NBA great Chris Bosh on the values of visualizing
By Greg Bach
NBA great Chris Bosh put in countless sweat-soaked hours of practice throughout his legendary career.
But equally important was the time he spent away from the court harnessing the powers of the mind.
“You have to visualize,” says Bosh, a two-time NBA champion who will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in September. “You have to see yourself being successful. You have to imagine it every day. That’s the part that I put hours and hours into. That’s a skill.”
Bosh is the author of the recently released book LETTERS TO A YOUNG ATHLETE, and he encourages coaches and parents to help their young athletes tap into the power of the mind to perform at their best.
“It definitely starts with that imagination,” he says. “A lot of people don’t want to do that, but I definitely feel that you have to see yourself being successful – and then you have to put in the work every day to help that visualization come true.”
Bosh relied on visualization techniques throughout his career – and he used them throughout the day, too.
“In my bed I would be thinking about my rotations on defense and seeing my shot go in,” he says. “Before games I’m thinking about my shot and seeing them go in. It’s just a continuous process.”
And it’s one that he savored.
“That’s the part that I loved about it because you have an opportunity to be great every day,” he says. “You just have to keep believing and stick to what you do. But you have to keep that picture in your mind and don’t let it slip.”
Check out what else Bosh shared with us about his youth coaches, what he learned from failing, and more:
WORDS OF WISDOM: Bosh wrote LETTERS TO A YOUNG ATHLETE to help share with boys and girls some of the wisdom he gathered during a spectacular career that included a pair of NBA championships with the Miami Heat, 11 All-Star Game selections, and an Olympic gold medal.
“There are so many messages,” he says. “I’m telling people what were the most important things that helped me get to where I got to. Among them is that inner voice that speaks to every athlete.”
And become comfortable hearing that voice.
“You have to get familiar with that inner voice and know that it’s there,” Bosh says. “Sometimes that conversation isn’t always going to be for you, but if you stick with it and continue to believe and put the work in great things can happen.”
COACHES WHO CARE: Bosh, like all of us, remember our youth coaches and the experiences they provide. “I just wanted to have fun,” he says of his youth basketball days. “I loved the coaches that allowed us to have fun and, win or lose, still had the same message. That was always important to me.”
FINDING FUEL IN FAILING: “How would you ever learn unless you made mistakes?” Bosh says. “Losing a game or coming up short on a goal isn’t a failure – not trying is a failure. There are so many people who just say ‘I could have’ or ‘I should have’ but they never actually get in the arena and do it. I’m challenging people to do it because there is so much magic in that.”
A MESSAGE THAT MATTERS: Bosh encourages today’s volunteer coaches in all sports to capitalize on the opportunities they have to impact a child’s life. “Coaches are such an important part of our society because they have the ear of our youth and they are shaping these boys and girls,” he says. “All it takes sometimes is a pat on the back and telling them that they can do it. I probably wouldn’t have made the NBA without those encouraging words along the way.”
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Ryan Gareis, former University of South Carolina standout and current forward for the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League, on bringing energy, enthusiasm and a team-first mentality at all times
Orlando Pride midfielder Chelsee Washington, founder of 90/10 Performance Co., on helping young players manage mindsets and build confidence from within to perform at their best
Erica Suter, former soccer standout at Johns Hopkins University and author of THE STRONG FEMALE ATHLETE, on helping female athletes enhance confidence, reduce injuries, and boost performance