In the middle of a losing season? Losing is extremely disappointing, but as many of this year's NBA rookies are finding out, it can also become contagious. Last week, Jimmer Fredette, the Sacramento Kings' 2011 first-round draft pick, spoke about the challenges of staying mentally tough through a difficult season (the Kings are currently 11-22).
"You've just got to instill a winning attitude within the team. Everybody's got to have it," Fredette said. "You can't have a losing mentality even though you're on a losing team. That's something I think that guys can fall into... That's something I try not to get used to. You always stay mad. You always stay ready to go so you can try to keep winning basketball games."
Instead of trying to change his team through words, Fredette is leading by example. After practice, he spends extra time on the court and in the weight room, even though his team is nowhere near the playoff hunt. Sport psychologists would say that Fredette is improving attitude through behavior, an important step in building mental toughness.
"I can't get complacent,'' Fredette said. "I have to go out and continue to improve and work. You can't just live off of what other people say. You've got to show it yourself and make them a believer. That's what I have to do now.''
Teams going through losing streaks often struggle against complacency. As the losses pile up, each player must choose whether he or she will keep working to improve or just start looking toward next season.
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