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Trainer Take: Time Off To Take Off

First, I want to apologize for the delay in blogs and topics. We had a great NBA Pre-Draft Class here at IMG Academies. Doubling business is good, but I guess I forgot about the double work part.

The initial set of blogs brought both praise and backlash from varying fields. “Trainer” can have so many definitions. Just as I had provoked thought, the feedback had provided great challenge and conversation. That is the thing I have loved about my career as a basketball “skills trainer and career consultant” and mostly about working at IMG Academies. Learning from and meshing disciplines for more results. This takes me to my topic for this week: Does extended time off from normal seasonal activities increase a 1%er’s ability to perform?

While grinding it out on the court with our players, I have had the professional pleasure of watching the IMG Madden Football Academy Director Coach Chris Weinke prepare Cam Newton for the upcoming rigors of his rookie campaign. Weinke is the best; just like I love being in the gym all day and night, this guy will doesn’t sleep when his clients have a bad day on the field.

Cam is a 1%er, and not because he was the 1st pick or won a national championship. He has bigger than prototypical size, athleticism, and skill at his position. Another major factor in the 1%er theory is early identification. This is where a kid 13-18 does not lead a normal teenage life, because of his success on a national level in his sport and constant long term potential conversations.

Cam is a beast with his workout routine, he uses creatine ethyl ester to improve his gains, and he’s passionate about getting better – I am not impressed by anyone who considers 50 hours a week work. I have seen Kobe and KG put in work, and that look in Cam’s eye is the same (of course my favorite part was watching him shoot around with our international campers in the night time). This dedication to the classroom, field, and performance training is one thing, but getting the tag team expertise of different disciplines is fun to watch and learn from.

Last summer I had two 1%er projects that we used similar systems to develop. Shawne Williams, who had been out of the NBA for over a year and Derek Caracter, whose high school phenom straight to the NBA plans were curtailed by David Stern’s “one and done” mandate. We were lucky enough to have them for nearly 5 straight months. On court skill training, performance work, film study, vision training, motivation work and number one priority, nutritional education. The results were great. Shawne had a great year with the New York Knicks and Derek was drafted by the repeating champ Los Angeles Lakers. More importantly, it was a change from the norm and a time for them to focus on exactly what they needed.

This school year we had the pleasure of working with another 1%er, Deandre Daniels, a highly ranked academically qualified player who decided not to enter college and work on his game and body. This prep year was much different than the Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler overseas experiments. The two-a-day skills and weightlifting sessions were much more than the 20 hours per week he would have got had he gone to school this year.

His recent commitment UCONN is a great fit and Coach Loren Jackson and Stephen Visk did an unbelievable job of getting Deandre’s mind and body ready to be an impact player for the National Champs. Another example of a 1%er taking time off from the norms to work at different disciplines to come out way ahead before entering his next challenge.

As I think about Terrell Pryor’s next move, I think he should take a step back to take a step forward. My Pittsburgh roots have me rooting for him to overcome all this adversity. Not work on his off-field issues, but with his skills, mind and body. Improve and learn what it takes to be the best at the next level. The best at reading defensive schemes, 5 step drops, and working with personnel 3-10 years older.

Though college can help immensely, a personal “pro plan” might have you more ready for impact regardless of where you land and what your bonuses are. Pryor has flaws as a quarterback, and 6 months of working with a dedicated develop program, watching film, enhancing his body and footwork is a lot better than being a 4th string QB that they are talking about moving positions after the supplemental draft. Worst case, his transition to the NFL is much easier.

Time off, mixing disciplines with experts, and personal attention with a plan might be what every 1%er athlete needs to make that next step a sure thing. I would love to hear other stories and thoughts about this.