Is Hard Work Always Enough?

A. B. mentality

By: Ryan Sypkens

CEO & Lead instructor at Syp’s Touch Shooting

One of the biggest misconceptions in athletics is the notion that if you physically work hard every day then you will reach great success. Hard work is definitely a necessary component to finding success, but it is not the only necessary element. To achieve great success and reach aspirations one must create the habit of working HARD, SMART, and CONSISTENT. Many are achieving one of these elements, and even less than that achieve two; but very few achieve all three on a consistent basis.

Achieving all three elements is very challenging and the average person’s mental framework hinders their ability to accomplish this. The good news is that this mental framework – habitual thinking patterns influencing assumptions that have a direct negative or positive affect on behavior patterns – can be changed with proper training!

In Sacramento California, a…

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Goal Setting to WIN!!!


Steph Curry

Having an involved goal setting process is a key to attaining any dream or vision, and is recommended to anyone trying to accomplish something of significance and specifically athletes. Setting goals help to increase motivation, commitment, direction, and helps to assess strengths and weaknesses. In addition, having a goal setting process can help an individual track their progress and
know when they are behind their set time-table.


For younger aspiring players, it is important to involve coaches and parents in this process. In fact, parents and coaches can and should help student-athletes to set goals. If every party invested in the athlete’s success are aware of and understand the athlete’s goals, that support system will greatly increase the likelihood of success. If there is a coach that doesn’t value goal setting but you would like them to be included in individual and/or team goals, it may be in your best interest to approach the coach in a diplomatic fashion. Instead of informing the coach of what he is lacking in his or her philosophy, maybe say, “I read an interesting article outlining the importance of goal setting that I would like to share with you.”


There are four types of goals that every athlete should set: Long term, intermediate, short term, and immediate or process goals. Process goals aid in keeping the athlete progressing on a daily basis and builds confidence. Perfectionists may view every goal as a task to accomplish and may cause burn out. Instead it is better to uses these process goals as general and adaptable guidelines. Long-term goals are the end goals that the athlete wishes to accomplish, such as getting a college scholarship or getting a professional contract. Intermediate goals are not necessarily long term, but are down the road a bit. This may include losing 15 pounds before the season starts or breaking a record. Short-term goals are those that are right in front of you, such as getting a particular grade on an upcoming exam. Immediate or process goals are the daily goals that are set out, such as running 2 miles for a warm-up, or shooting 450 shots before the day ends. All of these goals are vital and equally important.


S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting


S Specific goal setting is important. Setting vague result in little motivation and direction. Knowing exactly what you want to accomplish helps give a sense of direction.


M – Measureable If you can’t measure your progress then there is no way to track if you are moving towards achieving your goals. Assign a quantitative scale to measure your goal, whether it’s time, amount of money, how many pounds to lose in a given amount of time, or a shooting percentage increase, you must be able to track and measure it.


A – Adaptable and Achievable Goals must be achievable and adaptable. This means keeping your goals realistic. If you are 7 foot tall, the chances of you becoming and Olympic level gymnast are slim to none. Therefore this goal is not achievable. Adaptable means that they can be altered when needed in order to better fit the current circumstances.


R – Realistic Set a realistic goal. This goes hand and hand with achievable. Make your time table a realistic measure for you to achieve.


T – Time Based Goals must be time based and always have a different time limit. This gives a deadline and thus puts more pressure on the goal setter to take action daily. It is important to have a finish line and this will help you develop your plan of action or goal schedule.




Now that you know the guidelines of successful goal setting, do the following exercises to help get started:


  1. Write Down One Sport Goal for the season or off-season:


  1. Explain how each part of your goal satisfies each principle of SMART goal setting:


  1. Create a table that outlines your immediate or process goals to your long term or dream goal. Every long term goal should have a immediate, short term, and intermediate that helps lead up to reaching your dreams.


  1. List two places where you were post your goals so you can see them everyday.


  1. List one person you will share your goals with. Make sure this person will support and hold you accountable!


  1. Next, write down 3 goals that you have a high desire to accomplish: one sports goal, one academic and/or work goal, and one goal of choice (sport, academic, personal, ect.):


  1. Create a plan of action, and create a daily list of goals that will help you achieve.


A Mental Approach

(Inspired by world renowned performance psychologist Ken Baum)

The brain is the most powerful and least understood organ in the human body. Science has been able to measure many causations and correlations between brain processes and their effects, but the reasons why these phenomena exist and exactly how they work are often unknown. The thinking patterns that you train your brain to have directly affect everything about your life including your health, happiness, and performance potential. For example, negative thinking patterns are scientifically proven to reduce health and life expectancy. In an article published by The Lancet, San Diego researches examined 30,000 Chinese Americans and compared them to over 400,000 randomly selected white people. The found that the Chinese Americans die significantly earlier when they were strongly attached to traditional Chinese superstitions that predicted their early deaths. The data suggests that life expectancy could not be explained by genetic factors, lifestyle choices, behavior, the skill of the doctors, or any other variable. It was concluded that the reason for their premature deaths are not because of their Chinese genes, but rather because of their Chinese beliefs. They believed in the superstition thus causing them to believe they will die younger, and they did. Another studied showed that 79% of medical students report developing symptoms suggestive of the illnesses they are studying. Their bodies were reacting to the paranoia of getting sick by getting sick. There are hundreds of other studies that have similar results and they all suggest that negative thinking patterns have negative effects.

In order for your brain to function in a manner that promotes the most performance excellence requires a great deal of training and exercise. Making sure your mental fitness matches your ambition is vital to reaching your goals. There are many techniques that can help you do this but today I will focus on changing your thinking habits and visualization.

Changing Thinking Habits

There are two ways to perceive your world: positively and negatively. As a professional basketball player in Japan, I had to deal with a lot of adversity and still find a way to perform. The team I was playing for was not paying us what they owed and our coach was an alcoholic who didn’t know how to coach basketball past an elementary level. These were very difficult obstacles that I faced and had to find a way to still do my job to the best of my ability everyday. I easily could’ve complained about these obstacles and used it as a reason to stop trying, but instead I decided to look at the situation differently. Instead of seeing myself as a victim, I saw the opportunity as something that is making me a stronger and more resilient person, as well as capitalizing on the opportunity to see other parts of the world. By doing this I was able to have a good attitude and relentless effort everyday I came in to do my job. This was a “winners” attitude that allowed me to maintain a high performance level.

Write down:

  • 5 limiting beliefs you have about yourself
  • Is there any evidence that any or all of these may not be true?
  • How did you develop these beliefs?
  • Are they keeping you from getting what you want?
  • If so, what can you do to change them?
  • Who can you talk to about this? What can you read or listen to? How can you defocus a belief and limit its negative impact?
  • 5 positives beliefs you have about yourself
  • How can you use these beliefs more effectively?


The term visualization implies that this technique only involves sight but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Imagery is most effective when you create the most vivid picture incorporating all 5 senses. A talented visualizer can create an image that has so much detail that they create every smell, sound, taste, and the way objects feel when they are touched. This allows the moment to be experienced as if it were truly happening. Next, be sure these images are positive. Picture yourself accomplishing your biggest goals, or playing an amazing game tomorrow night in the championship game.

  • Know exactly what goal you want to accomplish through visualization.
  • Imagery should be personal, positive, and extremely detailed.
  • Focus on experiencing every emotion and feeling.
  • Don’t force the visualization; you will get better with practice.
  • Visualization results don’t come over night. Success takes patience and dedication.
  • Always do your visualization exercise before an important upcoming event or game



These exercises were taken from Ken Baum’s Mind over business book. Buy his Mind Over Business and The Mental Edge books here:


 Baum, K., & Andelman, B. (2012). Mind Over Business: How to Unleash Your Business and Sales Success by Rewiring the Mind/Body Connect i

Fundamentals for Success

The fundamental skills of basketball are foundation of every play, offensive or defensive strategy, and every complicated skill stems from a fundamental skill. Perfecting the basic fundamentals is the first important and necessary step to becoming a GREAT basketball player.


Too often, youth coaches attempt to teach young athletes complicated skills and strategies well before their fundamentals are developed enough to be successful. I’ve seen youth trainers set up complicated two ball dribbling drills, 15 cones on the court for a drill resembling and obstacle course, and youth coaches implementing a full court press before they can even execute a half court defense, ect (et cetera).


In any sport, whether you’re a professional athlete or a youth player who just picked up the ball, strong fundamentals are vital for success.


What are the fundamentals? Fundamentals are the small nuances of the game that set the foundation for every other skill to be built. For example. Syp’s Touch Shooting Philosophy focuses on the fundamental skills of shooting first, such as foot alignment, leg bend, hand position, arm angle, follow through, and so on. From there we go on to build on the more complicated skills such as shooting off the dribble, using screens, ect. (et cetera)


For young athletes, it is important to focus on fundamental skills, such as:


  • Footwork, jab steps, pivoting
  • Lay ups
  • Shooting
  • Foul shooting
  • Dribbling/ball-handling
  • Jump stops
  • Triple threat position
  • Basic screening cutting
  • Defense, defensive strategies
  • Rebounding, boxing out
  • Basic post moves


Once your athletes begin to master some of these skills, it is good for them move on to more complicated skills.

Basketball training is about continuous progress, but at the same time keeping the fundamental skills sharp throughout a career.

Focusing on the fundamentals with young athletes will allow them to have fun, develop their capacity to learn, and ultimately improve their game. In the long-run, these athletes will show a great deal of appreciation for learning the right way to play at such a young age.


Syp’s T.O.U.C.H. Shooters Philosophy

Every year basketball is evolving into a game that relies more and more on the analytical tactics that coaches are applying. In addition, the traditional two guard, two forward, and one center line-up is changing into a three guard, two forward line-up where every player is becoming more versatile. In particular, players at every position are becoming GREAT SHOOTERS and coaches are moving towards offenses that spread the floor and rely on consistent outside shooting from multiple positions.

Syp’s T.O.U.C.H. Shooting Academy has developed a five-step shot building and improvement program that incorporates all the necessary skills and knowledge to become a great in-game shooter.

Remember, practices doesn’t make perfect…


Touch (Step 1): Touch is developed using one handed form shooting while maintaining PERFECT form. Elbow 90 degrees, upper arm parallel to the hardwood, focus on elbow moving straight up with full extension through follow through, ball on the pads of finger, leaves index and middle finger last.

One-Motion (Step 2): Shot is executed all in one-motion and always leaves hand on the way up. Ideally the shot begins as the jump begins. Power comes from legs. Toe, knee, hip, elbow, hand alignment with rim.

Understand (Step 3): Student is taught to create space in many different ways against all the different defensive strategies he or she may encounter. Space can be created by using the dribble, using screens, setting screens, and understand the general movement of offensive players and defensive rotations. This will be accomplished by the use of film study and specialized drills designed to challenge decision-making and response to situations.

Core (Step 4): Functional core strength is vital to consistent shooting. Our warm-ups will consist of core strengthening and functional exercises to improve core strength and balance. Core strength helps the student prepare before the shot, catch in athletic position, and always be on balance regardless of how fast they must move or change direction to create space.

Hale (Step 5): Hale refers to the STRONG base and relentless condition that we will help develop in are student athletes. This includes leg strength, core, balance, and conditioning. A great shooter is constantly moving and able to do so without becoming fatigued. This is necessary in order to maintain consistency.


This is the fundamental philosophy of Syp’s T.O.U.C.H. shot building formula. When training a student who’s main focus is to become a great shooter, we will use these steps to develop their personalized training program. SypieLBC