In school sports athletes are sometimes put in positions which are new to them. They have been playing among peers for a long time, become comfortable, and then they move up to a new level of play. Some athletes love change and the challenges associated with it. Other athletes, however, have a comfort zone and would rather stay with something more familiar.

I’ve been working with a 14y/o basketball player, Tom, on rebuilding his confidence. While at a small private middle school he was the star player. He knew he was better than his teammates. He gained a lot of confidence, leadership skills, and popularity among his friends.

Transitioning into high school, and freshman basketball, caught him off guard. Suddenly he wasn’t the star anymore. There were other players better than him. Young naturally talented athletes experience this phenomenon, losing confidence as they start competing against other talented athletes. The skill set for dealing with adversity hadn’t developed because it has always been relatively effortless up until now.

Tom was unprepared for having to earn his spot on the junior varsity team. Making the B team surprised him since he had always been a star player. His shaken confidence began to affect his game. Instead of shooting well, Tom started to hesitate wondering whether he ought to take the shot. His momentary doubt slowed him down contributing to missed opportunities. Basketball stopped being fun.

Tom was motivated to regain his confidence, get his head back in the game and have fun again. So our work focused on the blocks he was having, clearing the clutter and reclaiming his “old self.”

Using EFT we focused on his fears. Fear of disappointing his teammates, his coach and his parents. Fear of making a mistake. To be really effective meant narrowing the focus. A couple more questions led to fear of having someone steal the ball from him when dribbling. We got even more specific. Tom recognized it was primarily dribbling with his left hand since he was right handed.

When Tom imagined dribbling the ball with his left hand he reported a fear of losing the ball. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most intense, he rated the intensity of his fear as an 8. When asked where he felt it in his body, Tom stated his brain was giving him flashing warning signals to get the ball to his right hand.

A specific area of focus centered on his thoughts of losing the ball.

• I am not a left hand dribbler
• Dribbling with my left hand feels weird
• My left hand doesn’t have a good touch with the ball
• Someone can easily steal the ball from me.

Since I like to turn a negative into a positive we reframed his fearful thoughts to “I can dribble with ease and confidence.”

• I easily dribble with my left hand
• Dribbling with my left hand is a skill I am ready to master
• I am becoming more familiar with the touch of the ball in my left hand
• I’m really good dribbling with my right and my left hand
• I am guarding the ball with ease.

Tom’s intensity had reduced from an 8 to a 2.

Next Tom was instructed to think about a basketball player he admires who is an excellent dribbler. With this round of tapping Tom visualized his favorite player giving him a private lesson on dribbling the basketball with his left hand. He was instructed to keep his eyes on the court, and to avoid looking down. While we continued tapping he observed this player showing him how to dribble the ball left handed up and down the court. Next Tom “saw” himself dribbling on the court. During the visualization process, and while still tapping, he got some pointers from his mentor, made some corrections and practiced his dribbling once more on the court. His mentor gave him some high fives, said he looked really good. Then I had Tom stop tapping, take in a deep breath and reassess his level of intensity.

Tom was at a “0” reporting he felt more confident about his left handed dribbling. We tested to make sure he was truly at a 0 with no remaining fear about left handed dribbling.
The approach of visualizing himself working with a mentor is an important step for Tom. Although he is only 14y/o he is learning to self-coach. In any sport there are times when the coach is unable to give an athlete direction. The ability to self coach at these moments is critical.

Learning this skill has helped Tom to gain confidence, and respond quickly on the court.

More importantly, playing basketball has become fun once again.

Author's Bio: 

Follow Loren Fogelman during the sports mindset moment giving you tips for winning results through improved focus and confidence. Too often athletes are caught off guard and miss a BIG opportunity. Continuing to blame yourself shatters confidence. Interested in knowing how to turn it around? I’ll show you in this video. Receive your FREE Starter Kit "Top 7 Mistakes Even the Best Athletes Make." by going now to