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Basketball Mental Performance Consultant On Breaking Mental Barriers

Dr. Rainer J. Meisterjahn | Mental Performance Consultant | Founder of Courtex Performance

I think ultimately physical and mental practice always goes hand in hand. Too many athletes tend to rely on physical reps too much without even thinking about addressing the mental barriers that impede their performance from the practice court into a game situation.

Dr. Rainer J. Meisterjahn

Mental Performance Consultant

Founder of Courtex Performance

× The interview with Dr. Rainer J. Meisterjahn was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as a Basketball Mental Performance consultant.

I founded Courtex Performance in 2013 with the goal of changing the way mental training is perceived and executed in the basketball world. Since then, we’ve been able to develop unique programming and expand our staff.

In my role, every day looks a little different and typically consists of a combination of remote consulting, project and content development, business management, and networking. Since we work with players, coaches, and executives, my days are pretty variable and interesting.

While the pandemic has primarily kept me in the office, I usually travel a decent amount as well, whether it be to attend client games, consult with NBA teams on-site throughout the Pre-Draft period, or attend continued educational opportunities.

I suppose, in short, there is no “typical” day in this business, and I prefer it that way.

What is mental training and how does it affect athletic performance?

Mental training, in a nutshell, is strength and conditioning for the mind.

We take a proactive, systematic, and personalized approach to mental performance training in order to help our clients maximize their potential on and off the court.

While some of our clients might initially reach out to us for help with a performance issue like a lack of confidence while in a shooting slump, our goal always is to move to proactive, rather than reactive, training.

Ultimately, we assist our clients in building their core values and tangible actions to bring those core values to life so they can thrive in their 6 Cs:

  1. Commitment
  2. Concentration
  3. Confidence
  4. Competitiveness
  5. Composure
  6. Communication

Professional sports like basketball have finally begun their restart from the hiatus that took place due to Covid-19, however these leagues are being resumed in quarantine. How do you see this format affecting the mental performance of professional athletes such as NBA players?

There are definitely a few challenges that players are encountering during the return to play under these circumstances.

For one, being in the “bubble” can be draining in that it’s tough to get away from basketball and recover mentally and emotionally by focusing on other interests and relationships. I’m curious to see how that’ll play out for teams that have a long playoff run.

Secondly, on the court, playing without fans may pose a motivational challenge for some athletes, especially once the novelty of the situation starts wearing off.

Third, with some players opting out of playing and leaving the bubble to attend to family matters, there may not be as much stability and continuity as players are used to. But, on the flip side, a lot of athletes seem excited to have some sense of normalcy again and be able to compete and connect with teammates.

Ultimately, it’s honestly such a unique situation that each individual player has to figure out how to make sense of it for themselves and navigate it. That is why we focus so much on individuality and making sure mental performance training is tailored to each athlete because it’s very unique to each person and their specific situation.

How can mental coaching break barriers that practice cannot?

I think ultimately physical and mental practice always goes hand in hand. Too many athletes tend to rely on physical reps too much without even thinking about addressing the mental barriers that impede their performance from the practice court into game situation.

Mental performance training, for me, starts with gaining self-awareness of what’s getting in the way and then systematically building skills to address performance issues and proactively building mental skills for performance excellence.

For instance, once a player can identify negative thoughts and emotions that get in the way of skill execution, they can then integrate appropriate self-talk, focus cues, and physical relaxation techniques to help shift their focus in the right direction and allow their body to execute the skill naturally.

What kind of impact does your mental training have on coaches?

Mental training can help coaches in two ways:

  1. It can help them manage their own performance and,
  2. It can help them work more effectively with their athletes.

Most coaches, in my experience, can really benefit from defining their culture and figuring out daily action steps to bring their core values to life.

I’ve also spent a lot of time teaching coaches ways to better connect with their players in order to both teach and motivate them more effectively. Studying individual athlete personalities and motivations on a team is vital in creating good team chemistry and positive team culture.

It’s no secret that coaching, especially at the higher levels, is extremely stressful and requires mastery of certain mental skills that help maintain balance in and outside of the gym.

Stacey Leawood Stacey's Final Thoughts

Rainer Meisterjahn has had the opportunity over the past three and a half years to help build one of the best team cultures in the NBA for the Miami Heat franchise. NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler often talks about how after having difficulties with other teams that Miami was the perfect place for him to be himself and work in a very constructive and supportive environment. Rainer’s personalized approach to mental training for both players and coaches has allowed the studying of individual athlete personalities and motivations and has been vitally important to the solid team chemistry and the development of the young Heat team.

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