Next play: How much are kids working on their mental game during the summer

By Rich Winter

So, the other day I was playing pickle ball (similar to tennis, smaller court/whiffle ballish) with some buddies of mine. First game out, (Bob) and I were leading 6-2 (games to 11)…Bob, served a point, served another point and the other team questioned the score that should have been, 8-2…They wouldn’t concede to our argument, and despite a vehement protest, we served at 7-2, and lost the point.

And then we lost our minds.

The other team rattled off 9-consecutive points and won the first game, 11-7.

They won the next game 11-0…

And they were leading 4-0, before WE FINALLY scored again.

For those keeping track…The OTHER team rattled off 24 consecutive points.

Next Play: Can high-school athletes move on to the Next Play after an incident.


How many times do we see a player commit a frustration foul after a bad play?

How many times do we see a player get off to a bad start and then press when things aren’t going well?

Have you ever seen a basketball player who loses their mind after a referee makes a bad call?

Can an athlete improve their mentality?

How can an athlete recognize or think about their mentality, during the ‘losing your mind’ moment?

Was kind of thinking about some of the advantages today’s kids have in terms of seeing themselves on tape. With all of the games being live-streamed these days, and cell-phones a click away, Kids that take time to ‘Study’ game film have a real opportunity to improve small facets of just seeing what they did and thinking about what they could have done.

As I cruise through life one of the things I notice, is like me, there are a lot of classic over-thinkers out there.

In the middle of the 24-0 run, I lost my mind.

Every point that went into the net, or a serve that was out continued to make me lose my mind. Every time I got to the net I tried to make a great play and forgot all about making the right play. Eventually, I started to focus on footwork and fundamentals….I slowed down my breathing down, gathered that I was not moving enough and started to play well again

During this summer of AAU basketball, I believe some of our AAU players should think about their mentality throughout the game.

  • Are you mentally into the game when your not playing.

  • How are you handling adversity

  • What does your game look like when you are pressing

  • How do you respond when a negative or non call doesn’t go your way

  • Does your mind speed up or slow down when things aren’t going your way

  • If I’m not shooting well, should I keep shooting or find other ways to get the offense going?

  • Are you immediately able to move onto the ‘Next Play’

Wanted to share a Next-Play analysis with Sacred Hoops readers

Carl Dean Bizardie is the father of Todd County senior Aiden Bizardie. Before his passing, Bizardie made the phrase ‘Next Play’ famous among the Little League Baseball players in Mission. Carl had a gigantic effect on resurrecting baseball in Mission, and is kind of the father of the ‘Mission Mayhem’ baseball programs.

Where there was no baseball, now there are teams all the way from t-ball to Legion.

At any rate, Bizardie coached a ton of young people playing baseball….Little guys and girls.

Bizardie had the ability to help his players move forward after a bad play.

If they missed a grounder, Bizardie would say, “Let it go, next play.”

Just that little positive reminder after a bad play, delivered with confidence in a gentle manner, absolutely changed the mindsets of a ton of young people.

Those words….NEXT PLAY are really fundamental building blocks of a good student/athlete/adult.

Sacred Hoops Director Allan Bertram talks about this all the time, letting go of that negative energy and having a positive mindset. It is crucial to not get down, to not play below your capabilities and to trust the ‘work’ and training that has been put in when things aren’t going perfectly!