Basketball Star Ezi Magbegor On Building Mental Strength And Her Biggest Inspiration

As if Eziyoda “Ezi” Magbegor’s resume wasn’t already overflowing, the Aussie basketballer can now add Spalding’s first female ambassador to her list of impressive achievements. It’s a list that already features her flourishing WNBL career (which started in her final year of high school), getting drafted to the WNBA with Seattle Storm, and representing Australia with the Sapphires in the U17s, Gems in the U19s and now – the big guns – the Australian Opals. 

We chatted to the 20-year-old about representing her country, her biggest inspirations and dealing with nerves before major competitions. 

What got you into basketball? Did you ever think representing your country would be a possibility when you started out?

I started playing basketball following in the footsteps of my older siblings. My sister’s school singing teacher owned a Domestic club, the Northern Rebels, and I started playing shortly after they both started. I don’t think the thought of playing for my country crossed my mind until a few years down the track.

What does a regular week of training look like for you?

A regular training week varies, subject to game scheduling. However, in a standard week we have on-court training sessions Monday-Friday, with Wednesdays being our rest and recovery day. We have two weights sessions on a Monday and Thursday.

What practices or habits outside of physical training help with your performance?

Practices or habits outside of physical training that help with my performance include things like the right nutrition, sleep and recovery methods such as ice baths/massages. I think an important habit is also having a balanced mental state. Sourcing those people and strategies off the court that help your mindset is sometimes undervalued but just as important.

Do you still get nervous before big events? How do you work on your mental strength?

I do get nervous before big events. Not as much as I did when I was younger but I definitely do. Nerves are good when they don’t overwhelm you. I believe nerves show that you care, that you are ready. Mental strength is very important when it comes to basketball. I try to focus on one thing at a time and not overwhelm my mind with a million thoughts at once. Be present and focus on what is happening at that very moment. Being confident and trusting in your abilities is something that I’ve been working on. Rehearsing in your mind that you’ve been here before, done this all before, all you need to do is go out there and do your thing.

How are you feeling in the lead up to your first season with Seattle? Is there anyone you’re particularly keen to play with and/or against?

I’m feeling excited and nervous. Playing in the WNBA has been a dream of mine so I’m excited to head into training camp in April. Seattle are a great team, on and off the court, so I’m really looking forward to learning off great players.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

My biggest inspirations are my family. I’m blessed to have such a great family supporting me everyday, riding the highs and lows with me. My Mum and Dad especially. They work hard. Migrating from Nigeria when they were both quite young. That inspires me everyday because that isn’t easy. Amongst all the challenges they faced, they got through them. To me, that’s inspiring.

What’s the best career advice you’ve been given so far?

I’ve been given a lot of career advice over the years which I definitely appreciate and I take all on board. My current WNBL coach, Guy Molloy, always says to focus on and control the non-negotiables. These are non-negotiable things that are attributed to my game, the things that I can control.

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