A Case Study: Kobe Bryant’s Shooting Mindset

Shooting the basketball is a mentally challenging task. Why?

Because every time you miss a shot you feel like you’ve failed. We automatically make judgements about ourselves as shooters because shooting the ball is so black and white.  Either you make the shot and are successful or you miss the shot which means you are unsuccessful.

There is no middle ground. “Almost making a shot” doesn’t count for anything on the scoreboard. You don’t get half points for you shot going in and out, and in certain circumstances missing a shot might even get you put on the bench!

This constant stream of feedback can easily mess with your head. What do I mean by that?


I mean that when you shoot the ball you are getting messages sent to your brain that tell you that you are either a good shooter or a bad shooter depending on your performance.

In my experience some players are more naturally inclined to adopt a shooters mindset than others. Certain players are confident and self-assured while other players have to develop this confidence as they grow, mature, and work on their game – as a side note I definitely fall into this second camp, this is one of the biggest reasons why I wrote my E-Book on the exact steps I’ve taken to develop a shooters mindset.

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I believe that regardless of your natural inclination, if you put in the hard work you have the capacity to believe in your abilities as a basketball player. Some of the greatest shooters ever to play the game – ex. Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant – were also some of the most confident players. But confidence doesn’t mean that you have to be arrogant. It simply means that you have a confidence that can’t be shaken by external circumstances.

Bryant in particular, embodies the kind of confidence that you need when you want to become a great shooter. He has a special mindset when it comes to shooting the basketball. Bryant’s ability to block out the negative and focus on the next shot is special. This can be a difficult exercise because many of us are hardwired to think more about our mistakes than our successes. Check out this quote from Bryant, when he heard that fellow NBAer Deron Williams admitted that he stopped shooting after he started out a game 0-9 from the field.

“I’d rather go 0-30 before I would go 0-9. 0-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game…the only reason is because you’ve just now lost confidence in yourself.”

Obviously some players have the license from their coach to chuck up 30 shots and others don’t; Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly one of those players. The point is not the number of shots, but the ability to take the next one with confidence.

This philosophy of this mindset rings true for great shooters. For some players after they miss 1 shot in a game, they will hesitate to take the second one. The point is this: whether you are 0-5 or 10-10, great shooters should trust in their training and abilities to believe that no matter what has happened they will not become psyched out of the game.

Here are 4 specific ways that will help you develop a shooters mindset.


1. Set Difficult Goals and FINISH THEM!!!

This is all about your mindset when you walk into the gym:

For example I could go to workout with the goal of making 100 three-point shots or I could challenge myself to make 10 out of 13 shots behind the three at 10 spots, and each time I fail to make the goal I force myself to do 20 pushups. There are a million different ways to push your mental capacity as well as your body during workouts.

Don’t let yourself settle for mediocre. Strive for greatness in every workout and push yourself to grow mentally and physically every time you step foot in a gym. This is the key to growth, and this is the key to your shooting success.

The difference is that the second drill puts pressure on you and forces you to raise your level of focus and concentration. Here is a good drill I like to do that challenges me, its called “The Crucible”.


Goal: Beat the clock and force yourself to make shots when you’re fatigued

  • Make 2 shots at 5 spots in 1min and 45sec
  • Between each shot you have to run and touch half-court
  • Once you’ve made 2 shots in a spot you move to the next spot
  • A great drill to help you learn how to make shots when you’re tired
  • Shooters have to be mentally tough when they are fatigued 

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2. Give yourself positive reinforcement

As I talked about at the beginning, being a shooter is a tough job. I would know because I’ve been shooting the basketball for a living for the past 3 years as a pro overseas.

My tendency is to remember my mistakes and forget my makes, but great shooters dwell on their successes and dismiss their failures. They instill a confidence in themselves that comes from knowing that they’ve paid the price.

One exercise to boost your confidence (especially before a game) is to watch a clip-tape full of yourself making shots. Ask your coach or manager to help you make a highlight film of your made buckets. This visual reinforcement will fill your mind with positive images and remind you of what you are capable of.


3. Watch video clips of other great shooters

We can learn a lot by watching great shooters and how they approach the game. It’s funny. I’ll find that the days when I have my best shooting workouts are the days in which I’ve been hanging out on YouTube watching highlight tapes of some of my shooting heroes (Steph Curry, Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews, Klay Thompson).

Watch a full game or highlight clips of your favourite shooter and see how they approach the game. Pay attention to their technique, demeanour, and reactions to both misses and makes. Steal little things from how they shoot the ball and incorporate it into your own game.


4. Create a “mindset” checklist

Write down your own mindset checklist with reminders of the things that you need to focus on when it comes to shooting the ball (I run through the exact process on how to do this in my book). Review this checklist before practices and games and start to engrain these principles into your psyche.


Make your Shooting Checklist Now



If you want to learn exactly how guys like Kobe Bryant have become legendary shooters, I’ve put together an E-Book that took me over a year to write. 

As I mentioned a few times the post, it is the culmination of what I’ve learned as a shooter over the last 3 years as a pro.


Click Here to Discover the Secrets

I wouldn’t be selling this book if I didn’t 100% believe in what I’ve written. It has taken me nearly a full year to compile this material, because I wanted to share the exact mindset and techniques that have helped me raise my shooting percentage by 5% over the last several years.

I’ve Been Blessed to Have Been…

  • A 4 year Starter at a Division 1 College ProgramSBL Willetton vs Stirling & Goldfields - 11-7-14 & 12-7-14 - QMD
  • Won a Division 1 State Championship in High School
  • Be the leading scorer (30ppg) and 3 point shooter (45%) for two straight years playing professionally in Australia 
  • To have a career 40% three point shooter in College
  • To have played for great coaches and just finished my 3rd year as a pro
  • To have spent hundreds of hours training and coaching other players

The reason I started Arete Hoops was so I could help coaches and players grow in their leadership, influence, character, and discipline. 

And this E-Book is by far the best material I’ve ever come across on how to improve both the mental side of shooting while giving you practical steps to make improvement. I hope it serves you.

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Tim Duncan vs. Kobe Bryant: A Brief Comparison

Cumulative Greatness

Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are unquestionably the two greatest players of their generation. In the 17 years they have played together in the NBA together – Kobe entered the league 1 prior to Duncan leaving Wake Forest for the draft – one of their respective teams (i.e. Kobe’s Lakers or Duncan’s Spurs) have represented the Western Conference in a staggering 13 out of 17 NBA finals series. Of those 13 Finals appearances they took home 5 championship rings apiece, which means they have won nearly 60% of possible league titles during that span. Collectively Bryant and Duncan have amassed 29 All-NBA honors (voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters), earning them 1st and 2nd positions respectively for the most all-time selections. They’ve won 3 MVP awards and have been in the top-5 in MVP Award voting 20 times in their combined 35 seasons; fans have also voted them to a combined 29 All-Star appearances.Kobe_Bryant_hoists_both_the_2010_NB

When comparing two incredible players like Kobe and Tim, what is the best way to measure and contrast their greatness? Many statistical figures could be employed to make an argument for either Tim or Kobe, however I want to focus simply on one overarching category: Value Added. Which player adds a greater amount of value as a result of their defense, offense, and leadership over the course of their career? There are several key metrics to help illuminate our search.



Kobe came into the league one-year prior to Duncan, so the respective length of their careers is easily comparable. The first major metric in our comparison study is Win Shares. Win Shares simply measure the percentage (or overall number if taken over the course of an entire season) of wins a player directly contributes to their team – the league average in Win Shares per 48 minutes is .100. Kobe Bryant’s career mark is well above the league average at .182, only to be eclipsed by Duncan’s career average at .211. If we break these figures down even further, we see that on average Duncan has contributed 16% more win shares to his team than Bryant during the regular season. When we extrapolate these numbers for the playoffs, Duncan’s figures outshine Bryant’s by a significant 25% more win shares than Kobe during their respective playoff careers. Duncan exceeds Bryant in Defensives Win Shares (an estimate of the number of wins a player contributes based on their defense) by a 2:1 margin while Bryant overshadows Duncan by a 4:3 in Offensive Win Shares. All this to say that Duncan has contributed more value as measured by wins he has contributed to his team over the course of his career, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.


Personal Metrics

Since Duncan plays closer to the rim, you would expect him to exceed Bryant in the following statistical categories: rebounding percentage (18.5% – 8.2%), rebounds per game (11.1 – 5.3), block percentage (4.6% – 1.0%), and field goal percentage (51% – 45%). On the flip side, Bryant is the more dominant offensive talent – he ranks higher in points per game (25.5 – 20.0), assists per game (4.8 – 3.1), and free-throw percentage (84% – 70%). These stats tell the same story that Timmy_splitter_joke2most casual sports fans assume to be true when thinking about a side-by-side comparison of these players. However consider the following numbers…

Duncan’s player efficiency rating (a measure of per-minute player production) is 1.2 points higher than Bryant’s for over the course of their careers in the regular season and this gap widens to 2.2 points during the playoffs. On the offensive end, Duncan’s effective shooting percentage (adjusts for the fact that 3-point shots are worth more than 2-point shots) is 2% higher in both the regular season and playoffs.

While many people assume that Bryant has been the far more dominant player throughout his career, we can see that Duncan’s value on both the offensive and defensive end not only competes with Bryant’s, but overshadows it in several categories.



Bryant and Duncan have both won 5 championships, but who had the greater impact on those particular championship teams? Let’s take a minute to find out.

In Bryant’s 5 championship-winning seasons he never led the team in Win Shares. From 1999-2002, Shaquille O’Neal held the top spot while Pau Gasol contributed more wins than Bryant for his last two championships from 2008-2010. In contrast, Duncan led his team in Win Shares for 4 out of his 5 championships, with Kawhi Leonard eclipsing him at the top only in this last championship. Shaquille O’Neal was clearly the best player for the Lakers in their 3 consecutive championships; Shaq maintained a higher scoring average and player efficiency rating (by wide margins) over Kobe in all three championship seasons.

Paradoxically, Duncan led his team in Player Efficiency Rating in all 5 championships seasons while toping the scoring column for the Spurs in 3 out of 5 years. Although Duncan’s raw offensive numbers were never as good as Kobe’s during their championship years; Duncan was undoubtedly the more efficient and dominant player during their respective championship runs while the argument could be made that Kobe would only have 2 rings without Shaq.


 The Value of Greatness

Through this brief statistical comparison I am convinced that Tim Duncan is the greatest player of his generation. The value he has given the Spurs over his 17 years is unmatched by any other player during that time. His unique and powerful contributions make his impact on the Spurs greater than Kobe’s impact on the Lakers.

Duncan was unquestionably the best player on 4 out of 5 of his championship teams, while Kobe was the best player for only 2 of the Laker’s 5 championships. Duncan was also the more efficient player who consistently contributed more wins to his team than Bryant; in addition, Duncan always raised his level of play during the playoffs while Bryant’s key metrics (FG%, PER, and Real Shooting Percentage) tended to dip during the most important games of the season.

Tim Duncan was a dynamic package of killer efficiency that adapted his game to his teammates instead of forcing his teammates to adapt to his style – one can only imagine how many championships Kobe could have won if he and Shaq had learned to coexist. Duncan’s value never resided in gaudy stats or eye-popping numbers; rather his greatness was always about something bigger than himself. The real value of his game always resided in his mind numbing consistency and determination to raise the level of his team in whatever capacity he could. In this refusal to elevate his personal desires above the mission of the team he has elevated himself to one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. Tim Duncan never set out to be the greatest player of his generation, all he wanted to do was just “make a difference”, and that is the true value of greatness.

*** All stats and figures taken from Basketball-Reference.com


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