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How NBA Star Landry Shamet Optimizes His Mind & Body for Peak Performance

In Blog

There’s no perfect path to success. There are a variety of things that can change as you pursue your career. There are ups and downs. There are setbacks and successes. If you can focus on each short-term goal in order to build to your long-term goal, you’ll end up exactly where you need to be.

Written by: Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated 

As part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body for Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Landry Shamet, shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers (NBA).

Landry Shamet is a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers (NBA). Born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., Shamet is not only a world-class athlete but also has a captivating story of his path to success.

Shamet had to grow up quickly as a child. As the only son of a single mother, Shamet took on responsibilities that seemed beyond his age well before he reached the NBA. At 2, Shamet could dribble a regulation-sized basketball the length of a court. By 8, when his mother’s work shifts ran long, he was letting himself into the back door at home after school using a key worn around his neck. In middle school, his family lost its duplex to bankruptcy and had to move in with his grandmother, aunt and uncle. In high school, he was confronted with the stunning choice whether or not to contact the father he had never known.

Shamet is known for being clutch in difficult situations — especially with his unstoppable 3-point shot. He has overcome adversity personally in his career due to a debilitating foot injury. Following his freshman season for the Wichita State Shockers, Shamet had surgery to repair a stress fracture on his foot.

Following Shamet’s Sophomore Season at Wichita State he declared for the 2018 NBA draft. In the 2018 NBA draft, Shamet was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers. On February 6, 2019, Shamet was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers where he currently is anxiously awaiting the return of the NBA Season in July 2020.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up as the only son of my single mom in Kansas City, Mo. I had to learn how to take care of myself from the time I was in the first or second grade. Having responsibilities, being held accountable, the whole thing. When I was 8-years old I was basically a “latch key kid” letting myself into the back door of my house because my mom was working long shifts at two jobs to support us.

In middle school, we lost our duplex to bankruptcy. Luckily, we had a strong support network and were able to move in with my grandparents until we found an apartment. Friends delivered gift cards for Hy-Vee groceries, others donated air miles for flights to AAU tournaments in Las Vegas, one family friend even sponsored a season of travel baseball. It was incredible to have such an amazing village of support.

In high school, I was confronted with the choice to contact my dad who I had never known. I decided not to because I felt I had all the support I needed in my village. I wasn’t longing for my dad. I guess you can call me a “mama’s boy.” I never needed a father to fill that void.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high-level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.

One of my earliest sports inspirations was my Uncle, Tyler. As a kid, my mom and I lived with my grandparents, aunt and uncle — it was like “Full House.” My uncle and I were fairly close in age, so he was like a big brother to me. Everything he did I wanted to do too. I specifically remember going to his high school basketball games and dribbling the ball with my mom and grandad during half-time. My uncle was definitely my first role-model when it came to sports.

In middle school I fell in love with the games of Chris Paul and Derrick Rose, watching their YouTube highlights on repeat. I remember there was one YouTube video of Derrick Rose that I would watch every night before bed and it always inspired me. To date, Derrick Rose is my favorite player and the athlete who inspired me to play at a professional level.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I had a lot of support along my journey, but my mom (Melanie) has been my biggest advocate. As a single mom she worked herself to the bone as a waitress at Smokehouse Barbecue and then pulling double shifts at Harrah’s North Kansas City Hotel and Casino, where she’s done everything from housekeeping and laundry to supervising the front desk.

Everybody comes to her for everything because she’s been there for so long. She kind of knows everything and knows everyone at Harrah’s. Despite her prominence at Harrah’s, we often struggled to make ends meet.

In addition to her work ethic, my mom was an incredible athlete herself. She played volleyball at Boise State. We are both on the “athletic wall of fame” at Park Hill High School.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

When I was in Philly during my first year at The Sixers, I had to do “rookie duty.” “Rookie duty” involves doing tasks and running errands for the veteran players. One of my rookie duties was to pick up Chick-Fil-A and other snacks before our flights. On one particular trip we were going to Toronto and then Milwaukee. After practice I was stressed out and scrambling because I still had to make all my rookie duty stops, go back home to pick up my luggage and get to the airport on time for the flight. Luckily, I made it to the airport on time with everything the team needed. Unfortunately, I forgot my passport which I needed since we were flying to Canada. I couldn’t even get on the plane.

The lesson I learned was that you have to make time to take care of yourself. As a pro, regardless of what all you have going on and what other jobs and obligations you have on your plate — you have to make sure you’re all set.

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

There’s no perfect path to success. There are a variety of things that can change as you pursue your career. There are ups and downs. There are setbacks and successes. If you can focus on each short-term goal in order to build to your long-term goal, you’ll end up exactly where you need to be.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am really thrilled to be working with a new beverage brand — Tohi — as an “Athlete Ambassador” Tohi is the first ready-to-drink product made with antioxidant-rich Aronia Berries — which most people have never heard of, but they’re packed with all kinds of health benefits.

Aronia has a high micronutrient profile and contain four times the antioxidant measure of blueberries and twice that of acai. I drink Tohi to improve heart, bone, immune and brain health as a part of my nutrition regimen. Not to mention that Tohi and Aronia Berries have midwestern roots — so it’s great to partner with an innovative company that’s from my hometown.

I hope that being an Athlete Ambassador for Tohi more people will see its incredible health benefits and make Aronia Berries a household name.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

  1. Breath: The simplest and most effective strategy I use in a high-pressure situation is breathing techniques. The one thing you can always control is your breath regardless of what situation you’re in. If I find myself slipping away or getting caught up in potential outcomes, I like to bring my attention back to my breathing.
  2. Midline Mindset: Another mental strategy I use is trying to keep what I call a “midline mindset.” I don’t like to get all amped up before a game. By staying at the midline, I’m not too high or too low. Many great athletes talk about keeping an even-keel mindset while performing. By staying composed and emotionally balanced, you can be more productive, consistent and play at my peak.
  3. Music: I’m big on music and listening to music is a big component to maintaining the midline mindset. I’m a mixed bag when it comes to music — I listen to everything: Hip-hop, R&B, instrumental, electronic, indie, old-soul music, even country. (My college roommates from Wichita State turned me on to country music.) I always listen to music on my ride into the arena to help get into that midline mindset.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques to help optimize yourself?

Not necessarily. The key for me is to recognize my own stressors and use them as a queue to return to my breath. It’s a reminder to be present — and to return to my natural breathing tempo.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

It sounds counter-intuitive, because as a professional athlete we are regimented and have many routines, but leisure time helps me stay focused. Doing things that free my mind, such as reading or going for a bike ride on the beach help me reset.

How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?

 

  1. Antioxidants: I take my nutrition regimen very seriously, which really optimizes my performance. As part of that routine, I drink Tohi that’s made with Aronia Berries, as part of an overall commitment to a healthy lifestyle. I’ve found that it’s a secret elixir that is packed with antioxidants, which can benefit the body in many ways. (But I do also have a love for Kansas City BBQ!)
  2. Compression Therapy: For recovery, I use the NormaTec — a leg compression device that encourages blood flow and removes metabolic waste and lactic acid. The idea behind compression therapy is that by increasing blood flow to specific parts of the body — encouraging your body to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to those areas — I can speed up recovery, relieve pain and improve athletic my performance.
  3. Healthy Mindset: I believe that a healthy mindset manifests positive physiological results. If you feel good about what you’re doing for your body, that goes a long way. For example, any time I drink a Tohi, I know that I’m helping fuel my body with antioxidants and decreasing inflammation. Although I can’t see it on a cellular level, I know mentally that it’s helping my body.

These ideas are excellent, but for most of us in order for them to become integrated into our lives and really put them to use, we have to turn them into habits and make them become ‘second nature’. Has this been true in your life? How have habits played a role in your success?

That’s a funny one… because my habit is to NOT get too caught up in habits. It’s always important to find a rhythm, of course, but my personality needs to feel like I am in control of my outcomes. If doing something every single day isn’t getting me the results that I want the freedom to switch things up.

Can you share some of the strategies you have used to turn the ideas above into habits? What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

N/A

As a high-performance athlete, you likely experience times when things are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a mind state of Flow more often in our lives?

I use a lot of visualization to manifest outcomes. After I warm up for a game, I’ll sit court side and close my eyes and think about where I’m going to get my shots and what those shots look like. Even during a game I’ll close my eyes and visualize the net snapping from a great shot. That helps me to build confidence.

Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

N/A

Many of us are limited by our self-talk, or by negative mind chatter, such as regrets, and feelings of inferiority. Do you have any suggestions about how to “change the channel” of our thoughts? What is the best way to change our thoughts?

Being a professional athlete there are so many ways to let negativity get to you. It’s not uncommon for me to delete social media from my phone for a month or so. I’m not big on social media and it always feels good to be clear of it. It helps me get away from the chaos.

I also try really hard to control my own conversations and the number of voices I have telling me what I need to do. Like — if I’m with my friends and I’m not in a good mind-state to talk about basketball I’ll tell them and change the topic.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My passion is being a role model for young kids. It takes me back to my roots of having such strong role models when I was a kid. Any time I get the chance to say hi, smile or high-five a kid — it brings me so much joy!

That’s why each year I return to Kansas City and host youth basketball camps. I take my responsibility as a role model for kids very seriously. Role models are super influential and important for kids — and not every kid has a great role model, so I try to give back and take a lot of pride in.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

My personal mantra is: “Never Cheated.” To me, it means that if you play fair, work hard and do what’s right, you’ll get a positive outcome. Never cut corners, take handouts, or cheat your process. You control what you can control and work as hard as you can believing that good things come to those who do things the right way. I often use it as a hashtag and even have some #NeverCheated merchandise.

 

Source: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/how-nba-star-landry-shamet-optimizes-his-mind-body-for-peak-performance-3c95d0aeecc0

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