Kobe Bryant passed away suddenly Sunday, and it is hard to believe such an influential player and person is gone. As much as anyone, Kobe chased his goals obsessively, eliminated distractions, and tried to outwork everyone. His example to make the most of your opportunities, to build you craft and work hard for what you want, and to love those around you especially family will continue to affect and inspire others.
To me personally, Kobe was a source of education and motivation as a young person who loved basketball. When I was a freshman in high school, Kobe was in the height of his young career in LA, about to win his second championship with Shaq at the age of 22. I played basketball, but reading articles about Kobe on a big desktop computer at my dad’s house, I realized that Kobe trained basketball. Now obviously most all professionals train at an extremely high level to get and stay where they are, but Kobe was different. The things I read about him expressed his unrelenting nature to outwork others (competitive just to outlast people), his detailed approach to his craft (footwork drills for hours, thousands of makes in the off season), and his understanding that he was different because of his drive and goals, and that he was okay with that.
I decided to change my shot in high school and a coach asked me to shoot 2,500 shots from about six feet to build the muscle memory of the new form (higher release, less guide hand presence). As a 14 year old, I did it, working outside at a goal in the backyard at my dad’s house, at the hoop in the cul de sac at my mom’s house, and I was motivated by the work ethic and focus that I saw in Kobe. Not only did he make me want to get better, but he set an example that was easy to chase, but impossible to match. How many kids were motivated to do the same over his twenty year NBA career? How many young people developed their own Mamba Mentality watching greatness unfold throughout his playing days, and tried to develop his level of care and focus for their craft?
Kobe’s impact on people is hugely felt as you can see this week in the media. A life cut too short, but what a life lived as he clearly had strong relationships with his family members and a deep deep love for helping and inspiring others. I loved Kobe Bryant, but more importantly I respected his drive and wanted to emulate the way he fought hard for who he wanted to be and didn’t ever make excuses. Basketball fan or not, becoming a Kobe fan and really looking at how he lived his life will make us all better people.
"To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself," Bryant said. "That is what the Mentality is," he added. "It's a constant quest to try to be better today than you were yesterday."
RIP Mamba. #8 #24
How much time do you spend thinking about making others feel big time? Do you go out of your way to build someone else up each day? Can you think of that person in your life that always makes a big deal about what you are doing and fills your bucket with encouragement in the way they listen and remind you what you bring to the world?
Life is short, and most of us are too negative with ourselves. Make someone else’s day by investing some time in making them feel important. Here are a few tips:
As a player, there is a level of personal responsibility in your game even from a young age. Coaches will help prepare you, teach you new things, and point out areas for growth. Parents may provide guidance and encouragement, rebounding, or feedback of your strengths and weaknesses. But it is you who is responsible to do the work.
So what does a responsible player chasing growth look like? Here are some concrete skills to focus on and intangibles that will keep you going along the journey…
-Ball Handling - Pound dribble hard to work on ball control and strength/feel for the ball. Work on two balls eyes up; combo cross moves; footwork in your dribble moves; extra work with weak hand.
-Shooting - Form shoot often (at a goal or even just in the air). Work on your jump shot and count makes and misses. Great shooters shoot all the time, there is no shortcut here. Add a finishing routine to your shooting including Mikan drill or high reps of finishing options around the rim you are adding to your game.
-Passing - work on being able to throw different types of passes from both sides of your body; Use a wall or a partner. Watch basketball to learn decision making with the ball from college and pro players.
-Say what and when - Set a schedule and stick to it. Tell someone else so you are held more accountable. Be willing to do the work when you don’t feel like doing it.
-Measure - Write down what you are doing and find a way to measure each skill. This will show growth as well as help you stay accountable if you get off track.
-Write your basketball dreams somewhere you will see it daily.
If you don’t want to be a good player, don’t worry about committing to the above advice. But if your dreams are big, understand these fundamental skills are up to you and the best person to motivate you to work on building them consistently is yourself! If you are serious about it, don’t put a coach or parent in charge of driving this. Get started and good luck!
"Get Better" is our PEAK blog, providing you with content to help enhance your game, your mind, and your relentless pursuit of the process! Enjoy.
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