One question that seems to come up in interviews from time to time, is being asked who the toughest opponent I have ever faced. This is a pretty simple answer for me, and I feel that after reading this you will see that our answers might be the same.
The toughest most difficult opponent I think that we will ever have to face, on or off the court is OURSELVES. And maybe not only because of how powerful our mind actually is, but because it is with a 24 hours a day. And one mistake that I see so many people making, including myself at times, is only training the physical part of the the body. Now don’t get me wrong, this is very important, but the mental part of the game for me in my career has been even more important. Let me explain.
For example, I practice shooting thousands of free throw throughout the course of the season, and get to a point where I don’t have to even think about it, and often times I am in a gym alone do this. So in my mind I know that I can shoot free throws, and I can make them pretty easy. . . well from a physical standpoint. Now fast forward to game day and I am on the free throw line, with 20 seconds to go in the game, and we are down 1 point, and I have missed the last 5 free throws I have shot. . . all that physical training was great, but here is were the mental kicks in, this is where my toughest opponent come out, he is there right over my shoulder reminding me about those last missed free throws, and reminding me of all the times in the past that I missed important shots, and he won’t be quiet because he is in my head. This. . . . . this is when the mental part come in and makes all the difference.
So the way that you can always train this part of you is to always make sure you are challenging yourself when you are training. Always be adding different factors to the drills and exercises that you are doing. The moment you start to feel comfortable in your training or routine, it is time to change things up. Always push you limits and mental boundaries in your trainings and visualize every scenario. And by doing this, when you are down 1 point and you have missed the last 5 free throws, and its now your turn to shoot them again in the game, and you can step up to the line, quiet all of those voices, give a little grin and make the shot that leads your team to victory!