tough your team can be the better chance you have to win a tight game.

Mike Klinzing: [00:31:09] Thanks for checking out this month, Hoop Heads Podcast Round Table. We’ll be back next month with another question for our all-star lineup of coaches.

Narrator: [00:31:21] Thanks for listening to the Hoop Heads Podcast presented by Head Start Basketball

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