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Coach Cori Close: Mental Conditioning

Apr 20, 2024

The Mental Game in Basketball and Life

I’ve written before about mental conditioning as an essential part of athletic training or preparing for competition.  And I believe it’s a tool that applies more broadly to one’s professional life whatever one’s challenges or goals.  With that in mind, I was struck by UCLA coach Cori Close’s Twitter post:  “The edge is where your talent runs out and you develop the discipline and skill to reach your potential.”  Close has stressed her belief in “discipline over default,” the daily practice of building mental toughness and resilience to enhance your game.

As UCLA women’s basketball coach since 2011, Cori Close has elevated the school’s program and guided her team to a successful 2024 season (24-5, 13-5 in the PAC-12).  In addition, Close earned a prestigious honor, being named as recipient of the 2024 WBCA Carol Eckman Integrity in Coaching Award.  A video course, “Coaching the Mental Game of Basketball,” details Close’s methods for building a mentality for success for herself that she further translates to her athletes.  You can find a 54-second YouTube video entitled “Chasing Edges,” featuring Coach Close talking to her players about how to learn to talk to yourself, to overcome doubt, when you’re at your edge.

As part of the mental conditioning process, Close has talked about the value of a growth mindset, the importance of discipline even in the off-season and the power of an environment in which joy and struggle both exist.  As if echoing the words of Cori Close, star player for the University of Iowa, Caitlin Clark says, “The biggest thing is coming in every day and being intentional about every single thing we do….  You have to win practice every single day if you want to win on game day.”