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A Mental Conditioning Program
by Anthony B. Lanzillo

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Tone Lanzillo is a mental prep coach to athletes who want to be mentally prepared to play their best game. He has worked with student-athletes, from middle school through high school and into college, in such sports as basketball, football, soccer and lacrosse. Over the past several years, he has written for a number of sports blogs and websites, including FirstDown Playbook, Coaches Training Room, Ultimate Hockey Source, and Lax Playbook.

Contact: Anthony B. Lanzillo

Given the very demanding and stressful experience of playing basketball, the essence of any mental conditioning program is to give your players the necessary tools to transform themselves into mentally and emotionally tough athletes. It's about giving very one of them the necessary mental skills and strategies to become more positive, productive and powerful players. As a coach who wants to build a successful team, it is essential to incorporate mental conditioning into every training and practice session.

Think about it. Every game is simply a series of decisions that your players will be making in hopes of achieving a specific goal. For each player, it could be deciding how to position himself, support his teammates, appropriately respond to a mistake, defend, set up the offense to score, deal with any verbal taunting from the opposing players, come back from being down by seven points, or simply stay focused with all the distractions off the court. Each decision is based upon your player's state of mind.

Time-out huddle

A mental conditioning program will help each player become mentally tough and gain the competitive edge by learning how to believe in himself, being passionate about playing the game, celebrating his strengths, keeping his focus, supporting his teammates, and knowing how to bounce back from a poor performance. The player learns to think on his own two feet and thereby becomes internally directed and driven to play at a high level. This program empowers all your players to come more proactive - mentally and physically.

The six core elements of your mental conditioning program are:

  1. Clarity - Do your players have goals for the season? Do they understand the purpose of every aspect of their practices? Are the players clear about the steps that they need to take to reach their practice and performance goals?

  2. Composure - Do the players know how to keep their poise and stay emotionally anchored? Are the players able to tune out any distractions that may trigger negative emotions?

  3. Concentration - Do your players know how to pay attention and stay focused?

  4. Confidence - Do your players believe in themselves? Do they know how to build their self-esteem?

  5. Character - Do the players have a strong work ethic? Do they know how to support and serve their teammates?

  6. Courage - Do your players know how to persevere and not give up on themselves?


Copyright 2016, Anthony B. Lanzillo

Contact: Anthony B. Lanzillo

Related page: Mental Prep Playbook