Next Play Mentality

Posted on January 12, 2021 by Matt Lehmann

You made a mistake in a game, what is your next reaction as a player? Do you hang your head, jog back to the other end, complain to the ref, or show frustration (palms to the ceiling, punch the air)? One of the hardest things for any athlete is to move forward and focus on the next right play.

The concept of next play mentality is simple; don’t let one mistake affect how you play for the remainder of the game. If there are 70 possessions in a game, there are going to be a lot of mistakes or lapses, resulting in either a score or a defensive stop. If you commit a turnover on offense, don’t let that one mistake lead to a quick score in transition because you didn’t sprint back on defense. Basketball is unique in the sense that it is a fast paced and continuous game. There is no time to think or worry about the missed shot or bad pass. The difference between a winning and losing effort may come down to who has a better response. Not dwelling on the past but playing in the moment.

There is a time and place to correct and deal with a bad play or possession, but in the middle of the game is not one of them. If it is misunderstanding a play or coverage, wait for a timeout or stoppage in play to regroup and talk to a coach. Postgame, on the car ride home, talk about what you saw or what gave you problems during the game. Even If you’re having an off night, focus on what you can control. Continue to lead with positive body language, communication, effort, and a next play mindset. Relax and play basketball.

I challenge you to see how fast you can move on to the next right play. It’s not about the turnover you committed or the made three to tie the game, what’s next. Watch this clip and notice whether it’s a scoring play or turnover how quickly Michael Jordan transitions back into making winning plays for his team. He scores at the rim, and immediately turns, sprints back on defense to get a steal. When he starts attacking, the ball gets stolen from him. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he sprints back to prevent an easy layup on the other end. Jordan moves on to the next play. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan