8/24 – Kobe Bryant Day

Lessons we can learn from The Mamba Mentality: How I Play


I had a constant craving, a yearning, to improve and be the best. I never needed any external forces to motivate me.

Over the years, my routine might have changed some, but my philosophy never did. If something has worked for other greats before you, and if something is working for you, why change it up and embrace some new fad? Stick with what works, even if it is unpopular.

Film study is all about detail. Some people enjoy looking at a watch; others are happier figuring out how the watch works.

I didn’t train only my body – I trained my mind, too. The only way I was able to pick up the details on the court, to be aware of the minutiae on the hardwood, was by training my mind to do that off the court and focusing on every detail in my daily life.

I always started off my routine close to the basket. I would start off short and work on my touch. Always. Always. Always

The Mamba Mentality isn’t about seeking a result – it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life.


Footwork is about efficiency. I needed to be able to get to my attack spots in one or two dribbles. The key was knowing how to move the defense with just my feet and my eyes and the positioning of my body, by knowing how to manipulate them left or right without having to put the ball on the floor.

During my early years in the NBA, I was surprised to learn that I took a different, more fundamental and serous, approach to footwork than a lot of players. A lot of players solely focused on improving off the dribble, but I also always placed added emphasis on playing off the catch. Only after mastering pivots – reverse pivots, inside reverse pivots, outside reverse pivots – did I work on the sexier between-the-legs, behind-the-backs, and crossovers.

God gave us two hands. Whether dribbling, pivoting, or spinning; it was important to me that I felt comfortable with either hand.

I never shied away from contact. Understanding the importance of contact and physicality is only half the battle. You have to love it, and I did.

When fundamentals are no longer fundamental. It’s weird, actually – fundamentals aren’t really fundamental anymore. A lot of players don’t understand the game or the importance of footwork, spacing. It’s to the point where if you know the basics, you have an advantage on the majority of players.

I took boxing out a big man as a personal challenge. You want to, obviously, establish a good base and get your body in front of the opposition. But you also want to make sure you get lower than their hips so you can move them and alter their positioning. If you try doing that at the shoulders, it won’t work because they are stronger at the top. When most players look at basketball, as a competition, they consider scoring and defending. In truth, even this little aspect – boxing out – is a competition within the competition.

All about footwork. Footwork on the court is comparable to the way you use your head while riding a motorcycle. If you want to turn left or right, you have to start by looking and leaning your weight, starting with your head, in that direction. It’s the same thing with your feet on the basketball court.

I built my game to have no holes. Yes, you might have known I preferred to go one way. That didn’t ultimately matter, because I could just as easily go the other way. Yeah, you might have also thought you knew my cadence and rhythm, except – I didn’t have one. I made a point to adjust the pace of my attack to throw defenders off. In essence, the more you thought you knew about my game, the harder it would actually be to guard me.

What separates great players from all-time great players is their ability to self-assess, diagnose weaknesses, and turn those flaws into strengths.

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Go Green!

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Your inner coach is someone who helps you out or breaks you down. Treat your inner coach like a traffic light:
Red = Negative Thought (“I can’t do this” or “I suck”)
Yellow = Wavering (“I don’t know if I can do this”)
Green = Positive Thought (“I got this”)

It’s human nature to doubt yourself when you are struggling. For most, our inner coach is quiet when things are good. It waits to show up & tell us when things are going bad. The goal should be to turn our inner coach into somebody who can guide us through the tough times by sending us messages that ensure our self-trust. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts and then trust them!

3 steps to getting back to positive once doubt & negativity creeps in:
Acknowledge the thought (“I can’t do this”)
Interrupt the thought
Replace the thought (“I can do this”)

Go Green! All-in with thoughts that contain self-trust.

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Decision Making – Ball-Screen Reads

3-man Ball-Screen action with the defense rotating out of the ball-side corner to take away the roll. The ball-handler coming off the ball-screen must:

1). Beat 1

2). Engage 2

3). See 3

Successful decision making is predicated on the ball-handlers ability to quickly “See 3” to counter the help-side rotations to hit the open player.

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How to Improve your Footwork – the Quick Hop

The Quick Hop is beneficial when the shooter is on the move. Pre-shot movement can be sliding laterally along the perimeter, uphill coming off an away screen or downhill off the dribble/curl.

With all footwork it is imperative that you do your work early. When the “Ball in the air = feet in the air.” Players will need to drive their toes into the ground on the catch.

The Quick Hop will assist your:
POP TIME (time elapsed from the catch to the release)

“The quality of your feet will determine the quality of your shot.”

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Injuries and Becoming Mentally Strong by Overseas Pro, Kellon Thomas

One of the toughest parts about sports are injuries. In a perfect world, no one would ever get injured but let’s be real, it’s a big part in sports today. In time of injuries, there are two options one can choose from:

  1. Feel sorry for themself and do nothing
  2. Embrace it and do everything they can to better the situation.

My advice would be to embrace it and control only the things you can control. When having a positive attitude during your time of an injury, can refocus your mind and make your time sitting out go a lot faster.

Just how you give 100% effort on the court, you must give the same energy in your rehab and recovery. Effective rehab leads to better and faster healing time to get back on the court. Eating right and making healthy decisions are also important during this time.

Even though it is tough, attitude plays a big part in the rehab process. Every day it’s a grind to rehab and sit out from practice and games. Even when you don’t feel like it, the best thing you can do during this time of sitting out is to challenge your mind. All Summer and preseason you get to train your body and work on your game physically. Use this time sitting out to watch game film, study plays, scout other teams and help yourself and teammates understand the game better from a different perspective.

In my playing career I’ve suffered two major injuries. A bone chip in my knee after my freshman year in college. This sidelined me for 7 months and missing a pivotal summer to progress and prove myself to my coaches. Another injury I had was an orbital bone fracture in my left eye during my junior season of my college career. This forced me to redshirt and miss the rest of the season. Both times during my injury I was upset and frustrated but I was given the same advice I just stated earlier. Remain patient, control what I can control and work on my mental state during this time.

Returning from both injuries, my stats, leadership, work ethic and role all increased because of how invested I was to my rehab, commitment to the team and to coming back stronger. So if going through an injury and having to miss time on the court, remember to use this time to work on areas of your game that you can control. Rehab to the best of your ability and become mentally strong through a tough time so when you do return, you’re better than ever.

Kellon Thomas

Just Hoops Coach and Professional Basketball Player

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Lasting Lessons from Coach Pat Summitt

Respect Yourself and Others
There is no such thing as self-respect without respect for others.
Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by themselves.
People who do not respect those around them will not make good team members and
probably lack self-esteem themselves.
When you ask yourself, “Do I deserve to succeed?”, make sure the answer is yes.

Take Full Responsibility
There are no shortcuts to success.
You can’t assume larger responsibility without taking responsibility for the small things, too.
Being responsible sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions.
Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re
never wrong?

Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty
Loyalty is not unilateral. You have to give it to receive it.
The family business model is a successful one because it fosters loyalty and trust.
Surround yourself with people who are better than you are. Seek out quality people,
acknowledge their talents, and let them do their jobs. You win with people.

Learn to Be a Great Communicator
Communication eliminates mistakes.
Listening is crucial to good communication.
We communicate all the time, even when we don’t realize it. Be aware of body language.
Make good eye contact.
Silence is a form of communication, too. Sometimes less is more.

Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To
Self-discipline helps you believe in yourself.
Group discipline produces a unified effort toward a common goal.
When disciplining others, be fair, be firm, be consistent.
Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from
average work.

Make Hard Work Your Passion
Do the things that aren’t fun first, and do them well.
Plan your work, and work your plan.
See yourself as self-employed.

Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart
Success is about having the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
Know your strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
When you understand yourself and those around you, you are better able to minimize
weaknesses and maximize strengths. Personality profiles help.

Put the Team Before Yourself
Teamwork doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.
Teamwork allows common people to obtain uncommon results.
Not everyone is born to lead. Role players are critical to group success.
In group success there is individual success.

Make Winning an Attitude
Combine practice with belief.
Attitude is a choice. Maintain a positive outlook.
No one ever got anywhere by being negative.
Confidence is what happens when you’ve done the hard work that entitles you to succeed.

Be a Competitor
Competition isn’t social. It separates achievers from the average.
You can’t always be the most talented person in the room, but you can be the most competitive.
Influence your opponent: By being competitive you can affect how your adversary performs.
There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts.

Change Is a Must
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most.
Change equals self-improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.
Take risks. You can’t steal second base with your foot on first.

Handle Success Like You Handle Failure
You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.
Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. Losing forces you to reexamine.
It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb. Continue to seek new goals.

Coach Summitt won 1,098 games with a 84.0 career winning percentage. Every player who completed her eligibility between 1976 and 2011 appeared in at least one Final Four. But most importantly, every player who entered the program and completed her eligiblity across Summitt’s 38-year career earned a degree.

To learn more about the career & lasting legacy of Coach Summitt: http://www.patsummitt.org/our_role/pats_story/pats_definite_dozen.aspx

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Set Point – How to Improve the Arc on your Shot

Are you looking to help improve the arc of your shot? Shooting with a low set point will result in a flat, line-drive shot. Players must understand how lifting the basketball to their proper set point will dictate their arc
Three Quality Teaching Points that Players Must Answer Yes to:

  1. Does their elbow clear their shoulder?
  2. Does their thumb clear their forehead?
  3. Can they see the rim underneath the ball?
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What Coaches Will Be Looking For!

Trent Scarbrough grew up in Central Florida where he played his high school basketball at First Academy of Leesburg. Trent was known in the area as a long-range shooter making 72 three-pointers during his junior campaign. Trent ended up as one of the top shooters in the state in his division during his senior season, finishing third. Trent made 203 three pointers for his career while shooting at a 45% ratio. He went on to play his college ball at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Coach Trent offers quality advice for players at all levels as they enter try-outs. Execute these steps to make a strong impression & maximize every opportunity to move yourself forward. Coach Trent learned many valuable lessons as he navigated his playing career. The following expectations are what he shared with his current clients at Just Hoops:


  • When the coach is talking, keep eye contact with them the whole time (if kids are talking and messing around when the coach is talking, do not be a part of that group).
  • If he/she asked for a volunteer to demonstrate a drill, be the 1st to raise your hand.
  • Ask follow up questions if you are not 100% sure what they are asking you to do
  • Sprint to every huddle (you should want to be the first one there)
  • Ask the coach if they need help cleaning up after the tryout

Willingness to make winning plays:

  • Dive for loose balls
  • Talk on offense and defense, communicate with your teammates.
  • Do the little things (Set good screens, stay low on defense, hustle to every spot)

Be a good teammate:

  • Give high fives, fist bumps, etc. to your teammates
  • Help your teammates off the floor if they get knocked down
  • Remember you are trying out for a team so coaches will be looking for who can work together and be a good teammate.
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Tips Entering Tryouts with Grandview Heights Head Coach, Ray Corbett

Grandview Heights Head Coach, Ray Corbett, shares insight for players at all levels to best prepare for tryouts. Coaches are looking for players who showcase great attitudes, hustle and an enthusiasm for the game. Players must lock-in mentally to avoid any slippage when it comes to attention to detail. Be confident, give your best effort & be an energy giver.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: Tips Entering Tryouts with Grandview Heights Head Coach, Ray Corbett

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