For the Goshen College women’s basketball team, confidence and poise under pressure is key. 

Faced with a confidence issue mid-way through the winter-break, head coach Stephanie Miller decided that it was high time that her squad broke through some of their mental blockages.

Instead of drilling complex schemes and strategies over and over, coach Miller began the confidence-rebuilding process off of the court by having the team, as well as the staff, read a self-improvement book entitled, It’s a Mental Thing: Five Keys to Improving Performance and Enjoying Sport. 

“We broke it up, did a few chapters at a time, and it really talked about reidentifying what pressure means to you and how to accept it in a positive way,” Miller said.

The reading was particularly helpful for the players, as it prioritized techniques and strategies for them to utilize as the season wore on. 

“We have really good team chemistry, but I think this book brought our team even closer,” Claire Rauck, senior guard and team captain said. “A lot of the points in the book seemed like common sense at times, but we all recognized that we had some of those issues within our own team in terms of confidence problems or not performing under pressure.” 

Rauck said the intentional bonding time improved the team chemistry as a whole.

“I think getting to sit with everyone and talk about our own thoughts and feelings about the book created a spark for us to recognize these issues, and use the techniques in the book to fix them.” 

Each day, practices and games included, the team focused on “process goals” on how to hold one another accountable. 

“No one writes ‘score 15 points’ or ‘win the game,’ because those are very outcome based, whereas things like ‘bringing energy,’ ‘crash the boards,’ or ‘finish’ can help us reach our goals, and ideally if we reach our process goals, we get the outcome we want,” Rauck said.

While the book may not have solved all of the teams problems, results have begun to show on the court as the Leafs piled up a two-game win streak as the winter break came to an end with crucial victories over two Crossroads League rivals, Grace College, and Bethel University.