Psychology of the NBA Finals: Game 4

Team-first basketball has given the Spurs a 3-1 series lead.

Team-first basketball has given the Spurs a 3-1 series lead.

San Antonio took Game 3 in dramatic fashion to lead the series 2-1. They hit 19 of their first 21 shots, they scored 41 in the 1st quarter, and they had 71 by half-time! It was always an uphill struggle for the Heat, but the Spurs won by being aggressive and doing their thing, especially Kawhi Leonard who had an outstanding game (career high 29 points) after a relatively quite Game 1 and Game 2.

So, how did the Heat make adjustments? Did Mario Chalmers decide to do something… anything? I predicted that the Heat would respond with a BIG game, that they would be the more aggressive team in Game 4, and that they would do their thing to get back into the series: Swarming defence, steals, fast break points… I could not have been more wrong.

Psychology of the NBA Finals: Game 3

The series was tied 1-1 going into Game 3 in Miami. The Spurs had managed to do a better job of not being distracted by the literally uncontrollable temperature in Game 1, and Danny Green came through with some Short Memory Shooting in the 4th quarter. In Game 2, another uncontrollable factor, the referees, left both teams struggling to find their rhythm early on and it was the Heat this time, that did the better job of refocusing quickly after bad calls. So what were the key themes of Game 3?

Psychology of the NBA Finals: Game 2

Everyone loves these guys!

Everyone loves these guys!

Keeping Cool

If the theme of Game 1 was ‘beating the heat’, the theme of Game 2 was definitely ‘keeping cool’.  But this time, it wasn’t a broken air conditioning system that was causing players’ temperatures to rise. It was another one of those damn uncontrollables – the refs.

Every player knows that the refs won’t call two games in exactly the same way. No matter what the sport, while referees aim for consistency, you just know that some days you’re gonna get calls, some days you’re not. It was clear from the start that the referees had made an adjustment from Game 1 and were allowing much more contact in Game 2.

Psychology of the NBA Finals: One game at a time.

I Love This Game!

I Love This Game!

It’s been a while since my last post on here. I’ve been largely trying to avoid the internet while the NBA Playoffs have been happening. People seem unable to resist posting results on social media sites and, since I can no longer stay up until 5am and function adequately the next day, I’ve been recording games to watch when I get home from work the following day.

Even though I’m not watching the games live, I can still obviously influence the result by shouting at the TV, so knowing the results essentially ruins watching sports… and spending a whole day in a Sports Department and NOT finding out sporting results is not easy.

Anyway, that’s why I’ve been “off the internet” for a while, but I’m back now, and what an NBA Final Series we have this year! I’m not a Spurs fan as such, but I’m a fan of the way they play basketball… the right way. They were literally inches from winning the Finals last year, so I was really pleased to see them make their way back there this year, and loved the way their unselfish, team basketball, got them past the one-on-one, never-going-to-be-successful, even-Jordan-passed-the-ball-sometimes, nightmare that is the OKC Thunder.

Burnout in youth sport: Part 3 – Prevention is better than cure

How do we keep all of our young matches lit? ... That doesn't really work as a metaphor.

How do we keep all of our young matches lit? … That doesn’t really work as a metaphor.

In part one of this series of three blog posts, we looked at the characteristics of burnout. In part two, we explored various explanations for burnout, including stress, feeling trapped, lack of motivation, and the culture of performance sport. Here in part three, we’ll think about what we can do to reduce the chances of our young athletes burning out and maybe leaving sport behind.

Burnout in youth sport: Part 2 – Here comes the science part.

Quitting sport isn't the same as burnout, but it's a potential consequence!

Quitting sport isn’t the same as burnout, but it’s a potential consequence!

In part one of this three-part post on burnout in youth sport, we talked about what exactly burnout is. Essentially, long lasting feelings of emotional and physical exhaustion, sport devaluation (not getting anything out it anymore) and reduced personal accomplishment (no sense of achievement). Here in part two, we’ll explore briefly explain some of the theories as to how and why burnout occurs.

Burnout in youth sport: Part 1 – What is burnout?

We’ve all had times when we’re feeling a bit tired and lacking motivation, when we don’t really feel like practicing or training, or when something we usually enjoy doing seems like a bit of a chore. More often than not, once we remind ourselves that we actually love what we do, or even take a few days off, we can get on with it and get back to enjoying our sport.

burnout_syndrom

What exactly is burnout? …Is this picture even relevant? …So many questions.

But sometimes that feeling can last a bit longer and feel that little bit more intense. I’m sure the coaches reading this can think of young athletes that display those characteristics. Maybe you’re the parent of a kid who’s lost interest in sport. Perhaps they’re experiencing burnout, but what exactly is burnout? What causes it? And what can we do to stop our young athletes from burning out and quitting before they’ve even got going?

This three-part post is going to address those questions. I’ll try to answer the first one here, and then see about the others in part two and part three.

Mental Mind Psych Guru Experts – What do they do then?

Ok, so this is an easy one. A while ago, the news at large announced that Roy Hodgson, (at the time, manager of the England football) team was considering using a Sport Psychologist ahead of the World Cup to boost England’s chances of not bowing out of yet another tournament on penalties. 

As a Newcastle supporter, I'm a big fan of Chris Waddle, but that 'pelanty' just reached the edge of our solar system.

As a Newcastle supporter, I’m a big fan of Chris Waddle, but that ‘pelanty’ just reached the edge of our solar system.

If you’re not familiar with England’s penalty woes (Or ‘pelanty’ woes if you’re Chris Waddle) they’ve lost penalty shootouts at World Cup 1990, Euro ’96, World Cup ’98, Euro ’04, World Cup ’06, and Euro 2012.  It has to be said, that’s a pretty spectacular record.

So yeah, get a psychologist in to help England with their penalty problems. Seems reasonable… well, sort of. There are a couple of things here that don’t quite sit well, but I haven’t really thought this through and I can’t figure out which is most important so I’m just going to do this in a random order, mkay?

Goal Setting is easy, right? Here are five reasons why goal setting doesn’t work.

Most… probably all athletes who’ve achieved anything approaching success will have set goals along the way. There are a couple of theories as to how and why goal setting works.

Sound advice.

Sound advice.

One, called the Direct Mechanistic view¹, explains that goals direct your attention onto the task at hand, encourage persistence and motivation, and can even help you to develop new strategies for achieving what you’ve set out to achieve.

“Put me back in, Coach!” – Psychological responses to sports injury

If you’re a basketball fan like me, you’ll be eagerly awaiting the return of the Chicago Bulls’ explosive point guard, Derrick Rose.  Rose missed the whole of the 2012-13 NBA season after suffering a torn ACL the previous year, and a few months ago, I wrote a piece about him and some of the psychological factors that should be taken into account during an athlete’s return to play following injury. You can read it here if you like. It’s not bad.

There are psychological as well as physical consequences of sports injuries.

There are psychological as well as physical consequences of sports injuries.

But one thing that I glossed over was the psychological impact that injuries can have on athletes, and the ways in which they attempt to cope with these often stressful, sometimes traumatic, events. So in this post, I’m going to try to summarise some of the ways that athletes respond to injury

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