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NBA Offseason: Evaluating Sixers center Joel Embiid’s mindset

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Clearing mental blocks is an important part of Joel Embiid’s return to prominence.

NBA: New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After playing four years of college basketball at Drexel University, Jake Rauchbach coached at the collegiate level, and received an MBA from Drexel University and Masters in Kinsiology from Temple University. He founded The MindRight Pro Program and has trained numerous professional and Olympic athletes.

Joel Embiid’s NBA debut, along with the firepower of Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel could make for a dynamic frontline. Throw in pure point guard Sergio Rodriguez, and Coach Brown has some serious pieces to work with. Embiid, only 22, has the organization and fans salivating with his freakish athleticism and superstar ceiling.

The sky is the limit for Embiid if he can stay healthy, and all signs coming from the 76ers organization indicate he’ll be ready to go. Factor in his impressive summer workout posts on Instagram, and it could spell a breakout year during his first season back on the court in Philly. The 76ers have taken every step within their power to ensure that Embiid is both physically and mentally prepared to withstand the rigors of the upcoming season. However, there may be one aspect of Embiid’s recovery that has not yet been fully explored: how the unconscious mental and emotional blockages from his injury could hold him back this season.

When pushing through his injury last season, Embiid struggled with his weight and at times was a reluctant workout participant. These types of cracks in his mindset could prevent Embiid from giving his all on the court this season for the Sixers.

Having worked with several college and professional players returning from injury, the most common issues generally seen are challenges regarding their mentality. When players go through the injury recovery process as Embiid has, frequently they will unknowingly collect unconscious mental blockages due to the injury, ensuing surgery, or the subsequent rehabilitation process. The memories, thoughts, and emotions felt during these different stages of recovery can become trapped within the unconscious mind/acupuncture system of a player. This can ultimately hinder recovery. When these blocks exist, a player will almost always protect or guard the original injury and may limit himself from going full throttle while on the court for fear of re-injury.

This especially holds true when an athlete experiences fear of re-injury and lacks trust that the body has healed. When this happens, there can be a hesitancy to perform at the same level the player had prior to the injury, and inevitably performance is adversely affected.

When a player fails to address common mental blocks such as fear of injury and protection patterns of the original injury, further injury risk is increased. Not addressing these blocks can also cause chronic complications regarding the original injury. This is why it is important for a player like Embiid to make sure his mind is strong. Sports science can now identify which unconscious mental blocks are holding an athlete back from moving through the injury recovery process faster. Utilizing energy medicine programs, like MindRight Pro or techniques like the Los Angeles Rams already employ, could help eliminate these blockages from a player’s system. These types of techniques were used by several athletes during the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Embiid is already showing signs of getting back to the athleticism he displayed while at Kansas. With his 7’0” frame and 7’5” wing span, Embiid (along with Noel) has the potential to provide substantial rim protection for the Sixers. But if there are pockets of Embiid’s psyche still holding any sort of hesitancy in regards to his movement, this could act as a block preventing him from going full tilt while on the floor. If this is the case, as an example, Embiid’s ability to recover or scramble out of broken defensive plays while the 76ers are in defensive rotation could be affected. Working through the acupuncture system to clear out these subconscious barriers, would increase the speed with which Embiid regains full confidence in his on-court movement.

This shift in confidence could provide him the ability to play with more freedom, and through this approach, Embiid could also improve offensively. His poise in the post and ability to finish around the basket could be enhanced through elimination of this same unconscious baggage. His ability to move his feet without fear of re-injury could allow him to stay out of foul trouble and remain on the floor longer, an issue that was apparent at times at Kansas.

The 76ers already have some exciting pieces in place for this upcoming season, and Embiid has the potential to assume a large role in the team’s success. With Embiid acting as the anchor, the 76ers have a chance to establish a dominant defensive frontline. Improving his offensive efficiency around the rim might give Embiid a chance to benefit greatly from Rodriguez’s “pass first” mentality. It could also help him to benefit from Simmons’ ability to find open teammates when double teamed.

Covering all bases to ensure that all parts of Embiid’s physical and mental approach is aligned for success this season could help the Cameroonian perform at his highest level. This in turn could give the 76ers exactly what they are looking for, a healthy, high-performing Joel Embiid.