Competitive Mindset

There are a lot of parents and coaches who ask “How can my player be more competitive?”  My answer always reminds them that it is a skillset and it can be developed.  They should know that not all players will have that competitive mindset from the beginning.  Similarly not all players can have a great jump short or ball handling, but they can develop it.


First let’s define what a competitive mindset is.  At Upside Athletics we define competitive mindset, as:


a player’s ability to use their skills and understanding of the game, in conjunction with an absolute drive to be better than other players and teams.

Here are a couple examples:

A shooter is encountering a defense who is not allowing them to get touches and opportunities to shoot.  The player then works hard to come off screens and move without the ball, to create openings when attacking and to find opportunities in transition, before the opposing defense can get set.  To develop this player, we work on a quicker release, in combination with footwork, to get set off physical contact.

While it seems simple to do, sports challenge players and test them.  When I’m watching games I can see who has “it” and who doesn’t by how they compete from beginning to end.

How Upside Athletics develops a competitive mindset:


EDUCATION – When we do a drill, or introduce a skill, we have an emphasis on the “how” and “why” we’re doing it so players can use it in game situations.  It is very important that we don’t just do drills well, but that the skills translate directly to games.
STRESS DRILLS – Stress drills are meant to have the player experience anxiety, pressure, and frustration.  A couple ways to induce stress is add time (make x number of shots in 1 minute), noise (whistles, banging chairs, music), and conditioning (physical fatigue will test mental fatigue).  As with any drill, it is important to teach players how to complete the drill better by managing the stress better.  I will have more on these drills in a later post.


CONDITIONING – As stated above, physical fatigue often leads to mental fatigue.  There are very few ways to push yourself, and find that you’re capable of more than you think, better than conditioning.  Many hate it, but those who want to compete will enjoy beating their time and reps.
GOALS/BENCHMARKS – Set goals and achieve them.  Make every shot count while also empowering players to believe in their ability.  Make 4 out of 5, make it clean (swish), make x number in a row.  If a player is to compete, they need to know they can achieve an outcome.


Upside asked players the question:
You have 1 shot to win the game, where do you shoot it and how do you get there?  Players who have a competitive mindset know exactly what they will do.


A team with more players who have a competitive mindset will defeat teams with more talent.  Emphasize and teach your team. Find out how Upside Athletics can help by emailing  Follow us on twitter for more information and thoughts.

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