In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, former NBA coach and Co-founder of ChampionShift Bret Burchard joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss helping athletes and coaches remove distractions and relax under pressure.
Bret Burchard is the co-founder of the mindset development company ChampionShift and co-author of “Catching Confetti: Developing the mindset of a champion.” For the last 10 seasons he has worked with the Phoenix Suns in various roles, most recently as a development coach and the head coach of their G league team.
Buchard began his coaching career as an assistant coach for his college, Taylor University. In 2010, he began working for the Phoenix Suns organization. In the middle of the 2017 season, he was promoted to the Phoenix Suns after the firing of the coaching staff. On July 25, 2018 he was named the head coach of the Northern Arizona Suns after serving as the associate head coach of the team.
“I was moving . . into more player development . . and I found that something was missing. There was a piece that wasn’t being talked about and wasn’t being addressed. It was kind of being left up to chance and that was the mental side of the game.”
“We did all this training and practice in an empty gym, but now when the lights come on, how do we make those skills and all that training pay off when the pressure is the highest?”
“It’s fine tuning, it’s developing and it’s just part of the whole process. Just like you develop your shot, just like you develop your defensive system, just like you develop your team chemistry, well, let’s develop our mind states as well.”
“Where we start with all of our programming . . is this ability to separate who you are from the results of your competition or the results of your performance and to separate who you are from the community or relationships.”
“Relaxed intensity is the ultimate mindset and this is where all the seven mindsets will lead to. I think this is our best performance state.”
“I think we fall into this cop out that either you’ve got it or you don’t. And then we tell them [the players], ‘Hey, you’ve got to have mental toughness.’ We never tell them how to get there or help them get there.”
“I think what happens is once we find out where we’re good and where we’re not, we’re going to spend all of our energy and all of our focus on where we’re good . . You can develop all the different mindsets and improve the ones you’re not good at but still lean on and use the things that you’re really good at.”
“We say this, ‘The beginner just seeks validation. The pro needs optimal conditions to perform. The master can perform in any conditions.’ And so, the amount of practice and skill building that you do on your mindset can move you to master level where, regardless of the conditions, I’ll be able to find my optimal performance state.”
“Why are they [action adventure athletes] breaking records at astronomical rates compared to any other sport? It’s because they train in flow. And when you train in flow, your brain is going to wire around these experiences, it’s going to accelerate what you learn . . So, being able to get into flow state while you practice . . is just going to accelerate your learning.”
“I think if you can create that balance of a safe environment that allows them to be vulnerable, to try new things, but also stressful enough that it brings their full attention to it . . you’re going to be able to tap into some flow states there.”
“Players will . . harass their teammates for making mistakes or some of their weaknesses . . [we are] trying to cut off that communication [among] your players . . it’s an encouraging environment . . we’re all here to grow. We’re all here to experiment and learn and try new things, so we want you to be in places that you might fail.”
“If you can say and make them experience or feel that I belong, even though I messed up; I’m good enough, even though I’m not good at this particular skill set yet. If you can calm those anxieties you’re going to find you’re going to help usher them into a relaxed mindset.”
“There’s a little bit of a distinction there . . I’m not going to be a victim and just let bad things happen to me. But I am going to cooperate with what’s unfolding in front of me and I’m going to cooperate in a way that I can meet the moment where it’s at, with what it needs and with what I have.”
“You’re going to constantly be growing and being shaped by the experiences, but how you interpret those experiences and how you respond to those experiences makes all the difference.”
“Kobe Bryant described losing as exciting because it showed him places that he could get better . . if you’re constantly pushing yourself to the edges of your abilities, then you’re going to find places you’re weak.”
“Maturity is not that you never fail . . never get knocked off balance, maturity is how quickly do you recognize it? And how is your ability to re-center? How is your ability to get back on track . . to re-find flow.”
“For me, the role of the coach is you’re developing a person . . your players are not there to perform well so you can be validated. You’re there to serve them, not the other way around. So, the first role for the coach . . is to understand you’re developing people, not just basketball players.”
“What’s happening now in culture . . we take one marker of who we are and we make it all of who we are . . when who you are is defined by what you do you’re building a shaky foundation. What you need is the performance or results to go a certain way so I can be validated . . we want to flip the filter and view life through a secure identity first.”
“When we talk about developing a resilient mindset in a practice setting . . why are we not preparing ourselves for facing adversity?”
“The athletes and coaches who can perform under pressure don’t feel the pressure. Not because it’s this superhuman ability but it’s this understanding that who I am is not defined by what I do.”
“I think the leader is not the smartest person in the room, I think the leader is the most aware person in the room.”
“Comparison has the ability to degrade us. We’re constantly measuring ourselves against somebody else. But I think competition has the ability to grow us, it’s going to provide that stress that we need to find relaxed intensity. It’s also going to show us where we’re weak.”
“Flow follows struggle. When I ‘ve hit a point of resistance . . what I remind myself is flow is on the other side of that . . on the other side of your struggle is a beautiful breakthrough but you just have to keep going to experience it.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Physical Development Process
3:00 – Decision Making
7:00 – Different Mindsets to be Successful
9:30 – Relaxed Intensity
12:00 – What is Mindset All About
14:00 – Progressive Development
17:30 – Strength vs. Weaknesses
19:30 – Mindset Strength
23:00 – Integration
25:00 – Flow in Practice
28:00 – Creating Psychological Safety
31:00 – Mindset Development
36:30 – Role of Coach in Developing Mindset
40:00 – Challenges in Building Mindset
44:30 – Resilience
49:00 – Controlling Fear
53:00 – Moving in a Right Direction
56:00 – Competition vs Comparison
58:00 – Self-Reflection
1:00:00 – Conclusion
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