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Shooting Lessons: 4 Ways to Make Things Happen

A couple of days ago I was shooting around at my neighborhood basketball court. And unfortunately, my shot was off. And when I say off, I mean way off. I felt like I couldn’t make a shot if my life depended on it. In fact, I even shouted that out loud!

But that’s when I realized what I was doing wrong. Every time I missed a shot, I was reinforcing the idea that I couldn’t make one. And as a result, I kept missing over and over again. But what I was doing wrong wasn’t my only problem. I wasn’t doing enough things right either.

This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was a much better shooter when I was a kid than I am today. Granted, I played almost every day back then. But I was only about five feet tall. And now I’m over six! So physically, there was no reason why I was better back then than I am today.

So I stepped off the court for a little and got to thinking: If what made me better as a kid wasn’t physical, then it had to be mental. So, the question became: What did I do differently as a kid that I wasn’t doing now?

Then it hit me. On the basketball court as a kid, I didn’t see myself as just a kid (what I was). In my imagination, I was me in an adult form (what I am today ironically), playing alongside basketball greats like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. But that wasn’t good enough for me. I had to be the one who THEY passed it to when the game was on the line with just seconds remaining.

Here are the steps I took when I was shooting the “buzzer beater” in my mind when I was a kid:

1.     Make Positive Affirmations: Before I shot the ball, I told myself “This is going in” and “I am a great shooter!”

2.     Visualize It Happening: Then, I visualized the ball going in. Not just the part where the ball swishes through the hoop (the end result) but also the path the ball traveled along the way to the hoop.

3.     Take Action: Then, I shot it! As I was jumping up into the air I kept visualizing what I wanted to happen and re-affirmed to myself “This is going in!”

4.     Act as If: After the ball left my fingertips, I held my arm up in the air where it was when I last touched the ball. This is called “following through” in the basketball world. Not only does this help your form, it exudes confidence in your shot. I was “acting as if” the shot I took was going in.

With these steps fresh in my mind, I stepped back onto the court. And all of the sudden my shots started going in. I can’t tell you that I made every shot afterwards (if I did I’d be trying out for the NBA), but I can tell you that I was making most of them.

I learned an important lesson that day. If my attitude and mindset could help me achieve a simple goal like shooting a basketball, what else could it help me achieve? A goal is a goal no matter how big or small it is. Whether it is having a successful business, getting a promotion, losing weight, or shooting a ball though a hoop, we should approach each and every one of our goals with the steps above.

Sure, you may not need to do it when it comes to the small goals in life. But following these steps will not only help you achieve those small goals, they will also reinforce your habit of doing them so you’ll do them naturally when it comes to your bigger goals.

David Rahimi is a freelance blogger and the voice behind

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17 Responses to Shooting Lessons: 4 Ways to Make Things Happen

  1. Steven says:

    I would also add: let go of your failures. Everyone’s gotta miss some shots every now and then, but the key is being able to rebound faster (pun intended).

    I use the visualization + positive affirmations when I play beer pong too – they definitely work. Also, keep in mind visualization works best when you imagine yourself going through the whole process (not just visualizing the end result). Imagine yourself actually making the motions, the ball leaving the tips of your fingers, and then traveling to the hoop.

    The stronger your imagination the better. If you can actually FEEL your body tightening its muscles and getting read to push the ball – it makes the visualization even more powerful. EMBODY your imaginations.

    Good tips!

  2. Hey David,
    Great way of breaking this down, I enjoyed this!

  3. Paula says:

    Steven I agree totally. Anyone who truely succeeds has hit failure multiple times. They not only believe they can and will rise to the top. They brush off the moments when they don’t and move on toward the goal. Great point. Thanks for the insight David.

  4. David says:

    Thanks. I agree. Its important to not let “missed shots” get you down.. In basketball a missed shot is just feedback. You look at where the ball went and how you have to adjust on your next try. You’re supposed to get better with every shot you take (make or miss) because you have that much more experience.

    Of course in basketball, we don’t stop shooting the ball just because we miss a few times. If anything it motivates us to shoot more until we start getting it right. We should have this same attitude when it comes to our goals in real life as well.

  5. Hey David,
    I know what you are talking about. When we are in the zone we can make almost any shot. When were are in a funk we are lucky if we could hit the backboard.

  6. Allan says:

    I believe putting yourself in the right emotional state is crucial for what outcome you’ll get. Especially with martial arts.

    Believing you can go through that wooden board makes the difference between punching through it, or breaking every bone in your hand.

  7. Clint Cora says:

    I can certainly relate to this post although I’m not a basketball player. However, I spend many years in martial arts competition and the principles that were suggested in the post are sound for any activity as well. One thing I found is video analysis of one’s performance is a very good tool for improvement as well as using feedback from others as coaches. Getting another set of eyes is important. Even Michael Jordan believed in this as he said that he always benefitted from the feedback by his coaches throughout his career.

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  9. Connie Lee says:

    You are SO right, David. We are what we think. The Universe gives us exactly what we expect.

    Kudos to you for re-thinking this process, through the eyes of your youth. We tend to overthink things and make them more complicated than they are.

    I wrote about this in a post on my blog. You can find the post here:


  10. David says:

    It’s amazing that as children we had such great imaginations. But it seems that we let society and circumstances limit that imagination as we grow older to the point where a lot of us CAN’T imagine (visualize) a lifestyle other than the one we currently have. Which results in us never quite getting the lifestyle that we want.

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  13. Mike says:


    I went through the same “buzzer beater” process when shooting hoops as a kid — reading your post brought back a flood of memories.

    And like you, I had forgotten – or overlooked – what a powerful process that was. Time to retrofit and upgrade that process and apply it to my current life and goals.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  14. Diane says:

    This is my 1st time visiting here &, boy! Am I glad I did! I’ve been unemployed for 6 mos. (THIS time!…18 mos. the Last time!) &, David, reading your blog has motivated me to continue pulling out the most positive feelings from w/in my core w/ every cover letter/resume I submit! I’ve resorted to applying to manufacturing jobs (I’m a hospitality professional) out of desperation & even those companies haven’t called back (over qualified???) I’d just about thrown in the towel! But I’m not giving up b’cuz I KNOW that MY job is out there & we WILL find each other!!

  15. hitanjan says:

    i am not a basketball player but i am a cricketer. if i follow this steps will i be benifited??i have failed much more times to score runs so i want any idea to get run.i am much disappointed because my practice session is also right.

  16. laureta says:

    woow AMAZING !

  17. şömine says:

    But what I was doing wrong wasn’t my only problem. I wasn’t doing enough things right either.şöminemp3bilgisayar

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