Perth Wildcats star Luke Travers has provided an extraordinary insight into his personal battle with anxiety and believes his hard work off the court has him in the best mental state of his NBL career.
Travers is one of the rising stars of basketball in Australia and has his sights set on being drafted to the NBA in 2022.
The Wildcats signed him as a Development Player for the 2019-20 season but Travers admitted he wasn’t ready for the intense focus which comes with being a professional athlete.
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Having battled anxiety for his entire life, and shied away from public speaking during high school, the youngster from Rockingham said it became overwhelming after signing with the Wildcats.
“A big thing for me over the last three years was my anxiety was pretty bad. It’s something I’ve learnt (to handle). Just knowing that things are going to happen and you’re going to go through some stuff,” Travers told thewest.com.au’s The Dribble Podcast.
“My first year as a Development Player, I was missing trainings. I was getting to the point where I actually felt sick from the anxiety. I was scared to make mistakes and learnt that it was something I needed to work on.
“Experience is the best lesson. Getting out of your comfort zone and just experiencing it and knowing you can do it as well. It’s the same with pretty much everything in life. You’ve got to experience it and then you learn from it.”
Basketball and video games had always been Travers’ escape from his anxiety, which made him concerned that he was no longer as comfortable on the court.
I was getting to the point where I actually felt sick from the anxiety.
Perth recognised his issue and the club’s psychologist Sandy Gordon taught Travers ways to adapt. An app changed his life.
“There was an app on my phone called Worry Time,” Travers said.
“You take five minutes out of your day and write down what you were worried about that day. You know it’s there but it’s in the back of your mind.
“Every day I was going on 30 minute walks with my dog just writing it down. That was huge for me. It got me through my first year and now it’s better than it’s ever been.”
A barb wire tattoo on Travers’ arm is a permanent reminder of both his battle to overcome anxiety and his victory in taking control of his life. That tattoo reminds him that he fought to get through something difficult and emerged stronger.
“It means you’ve got through something pretty hard in life,” he said.
Travers knows more challenges are coming. Social media is full of judgments and negativity. Draft chatter and speculation can drown athletes and then there’s the opinions of talent scouts.
Performance and expectation are also significant hurdles. Travers recognises he has to improve his three-point shooting to achieve his NBA dreams and said that was the next stage of his mental fight.
“That’s been a massive thing for me this of season. I’ve been shooting the ball pretty well at training but it’s just game pressure is a big thing for me being an anxious person,” he said.
“When I’m open, I’ve got to shoot it and hopefully make it. A big thing for me is game pressure and adapting to it.
“The one in the corner at the start of the game on Sunday felt like I had three seconds but really I got it up in like 0.5 of a second.
“Adapting to the man’s league sort of thing (means) you don’t have as really that much space.”
Also on The Dribble Podcast, Luke Travers discusses:
- How Australia’s NBA draftee Josh Giddey is inspiring him,
- His plans to travel to America at the end of this season,
- The impact Trevor Gleeson had on him last season,
- The extremely personal reason he is now wearing number 23,
- His thrill at watching Luke Jackson win an AFL premiership with Melbourne.