Basketball players and coachers use to say that you cannot teach talent. Either you have it or you don’t. This is true, yet many talented players fail to fulfil their potential. Talented players who are getting lost in the game are not an uncommon sight. In order to fulfil their potential, players need additional highly developed skills.

Unlike talent, these skills, which will be elaborated later on, are ones that definitely can be attained by learning and can be practised and improved.

Attention and Co ncentration on the Court

Apart from physical fitness, athletic traits, control of the ball, shooting etc, a basketball player needs also highly developed attention and concentration skills, good coordination, high-paced information processing ability – and the ability to command this set of skills under pressure, or in other cases to make use of them with no pressure at all. We all are familiar with the type of players that become noticeable only when the game’s fate is entirely up to them. Only then they awake and start playing well. These are players, whose level of arousal becomes optimal and allows them excellent performance only in times of pressure. This is a good quality, but is not suffice. In contrast to these players, there are others who “disappear” in big games or under pressure. The functioning level of these two types of players depends too much in external stimulations. In both cases the result is a lack of stability of the player. Stability is a critical factor for a player, as it constitutes an essential element in building his mental strength.

Attention and concentration skills, planning, rapid information processing and other developed cognitive skills are part of the components, which create mental strength.

Training the cognitive systems, in conjunction with carefully adjusted to the sportsman motorial-sensual work, can decrease to a minimum the dependency of a player in external stimulations and enable him greater regulation and self control.

Remember the sentence of Rugby champion, Phil Glanville:

“It is always easy to stay focused and meet the challenge, when you are about to lose, but the genuine art of the professionals originate from their ability to perform well over and over again, when people expect them to succeed – This marks the distinction of real champions”.

Cognitive Skills

There are players who shoot wonderful, control the ball and pass it very well, but when they need to show overall performance as well as think creatively, they fail.

In certain cases the failure in execution results from their being incapable of coordinating over time or under pressure, all the areas simultaneously working in their brain. This synchronization among areas in the brain can be practiced.

According to John Ratey, Neuro-Psychiatrist from Harvard University, the more you practice these kinds of high skills (Planning, Organization, Decision Making), the more automated they become. In addition, Ratey claims that exercises related to one part of the brain, benefit also its other part and that way various skills get improved simultaneously. His explanation for this approach is that exercising different abilities, such as spatial orientation, language, memory, sequencing thinking, etc. operates different parts of the same systems in the brain. Therefore, operating a particular brain system as a result of exercising a certain skill, will also bring to the improvement of other skills. For instance: When a basketball player is doing an exercise, which requires coordination, focusing of visual attention, auditory attention and concentration and at the same time he passes the ball and “breaks” an exercise into a sequence organized, numbered stages, he actually practices sequencing thinking, planning, visual memory and spatial orientation in parallel to motorial-sensual work, which requires coordination and collaborated action of many areas in the brain.

The combination of these actions requires high attention and good concentration skills. The player is in fact training his high brain functions and exercising the neurological systems and their way of operation, similar to the way they operate in course of a game.

In principle, if you understand how the neuro-cognitive systems work, you can definitely train them and by this way improve the player’s skills.

Orientation and Dis-Orientation

A sense of orientation is the way a person feels, when he recognizes his location relative to the space around him in the aspects of seeing, hearing and sensing.

When you talk about good orientation, you usually refer to spatial orientation.

By yanam49

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