It was like clockwork; my palms would sweat, my stomach would cramp so bad I felt sick, my heart would race out of control to the point I couldn’t even hear, I couldn’t even think straight. Butterflies. Everything that I had been conditioned to believe was that those feelings meant I was nervous and that I was so unprepared that I never wanted the game to start. I couldn’t understand it; I loved playing basketball probably more than anything else in the world but the way I saw my pregame jitters I could convince myself that I never wanted to touch that court again. That’s where it got confusing to me; my body was telling me I was nervous, so I thought I was nervous, but as soon as I got on the court and played through those feelings I was in the zone. If they weren’t there, I wasn’t mentally there in that game. I began to realize that if I started a game calm I wasn’t ready and my performance suffered every single time. It made no sense; if I have butterflies I’m good to go, if I’m calm I’m not ready? I had to train myself to just accept that those butterflies were what my body needed to play. They were just there and I stopped dedicating my attention to them.

As I got older I learned that those “nervous” feelings my body was going through before each game weren’t telling me that I wasn’t ready, they were telling that I was. Every sensation we have been conditioned to interpret as unprepared can just as easily be interpreted as being prepared. We must condition ourselves to realize that these physiological changes are simply our body getting ready for something that is important to use. Our body knows what matters to us and it has to get ready for game time too. The sweaty palms were my body cooling down, my stomach was cramping because the digestive system was shutting down so that that energy could be used somewhere else in my body and my heart was racing because it was busy pumping blood to my muscles so when game time came I was ready to perform. Just like we warm up and get our minds right my body had its own pregame routine to make sure that I was ready to go physiologically.

The sooner we become mindful of what our bodies are trying to tell us, the easier it is to interpret those physiological sensations in a more effective way. When we realize how we feel when we perform our best, we can use it to our advantage and help boost our confidence. I stopped playing a long time ago but I have the same feeling whenever I get up to teach, or do any performance for that matters. My stomach gets upset, my heart races and my palms sweat. Now however, instead of seeing those butterflies as meaning I’m nervous or I’m not ready, I see them as it meaning that I’m prepared ultimately making me even more confident than I was before. Those butterflies now make me excited because I know that my body is pregaming too. If those butterflies ever become too overwhelming, I know to take control, get them all flying in the same direction and trust that my body has my back. I embrace those butterflies.

Is Hard Work Always Enough?

By: Ryan Sypkens

CEO & Lead instructor at Syp’s Touch Shooting


One of the biggest misconceptions in athletics is the notion that if you physically work hard every day then you will reach great success. Hard work is definitely a necessary component to finding success, but it is not the only necessary element. To achieve great success and reach aspirations one must create the habit of working HARD, SMART, and CONSISTENT. Many are achieving one of these elements, and even less than that achieve two; but very few achieve all three on a consistent basis.

Achieving all three elements is very challenging and the average person’s mental framework hinders their ability to accomplish this. The good news is that this mental framework – habitual thinking patterns influencing assumptions that have a direct negative or positive affect on behavior patterns – can be changed with proper training!

In Sacramento California, a local basketball training Academy, Syp’s Touch Shooting, is currently developing a program – The TOUCH System – which provides a curriculum that includes mental training and couples it directly with professional level skill and shooting training. The idea is to rigorously train the physical skills and techniques consistent with becoming a successful basketball player while simultaneously training the mind to reach the capacity for the discipline and accountability necessary to work HARD, SMART, and CONSISTENT.

There will be mental training programs that focus on common struggles such as confidence or free throw shooting, or a program can be created consistent with the individual’s specific situation and struggles.

Applying these mental concepts and techniques to your daily training regimen will help you experience great improvement on the basketball floor, but this is not the only benefit. Regardless of what you decide to pursue in life, these same concepts and techniques can be applied to anything, and participating in this program is great practice for any of your future endeavors in life.

Your focus cannot only include physical skills, but must also include developing the mental aptitude to reach success. With this approach, you are capable of anything!




Effective Praise


One of my favorite past times is coaching. I’ve spent years coaching both youth sports and Special Olympics and have been lucky enough to pick up some tips along the way. Effective Praise is one of the best kept, underestimated, secrets to motivate athletes and especially teams to perform well. Praising is something that we naturally do but using the following tips have been proven to make anyone perform better and more consistently. Effective praise builds confidence and creates “winning streaks’ ultimately leading to more success.


Tips for Effective Praise:

  1. Be specific – You want to be as detailed as possible when telling people what they did correct. Just saying “good job” is not enough, it does not allow them to know what they did right so that they can do it again. Make sure the athlete knows why you are praising them. Ask yourself what they did right or why did they do it right. A better example of effective praise would be “nice job keeping your elbow in and following through with your shot.
  2. Let it stand alone – It is so easy to clutter praise with critiques. When you have more critiques then you do effective praise, the praise gets lost and means very little (if anything) to the person receiving it.
  3. Be Sensitive – Not everyone likes to be in the spot light and prefer public displays of praise. Knowing your athletes means knowing how they would like to be praised, for some that means pulling them aside to tell them what they did right. Being sensitive to this helps build trust between you and your athlete.
  4. Effort counts – The player or team does not have to execute perfectly to deserve some praise, acknowledge them for their effort. We all know that sometimes we can do everything right and still not get the expected outcome, that effort should not be ignored. Especially when trying to build confidence with a new skill or sport, giving effect praise for effort and improvement can go a long way.
  5. Pay attention to detail – Praise them for things that may not be so obvious. When you can pick up on the little things that proves to the athlete that not only do you care about them but you are paying attention to what they are doing.
  6. Let it vary– You do not need to acknowledge every time that someone does something right. Effective praise should be more often when they are learning a new skill and can be given less often as their talent advances. Also, it’s important to acknowledge good things across different skills and not always focus on one thing.