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In his 20-year career, Kobe Bryant has proven himself to be one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NBA. His accomplishments include 5 NBA championships, being 18-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA team, and 2-time NBA leading scorer.

Without a doubt, he had great natural abilities. But was that the only thing that set him apart?

Here are 5 things we know played a key role in his success:

Kobe never stopped learning about the game

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Even after all his achievements, he was always looking for ways to improve his techniques and achieve even the slightest edge over his competition. He spent time studying the game, watching past players and researching his opponents. In short, he never stopped learning about how he could become better.

Kids and beginners can learn from this too. What’s stopping you from learning about different styles, past players, and current heroes? Ask for advice from coaches and other players – get them to critique your style and talk you through things that might help. Shift your mentality to one of constant improvement, and you’ll find ways to change and improve your game.

He developed versatility in his game

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One of Kobe’s major strengths was his versatility in the offence. When on the attack, Kobe was skilled at everything from long range three-pointers to landing jump shots from the post. It didn’t matter what the challenge was – he could meet it.

When practicing, challenge yourself to mix it up. Practice all elements so that you can always score when you need to and so that you can keep your opponents guessing.

The other major benefit to developing versatility is that things change: players come and go, teammates get injured or change up their positions. The more versatile you are, the more valuable you will be for your team.

There’s no substitute for hard work

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Natural ability will only get you so far. Truly great players, Kobe included, work on their game in one way or another every single day.

Kobe had a tenacious work ethic even through high school, arriving at 5 am for early morning practice then staying until at least 7 pm. He continued this through his career. When he was part of the London Olympic team in 2008, there were stories of him training for three hours before each official training session started.

Think about how much faster, fitter and more confident you’ll feel on the court if you train twice as much as all your competitors.

Keeping Your Cool Under Pressure

Kobe Bryant was an expert at this: he could remain calm until the perfect moment, then strike with relentless speed and precision: a trademark that earnt him the nickname ‘Black Mamba.”

Being able to do drills and practice is one thing but being able to maintain your focus and succeed under pressure is something else again. What about when the audience is yelling, the defence is at your heals, and the team is relying on you scoring? All these things, and your ability to manage them, can make a huge difference to how you perform on the day.

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Goal Setting Was Key To Kobe’s Success

When you set clear goals, you can break them down into small, achievable sections and map out a pathway to success. This is something that Kobe identified very early on in his career and training.

Write down specific goals and give them a timeline. Break them down into daily actions and sub-goals. Look at them regularly and keep them in mind as you approach your training and playing.

These five things have been key in driving Kobe to achieve the most celebrated career in NBA history. What can they do for you?

To learn more about how to play basketball like the pros, visit Australian Sports Camps and take a look at our opportunities to join our three-day training camps with some of the best coaches in Australia!