It’s March, which means March Madness. Basketball fans wait all year for the big NCAA tournament, filling out brackets to decide how far each of the 68 teams will make it, and which team will be the champion. This year’s tournament has already been full of upsets, with lower ranked teams beating higher ranked teams, teams with more experience advancing in the tournament and playing under that kind of pressure. One particular upset was No. 7 seed South Carolina knocking out No. 2 seed Duke 88-81. South Carolina went into the half down by 7 points, with an abysmal field goal percentage.
South Carolina player, Sindarius Thornwell, said, “When you shoot 7 for 35 in the first half and you’re down just 7 points, I tell you, it just gives you confidence… We thought we could win the game coming out the second half…”.
This is the mentality of a winning team. Rather than focusing on missed shots and missed opportunities, the team seemed to focus on the fact that even without playing their best, they were still in it. While some (well, many) of their shots weren’t falling in the first half, their scrappy and tenacious play allowed them to feel confident going into the second half; if they could still be in contention with such a poor showing from the field, imagine what they could do if the shots starting falling.
There are many things players cannot control in the game of basketball, but they can control what they choose to focus on. Spending your time at the half focusing on what you’re doing well and the potential you have if you make some improvements will help you feel confident. This confidence will lead to enhanced focus, increased effort, smart risk-taking, and ultimately, better performance.