LeBron James; Arike Ogunbowale: the best in the business. They get it. They got it. They know what I’m referring to when I speak about hitting those big shots that only true blue superstars can. Hell, once upon a time, it sometimes used to be me, too. Whoever makes the shot is the star; stars make big shots. It’s simple. But what is it that sets them apart and makes them stand out so much above the competition, and what allows them to truly be ready for the moment that an entire career legacy is potentially based upon? I believe it first comes from building confidence in the quiet moments.
The best-kept secret is finding the joy and fun in the silent, secret hard work. There’s where your advantage lies.
Never disregard the little details of the game—the fundamentals. Something that we want to sharply and obsessively focus on in order to maintain an input and output system that is as close as it can be to perfection. Two things to think about:
Always maintain good fundamentals around you.
Remind yourself that this is a practice. It’s a habit—don’t pick up bad habits, they won’t do anything but choke your talent. You should feel distaste for practicing bad habits; it should never feel comfortable.
And when it does start to feel comfortable, always flee. Not sometimes, but always.
Don’t forget that it is hard to get good results from bad fundamentals because it is a practice.
You must realize that your fundamentals will not only define you, they will follow you. Allow that pressure to make you feel inclined to persevere through change if necessary. Don’t be too hard on yourself or make things more difficult by not taking the basic fundamentals seriously. You will find yourself in a hole that will feel impossible to get out of. The advantage, however, is that if you do practice good fundamentals and always keep that at the forefront to your life on and off the court, there really is no challenge that will be too hard for you to overcome. This is because you are helping yourself.
This is all wonderful news. How do you truly develop this, though?
Let’s start with a basic question: How do you define you?
Set The Standard
From there you can take the direct approach that is going to set the standard for which you would like to strive. Keep in mind, if you set low standards for yourself that is the feeling you will be left with when it is all said and done. LeBron and Arike are successful because they set the highest standard possible for themselves. When you watch them play, you sometimes find it hard to notice the other competition. It isn’t because the other competition isn’t great or highly valuable, it is because you can tell that in their minds, there is no competition. That’s all it takes, really.
Really? Well, I also believe that the real key is confidence.
You cannot cast away your confidence if you want to become a big-time, big-moment player like LeBron or Arike. Your confidence is literally all you have to rely on; it is special to you because you hold the power to it and you give it the authority to manifest and take shape. Look at every great player and one of the first things you will probably notice is how confident they are.
Your confidence sets the stage for how you will perform in the biggest moments of your life and career.
The biggest precaution that I would give you is to understand that you cannot rely on anyone or anything else to give you the confidence you desire; it has to come from your true pure spirit.
Another precaution: If you think of the battle in the game as a war, false confidence on the basketball court can be a deadly weapon formed against you, waiting for your vulnerabilities to appear so that it may destroy you.
How do you gain confidence?
It’s really hard to say. You can’t just have LeBron’s confidence; it belongs to him. Even though it happened last month, I’m still marveling at the awe-inspiring back-to-back miracles that were displayed when Arike hit both game winners to earn a National Championship for Notre Dame. What possessed her to have that much cool, calm self-assurance and confidence while I’m sitting here completely nerve wrecked, ready to have an anxious breakdown?
When you watch the replay over and over again, you can see that it was because she had the power in her confidence—she believed the shot was going in.
Listen to her post-game interview; she even says it there. Just completely in control. This is the mountain peak that few athletes can ascend to, but maybe when watching each other we can pick up some of the clues they leave behind and try to determine how some of their confidence can rub off on us as well. I know I will be taking cues from them.
It was both thrilling and inspiring to watch Arike; all the motivation and the message hidden deep in her talents. This spring she taught us all how you can gain confidence on the court, simply by just believing in yourself.
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach