By Dylan Tehada
On Saturday, August 12th, Unlimited Potential Basketball hosted its first Mental Skills Camp brought to athletes by Sacramento Kings’ Mental Skills Coach and Palms Basketball’s Graham Betchart. Betchart has been a Mental Skills Coach for many years, working with NBA players such as Aaron Gordon and franchises such as the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. He continues to teach the importance of mental skills in sports through his business "Train the Mind" and book “Play Present.” We are very grateful for Betchart spreading his knowledge and leading our mental skills camp, and look forward to continue teaching the importance of mental skills on and off the court.
Basketball is a game of many fundamental and technical skills. However, in spite of the physical talent necessary to succeed in this sport, an even more crucial asset to have is a strong mentality. In order to help athletes realize that their potential is unlimited we seek to strike a balance between honing both their physical and psychological skills.
This Mental Skills Camp offered separate sessions for both athletes and their parents and/or coaches, so that they too could learn the importance of mental skills and how they can assist in their athletes’ basketball journeys. Joanne Rudolph, mother of John Rudolph, was one of the parents that attended the session last Saturday. She emphasized what this mental skills camp meant to both her and John and recognizes how the lessons taught by Betchart go beyond the game of basketball.
“I think it's really important that UPB is thinking about the athlete more than just their skills on the court. They're thinking about them now from a mental perspective to get them ready psychologically for a game,” Rudolph said “I actually think Graham did more than just help the kids think about basketball, these are life skills.”
Betchart has been spreading his knowledge of mental skills in sports for many years, and incorporates a lot of different exercises and techniques to help train the mind. One of his trademark techniques is to implement a “Palms Down” approach when facing adversity. Many athletes raise their palms when something doesn’t go their way or when they are frustrated, which is a sign of bad body language and can take a player out of the moment during a game.The palms down approach contradicts the universal sign of frustration by consciously choosing to face one’s palms to the ground as opposed to up in the air and is symbolic of how reacting to challenges is within one’s control.
The Palms Down method was one of many important and insightful lessons taught by Betchart at the mental skills camp this past Saturday. Rudolph recounted other helpful tips such as being aware of what is being talked about on the car ride home after a game and how to block out the noise from your peers that she seeks to implement with her son John.
In basketball and sports in general adversity and failure is inevitable. This is the reason having strong mental skills is important because it allows athletes to stay in the moment and control their emotions. As a mother of an aspiring athlete, Rudolph emphasizes the importance of mental skills in sports specifically and shares what she believes to be the key to success as an athlete.
“Focus. I think it's focus because there's so much noise especially in a game and there's so many mind games that people play…So much of it, I think is really a mindset. I think a lot of it is being able to focus on what you've been training and relying on your training,” Rudolph said.
While the responsibility of how to react to adversity is on the athlete’s shoulders, it is important for the parents of athletes to understand how they can help their kids with their athletic journey. During this mental skills camp, parents also took part in learning how they can assist and guide their children. Rudolph herself learned a great deal of Betchart and seeks not only to implement his teachings, but to be on the same page with her son John and what he is learning.
“Kids hear what the parents say. So if the parents are speaking in a different language, we're emphasizing different things. We're emphasizing the wrong things. I think we undo a lot of the work that UPB trainers do or what Graham has taught them, so I thought it was really important that we had that session with parents,” Rudolph said.
Here at UPB we stress the importance of mental skills because basketball is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one. In order to realize that one’s potential is unlimited, it is important to hone the mental skills necessary to overcome adversity and live in the present.
We strive to continue teaching the importance of mental skills in basketball and providing resources and techniques to hone psychological skills. It is important to us to incorporate this element of training the mind to our program because we understand how vital a mindset is in elevating an athlete’s game. Player Development Coach, Joey Hewitt, is committed to helping young athletes with the mental aspect of their game and seeks to share his insight and perspective. If you are interested in continuing to develop the mental skills necessary to thrive in the game of basketball, learn more about our virtual Mental Skills Training with Coach Joey!