Category Archives: Motivational Notes (for players)

Mental toughness: 20 ways to get it

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books, Training Camp by Jon Gordon.  One of my favorite chapters in this book is chapter 20 (Twenty Ways to Get Mentally Tough).   I just had to share it with you.  Mental toughness is what is needed to get through the challenges we face in life.  Whether it’s challenges you face on the basketball court, in the classroom, at work, or just everyday life adversities, the key component of getting through it and becoming successful is being mentally tough.    Yes, mental toughness is not something you are born with, it is something that can be developed.  In the same manner we master certain skills in our lifetime, mastering the skill of mental toughness takes practice.  You must realize that being positive or negative is a habit, and you have to choose to be positive.  And here’s a great guideline on how to choose to be positive:

1.  When you face a setback, think of it as a defining moment that will lead to future accomplishment.

2.  When you encounter adversity, remember, the best don’t just face adversity; they embrace it, knowing it’s not a dead end but a detour to something greater and better.

3.  When you face negative people, know that the key to life is to stay positive in the face of negativity, not the absence of it.  After all, everyone will have to overcome negativity to define themselves and create their success.

4.  When you face the naysayers, remember the people who believed in you and spoke positive words to you.

5.  When you face critics, remember to tune them out and focus only on being the best you can be.

6.  When you wake up in the morning, take a morning walk of gratitude and prayer.  It will create a fertile mind ready for success.

7.  When you fear, trust.  Let your faith be greater than your doubt.

8.  When you fail, find the lesson in it, and then recall a time when you have succeeded.

9.  When you head into battle, visualize success.

10.  When you are thinking about the past or worrying about the future, instead focus your energy on the present moment.  The now is where your power is the greatest.

11.  When you want to complain, instead identify a solution.

12.  When you own self-doubt crowds your mind, weed it and replace it with positive thoughts and positive self-talk.

13.  When you feel distracted, focus on your breathing, observer your surroundings, clear your mind, and get into The Zone.  The Zone is not a random event.  It can be created.

14.  When you feel all is impossible, know that with God all things are possible.

15.  When you feel alone, think of all the people who have helped you along the way and who love and support you now.

16.  When you feel lost, pray for guidance.

17.  When you are tired and drained, remember to never, never, never give up.  Finish strong in everything you do.

18.  When you feel like you can’t do it, know that you can do all things through Him who gives you strength.

19.  When you feel like your situation is beyond your control, pray and surrender.  Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t.

20.  When you’re in a high-pressure situation and the game is on the line, and everyone is watching you, remember to smile, have fun, and enjoy it.  Life is short; you only live once.  You have nothing to lose.  Seize the moment.

Training Camp by Jon Gordon


25 Little Things to Remember (from Pete Carril)

Here are “Twenty-Five Little Things to Remember” taken from one of my favorite books to read:  The Smart Take From The Strong (The Basketball Philosophy of Pete Carril).

Twenty-Five Little Things to Remember

1.  Every little thing counts.  If not, why do it?

2.  When closely guarded, do not go toward the ball.  Go back-door.

3.  Whenever you cut, look for a return pass.

4.  When you commit to a cut (or back-door) do not stop and do not come back to the ball.

5.  Bad shooters are always open.

6.  On offense, move the defense.

7.  Putting defensive pressure on the ball makes it harder for the team to run an offense and gives your team a better chance to defend.

8.  In a zone or any defense, when their five men guard your three men, look to throw cross court passes.

9.  Watch the man in front of you.  He shows you what to do.

10.  Keep your dribble.  Use it when you’re going to do something useful.

11.  A pass is not a pass when it is made after you’ve tried to do everything else.

12.  A good player knows what he is good at.  He also knows what he is not good at and only does the former.

13.  You want to be good at those things that happen a lot.

14.  When the legs go, the heart and the head follow quickly behind.

15.  Defense involves three things: courage, energy, intelligence.

16.  If your teammate does not pass the ball to you when you’re open and he doesn’t say anything, then he did not see you.  If he says “I’m sorry,” he saw you and did not want to throw you the ball.

17.  In trying to learn to do a specific thing, the specific thing is what you must practice.  There is little transfer of learning.

18.  Whatever you are doing is the most important thing that you’re doing while you are doing it.

19.  Anyone can be average.

20.  Being punctual is good in itself.  However, what is more important is that your punctuality tells your teammates what you think of them.

21.  Hardly any players play to lose.  Only a few play to win.

22.  I like passers.  They can see everything.

23.  The way you think affects what you see and do.

24.  Rarely does a person who competes with his head as well as his body come out second.  That was said even before Coach Vince Lombardi by the Greeks and the Romans, and probably by the Chinese.

25.  The ability to rebound is in inverse proportion to the distance your house is from the nearest railroad tracks.

Are you a valuable player?

As I was watching Kentucky’s post game press conference after their National Championship win Monday night, I heard John Calipari state something that he says he talks to his team about frequently. “Tell me what you do to help us win when you’re not scoring balls”. Calipari was responding to a question regarding the offensive struggles of his freshman sensation Anthony Davis, who made only one of his 10 field goal attempts that game. Despite the poor shooting percentage, there was no question who the most dominating player on the floor was. Since Davis couldn’t find his game offensively, he found other ways to impact the game by dominating the glass and also by recording 6 blocks. His help-side defense affected the way Kansas players attacked the basket. He also contributed offensively with 5 assists. The bottom line is that he found other ways to be a contributor on the floor. Anthony Davis has value.

As a player, what is your value to the team that you play for? Other than scoring points, what other skills do you truly want to be better at so that you can contribute those skills to help your team win. Are you really about winning? Or are you just concerned about how many points you score? Other than scoring, what other things are you good at that makes it difficult for your coach to take you out the game?

Continue reading Are you a valuable player?

Jay Bilas: Defining toughness

I came across this great article written by ESPN’s college basketball analyst, Jay Bilas. I always enjoy listening to this former ‘Dookie’ breaking the game down and you can definitely see the passion he has for the game of basketball. This is ESPN insider content, so I am pretty sure re-posting this here is frowned upon. But, this article is over 3 years old and besides, I’m pretty certain there are only about 7 people who even visit this blog…so I figure it’s no big deal. In all seriousness, this is an excellent article written by Jay Bilas that explains what being a tough player really means. All players should give this one a read.

Continue reading Jay Bilas: Defining toughness

Winners vs Losers 2 (Scoreboard for a Winner)

This little piece I found is similar to a post I posted a while back titled Winners vs Losers.  It sends the same message, in the same fashion.  Use this piece as a self-evaluation of yourself.  When it’s all said and done, are you a winner or are you a loser?  Being a winner is a choice.  Change your attitude if any of the loser qualities describe yourself.  Change your attitude to a winning attitude.  Chose to become a winner.

Scoreboard for a Winner


A winner says, “Let’s find out!”

A loser says, “Nobody knows.”

When a winner makes a mistake, he says, “I was wrong”

When a loser makes a mistake, he says “It wasn’t my fault.”

A winner credits his “Good Luck” for winning
– even though it isn’t good luck —

A loser says, “Bad Luck” for losing

— even though it isn’t bad luck.

A winner knows how and when to say “Yes” and “No”

A loser says “Yes, but” and “Perhaps Not” at the wrong times, for the wrong reasons.

A winner isn’t nearly as afraid of losing as a loser is afraid of winning.

A winner works harder than a loser, and has more time.

A loser is always “Too Busy” to do what is necessary.

A winner goes through a problem.

A loser goes around it, and never gets past it.

A winner makes commitments.

A loser makes promises.

A winner shows he’s sorry by making up for it.

A loser says, “I’m sorry” but does the same thing the next time.

A winner knows what to fight for and what to compromise on.

A loser compromises on what he shouldn’t and fights for what isn’t worth fighting about.

A winner says, “I’m good, but not as good as I ought to be”

A loser says, “I’m not as bad as a lot of other people.”

A winner listens.

A loser just waits until it’s his turn to talk.

A winner would rather be admired than liked, although he would prefer both.

A loser would rather be liked than admired, and is even willing to pay the price of mild contempt for it.

A winner feels strong enough to be gentle.

A loser is never gentle –He is either weak or prettily tyrannous by turns.

A winner respects those who are superior to him, 
tries to learn something from them.

A loser resents those who are superior to him, and tries to find chinks in their armor.

A winner explains.

A loser explains away.

A winner feels responsible for more than his job.

A loser says, “I only work here.”

A winner says, “There ought to be a better way to do it.

A loser says, “That’s the way it’s always been done here.”

A winner paces himself.

A loser only has two speeds – Hysterical and Lethargic. 

– Author Unknown

No. Excuses. Period.

If you are a coach, you’ve probably heard it all before. If you are a player, there’s a good chance that you’ve spent more time than you should thinking of them. It’s in all of us…everyone has them. But only the toughest people can resist the ‘E’ word. I’ve always told all the players that I coach that their success in basketball is a choice. Either they choose the path of very hard work all the way to their success, or they can be lazy, or remain comfortable and content with mediocrity.

You determine how good you want to be. It’s not because the coach won’t give you enough playing time. It’s not because your ball-hogging teammate won’t ever pass you the ball. It’s not because your parents won’t support you. Your success in anything (not just basketball) is determined by the amount of EFFORT you put into your work. Effort is the ‘E’ word that you should be focusing on…not excuses. The effort that you put into your work is between only you and you. So, YOU are the only to blame if you are constantly coming up with excuses.

How many times have you come up with excuses for not practicing? How many excuses have you used for not wanting to go all out in practice or the games? Are you always giving 100% effort? Or are you coming up with excuses in your head, constantly searching for reasons not to give your FULL effort? Realize that I am not just talking about saying these excuses out loud to someone. The most deadliest excuses are the ones that just pop up in our head and linger. The ones that you just THINK about …those are the dream killers.

Don’t talk to Matt Scott about excuses. Matt Scott is a professional basketball player who never gave in to excuses. He had every reason in the world to give in and not give it his all. But people like Matt Scott never look for excuses for why they can’t or shouldn’t. Instead, successful people like Matt Scott are too busy trying to find out HOW they CAN and how they are going to JUST DO IT.

Click here for more information about Matt Scott.

Success: How bad do you ‘really’ want it?

I stumbled upon this video a few months ago and just filed it in my favorites folder.  It is one of my favorite videos on youtube.  If you have never heard this speech by motivational speaker Eric Thomas, you owe it to yourself to listen to it at least once (especially young people).  The creator of this video used clips of NBA stars going to work in their offseason workout sessions combining it with the audio from Eric Thomas’ speech.  It was very nicely done.  I believe all players should take a look at this one.


If you would like to see more of Eric Thomas’ work, you can visit his youtube page here.