Arike Ogunbowale on the Mental Approach to Basketball

Professional and collegiate basketball champion Arike Ogunbowale shares her insight on how confidence can boost your game.

Being confident in your skills is crucial in any sport. In basketball, situations can occur when you’re one-on-one against an opposing player. You can also be double-teamed if the opposing defense knows you’re a threat. Having confidence and preparing yourself for those types of situations can help make you a better player.

Professional basketball player and collegiate champion Arike Ogunbowale says that having a winning mindset starts with believing in your own abilities.

“I approach every game that nobody can guard me … I go into the game thinking whoever’s in front of me, that I’ll be able to take them,” Ogunbowale says. “And I think that’s a good mindset to have … It gives you a lot of confidence.”


Preparation is key to having confidence. Ogunbowale emphasizes the importance of sharpening your basketball knowledge before a game. This can include studying the playbook or getting back to the fundamentals.

“You can be physically ready for things, but people get smarter as time goes on,” she says.

Ogunbowale suggests watching film on opponents and studying their movements. This can be pivotal for one-on-one situations. For example, imagine a player is known to take it to the right side of the court. You can use this knowledge to prepare yourself to position your body between the ball and the basket.

However, watching film doesn’t just start and end with studying the competition. Learning about your own game can help you find your weak spots and identify where you need to improve. Ogunbowale says that she looks for how people guard her. You can also watch and take notes on your footwork, shooting skills and other areas of play. “Try to get your basketball IQ to the highest level,” she says.

Whether it’s hitting the video room to study your opponent or putting in extra time during practice, preparation can help the process of building your confidence.

Looking for more basketball tips from championship-winning pros? Elena Delle Donne talks about the importance of being a leader with these Pro Tips.