Rising Above the Rim: How Mental Training Can Help You Score Big in Basketball

Unleash The Inner Player That You Truly Are

The mind is now an enormous factor in basketball at the elite level - every bit as important as flawless passes, intercepts, shooting and speed - because it controls everything you do on court.  

This is Why Basketball Players Who Perform Better Under Pressure are Mentally Tough. And it Makes a Massive Difference To Your Results On Court.

Working at the mental level with players showed me that advanced basketball allows little time for conscious thought, during the heat of a game - as so many thoughts and actions are performed via auto-pilot, muscle-memory and experience. 

Great players know their talent and on-court magic comes instinctively - from deep inside - because the subconscious controls everything they do on court.

When your mind is working for you, its all there, instinctively - belief, confidence, consistency, focus, and sharper on-court skills - brilliant passing, intercepts, shooting, intuitive rapid movement, anticipation, etc.

This is where all the magic come from. Regardless of the position you play, what day it is, the venue you are at, the team you are playing - your subconscious controls it all. This is why looking into developing your mind skills is a massive new way to not only improve - but improve fast.

Peak Performance on Court

There are times on court when you feel you simply cant do a thing wrong - everything works for you. This is when your mind has clicked into "The Zone" - the optimum mental state for basketball performance.

When you are in the zone, everything on court flows instinctively - everything you try comes off, you feel like you "cannot miss".

You become high voltage, pure electricity on court - transforming into the best possible version of yourself on court. In this mental state, the more pressure you are under, the better you become. You become a turbo-charged warrior on court, with explosive acceleration, unstoppable aggression, and often displaying levels of skill higher than any previous performances.

This is a time when your movements become stronger, faster, more automatic, energized, creative, confident and accurate, often with automatic free throws, incredible block rate, and scoring on all opposing players, regardless of their size and athleticism.

One of the most powerful ways of accessing your body's 'control center' is using visualisation.  This involves regularly and realistically picturing in your mind the exact way you want to perform on court.    When used correctly, visualisation has consistently shown to bring major improvement to any area of on-court performance. 

  Keys to Success

Steph Curry used visualisation his entire playing life - from the age of 2 he played playing imaginary mental games about being a champion - including his grandmother actually playing the role of commentator.

By the time he was ready to play - his mind was primed and ready to go.

Top Players Use the Power of the Mind

• Michael Jordan - considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and he used a variety of mental training techniques to help him succeed on the court.

• Kobe Bryant - another all-time great, used visualization and meditation to help him stay focused and in control on the court.

• LeBron James - a four-time NBA champion and four-time MVP, is another who used visualization techniques to prepare for games, and he also works with a sports psychologist to manage his emotions.

• Stephen Curry - a two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion, used techniques to help him stay focused and in control, and to prepare for games, and also works with a mental skills coach.

• Diana Taurasi - one of the greatest women's basketball players of all time, uses the mind to help her stay focused and confident, with visualization and positive self-talk, and also works with a sports psychologist.

• Kevin Durant - The Brooklyn Nets superstar has spoken about his use of mental training techniques, such as visualization and positive self-talk, to stay focused and motivated on the court.

• Kawhi Leonard - The Los Angeles Clippers superstar is known for his intense mental preparation and focus. He uses visualization and other mental training techniques to stay calm and focused during games.

• Damian Lillard - The Portland Trail Blazers superstar has spoken about his use of mental training techniques, such as visualization and meditation, to stay focused and motivated on the court.

And Head Coaches Who Also Believe In Mind Preparation
(combined intel from leaders of Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers & Duke University..)

• Phil Jackson - a pioneer in the use of mind training in basketball.

• Gregg Popovich - known for his emphasis on mental preparation, focus, mindfulness and other techniques.

• Steve Kerr - encouraged his players to practice imagery and other methods.

• Erik Spoelstra - known for his emphasis on mind preparation and attention to detail, and teaching resilience.

• Doc Rivers - encouraged various types of inner preparation and focus in his players.

• Mike Krzyzewski - had an emphasis on developing mental resilience and deep inner focus.

So you're in great company! Of course, it is all scientifically tested, as well...

Basketball brain

Scientific Testing of Mental Training

Visualisation was even scientifically tested on basketballers at the University of Chicago.  In the study, players were tested on their free-throw ability, and then randomly placed in one of three groups. The first group practiced shooting free throws for an hour each day.

The second group visualized shooting free throws daily (no actual physical practice at all), while the third group didn’t practice at all.   After 30 days, all three groups took another free throw skill test - the players in the group that had practiced daily improved by 24 percent.

The players in the group that hadn’t practiced, did not improve.

But the third group those who had only 'visualized' their training, improved by 23 percent - virtually the same as those who had physically practiced! 

Needless to say, by using BOTH visualisation AND physical practice - improvement is extremely rapid.

This demonstrates just how powerfully mental training can influence your play on-court. Once a player realises how much difference it makes, they rarely ever stop using it.

Which makes a lot of sense - why would anyone stop using something which creates a secret advantage - which their opponents know nothing about, and can do nothing about?


There are very few elite players in the world who are not using various forms of mental training. And that not just basketball - that includes champions from all sports, around the world.

So when you add mental training to your physical training, such as using powerful techniques like visualisation - it helps you to break through the barriers and move to the next level.

As well as helping you to perform at your peak - it is also the very thing that allows you to tough out and come through the difficult times, and to bounce back from the slumps, better and stronger.

The only sure way to ensure ongoing and consistent, day-in day-out success on court is to ensure you also train at your body's control-center, your subconscious mind. 

See below for more information and my mind-training audio products.

  play audio file


Audio - 'The Power of Visualization & Belief'
- Craig Townsend explains how these transform performance.

Click the 'Play' symbol to start the audio.






Being such a high-pressure sport with such physical demands, generally most players overlook the role of mental preparation - which is why it provides such a crucial advantage to those who use it.

The benefits can make enormously positive changes not only on court, but in your life.

Handling Those Toughest Moments on Court

Maintaining focus and confidence in high-pressure situations is one of the biggest challenges. Re-programming the subconscious mind to eliminate negative thoughts and self-doubt, and replace them with positive affirmations and visualization techniques, allows you to enjoy the challenge of these situations. 

Visualization techniques allow you to imagine executing various different plays successfully, which can be especially helpful during high-stress moments in the game, such as shooting free-throws or making a crucial steal.

Reducing Stress and Anxiety - Both on Court, and in Your Life

Players tend to be under a great deal of stress and pressure, not just during games but often also in their personal lives, so overall mental wellbeing, and being able to cope with daily life is another big piece of the jigsaw puzzle to creating ongoing success.

Relaxation techniques and visualization exercises can be used before games to help relax and focus, without getting caught up in the urgency of the upcoming task.

Players tend to look at every possible avenue of improvement before they reach the idea of training their mind, before ultimately realizing they can improve all these aspects below all at the same time - by working at the body's control center.

They work on their techniques for shooting, passing, dribbling, and rebounding, and sometimes playing different positions, such as point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.

They look at improving footwork, agility, and their quickness through drills and exercises, while enhancing reaction times and decision-making skills through drills and exercises.

They may even incorporate post-game analysis to identify areas for improvement, as well as studying different plays and strategies for offense and defense.

Then there is improving fitness and strength through weightlifting and conditioning exercises, working on endurance and stamina through cardiovascular training - as well as doing video analysis of their game, and watching the pros closely.

Communication, analyzing team strategies, improving execution and decision-making, getting opinions and guidance from experienced coaches or players.. you name it, they try it - and much of it helps them to reach this point.

As all this usually happens before they finally reach the point where they realise their mind - which has total and ultimate control over all these things - just might be the place they need to focus on next.

As the old saying goes - "when the student is ready the teacher appears".   And once they reach this realization - it is usually a very good decision.