Basketball is very much a game of skill and athleticism, and in many games these two factors dictate who wins the game.
But what happens when there isn't a gap here?
What happens when the best players in an age group come together?
The interesting part is that some of the players get worse, initially, and some of the players shine through.
Not because of better skills or being more athletic than the person guarding them. It's not that.
Now we get to really see what a players mental abilities are like.
Decision making ability and speed becomes a HUGE factor, and I'm not just talking your on ball reads. When to cut, when to space, when to set an on ball, when to set an off ball etc. Quite often players will get stuck on a drive or miss open shooters, not because they didn't see them, but they simply didn't make a decision in time for a successful action.
Finally is their ability to listen. Often when these type of games happen you haven't had much contact time with the Coach, so coach will be doing alot more in game coaching that they would for a regular team.
As a player can you listen and learn whilst in the back and forth of a game?
Can you listen the feedback and action it correctly?
These are mental skills that players have been working on since they were babies, yet the ability to actively use them correctly with speed is something that must be honed.
The players that have matured these skills early are the ones that stand out from the start, most of the other players, with the guidance of the coaches, catch up with time.
These are the skills that can separate the great from the good.
Lots of players invest alot of time into developing their physical skills, the best players find ways to work on these mental skills aswell.
How are you going to work on yours?