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Chasing Your Dreams In The Face Of Fear

Basketball is Psychology XXXII

“We never need to be pushed by our problems, but led by our dreams.” -Roy Williams


What is your dream?

Maybe it’s becoming a professional basketball player or winning a national championship. No matter what it is, the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of you achieving those dreams is likely fear. If your dreams scare you, it’s a good sign they’re big and worth pursuing, but fear can cause us to stop pursuing our dreams.

What is your biggest fear?

For most people it’s failure, losing, making mistakes, rejection, or that all of their hard work won’t pay off.

The most pernicious emotion

Fear is the anticipation that something is about to occur and it’s going to be terrible. Fear paralyzes us, steals our joy, our hope for the future, robs us of the present moment, and tricks us into staying in our comfort zones and living a boring life.

Fear can keep us from going all-in on our dreams because if we go all-in, we know failing will ache even more, so we hold back because of fear. A lot of players are scared to give all of their time and effort into something that isn’t guaranteed, and as a result, everything is done half-heartedly. Half-hearted effort leads to minimal results.

Fear keeps you from playing at your best and from playing in the moment. When we get stressed in a basketball game, we’re thinking about our fear of what could go wrong. It’s a lot harder to be stressed out when you’re focused on the moment.

It’s easy to be at peace when you’re hoisting the championship trophy, but that doesn’t last, more often than not, basketball has us on a roller coaster of emotions. No one goes through their basketball career without losses and adversity, and no matter what level you get to, those uncertainties are going to continue.

When you’re not playing well, injured, or on a losing streak, it seems impossible to play confidently and keep moving the direction of your dreams. We think that if we can just win this game, score this many points, or play at a certain level, then it will be smooth sailing, but that is not the case. Fear and uncertainty are everywhere. At some point, every human being has struggled with fear, but it isn’t talked about, so we don’t know how to deal with it. Basketball players are not immune to fear.

Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest of all times, noted this when asked about his own struggles with fears and insecurities, “It’s easy for us as people to kind of ignore the emotional side of it, especially when it comes to things that deal with negativity, things that deal with insecurity, things that deal with fear. It’s very easy to take that fear and just push it down, try to act like it doesn’t exist.”

Fear does exist, and if you are dealing with fear, you are not alone.

Give The Power To Your Hopes and Dreams, Not Your Fears

We have a habit of spending a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong; what will happen if we lose, if our plans don’t work, or if we miss a shot.

The simple science is, whatever you’re thinking about the most, is most likely to occur.

If you get the opportunity to shoot the game winner and you’re thinking about what will happen if you miss, you’re a lot more likely to miss.

If you want to perform at your best, fear can’t be the most prominent thought. Your actions subconsciously follow your conscious thoughts. Think about swishing the shot, think about winning, think about succeeding.

If you have dreams of being a great basketball player, you can’t focus on fear. The more you think about fear, the more power you give fear in your life. The good news is your dreams work the same way. When you focus on your dreams, on what could go right, you give your dreams more power than your fears.

Hope And Fear Are Contagious

Both fear and dreams are contagious. As a leader on your team, you need to understand how contagious fear and hope are. Kobe Bryant knew this better than anyone, he said, “If I panic, everyone else panics.” He kept his composure in the face of fear because he knew his team would follow.

After winning the 2019 NBA championship, in the postgame press conference, Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse talked about Kawhi Leonard’s impact. He talked about how not only was Kawhi capable of getting them a bucket whenever they needed one, but his mentality is what really impacted them. He came in with a championship mentality, he had a dream of winning a championship, and he behaved accordingly. His fearless championship mentality spread throughout the team. Everyone bought in to his dream of winning a championship and that dream became a reality.

Kawhi could’ve given fear the power. No one would’ve faulted Kawhi for underperforming in his first season after injury. This was Kawhi’s first season with the Raptors who had a first year head coach. He was living in a new city and even in a new country. Needless to say, this situation was full of uncertainty, but Kawhi gave his dreams the power, he a championship mentality.

Courageous people encounter the same doubt, uncertainty, and fear; they just give their dreams more power. Move past your fears by focusing on your dreams.

Action Steps:

Focus on what you can control: this moment.

Fear will take all of your energy if you’re spending all of your time worrying about things that may never happen, that you have no control over. What is your thought process like when you’re experiencing fear in a game? You’re probably thinking about the future- what it would be like if you miss. The problem is, you can’t control the future, you can only control right now. Focus on playing in this moment to the best of your ability. If you’ve lost your confidence, you’re probably thinking about how things have gone wrong in the past. Bring your mind back to right now, it’s the only point in time you have control over.

Be driven by your dreams, not your fears.

Our actions are either being fueled by our dreams or fear. Make sure you are being led by your dreams not pushed by your fears. Being motivated by fear is a quick way to burnout, be motivated by your dreams. Spend more time thinking about your dreams than your fears, you see more of what you focus on.


Written by Julie Fournier


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