Chris Ballard: Inside the NBA


Earlier this week Chris Ballard wrote an article in the October 26, 2009, issue of Sports Illustrated, about trainer Idan Ravin who works out some of the best players in the NBA. LeBron James,  Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are among the players working out with Idan Ravin, who has no playing or coaching pedigree but knows just what they need to hear.

Below are some interesting parts of the article, but I guess you will hit the link above to read the whole story!

…after moving to San Diego, he began coaching kids two nights a week at a YMCA, using unconventional drills of his own creation. Soon enough, as he recalls, all the kids wanted to be on Mr. Ravin’s team. A few years later, back in the D.C. area, Ravin used those same drills while casually running some workouts for college-level players. His big break came when Steve Francis, then a star at Maryland, showed up at a workout and got hooked. He in turn brought a friend who was also NBA-bound, Elton Brand. One referral led to another, and Ravin’s client base grew.

Many of Ravin’s drills are intended to create a state of confusion. In one he throws tennis balls at a player, who must catch them while maintaining his dribble. (Ravin could be seen doing this in a Nike ad with Anthony a few years back.) The goal is not to improve hand-eye coordination but rather to create sensory overload. “You make the player focus on everything else except the game, so that the game skills become automatic,” explains Ravin. “You try to make the unreasonable feel reasonable.”

When working with NBA players on finishing at the rim, for example, Ravin addresses a common shortcoming: On a drive to the basket, most players bring the ball down as they prepare to jump, exposing the ball to the defense. So Ravin has them keep the ball high as they begin their ascent. To drill the move, Ravin stands to the side of a player, let’s say Carmelo Anthony; as Anthony runs, Ravin keeps his hand waist-high, where the ball is. “I tell him to visualize Earl Boykins [defending],” Ravin says, referring to the superquick, 5′ 5″ former Nuggets guard. “You have to give them someone in the league they recognize to visualize. They all know Boykins and Brevin Knight, guys who have quick hands. So if I say, ‘Brevin Knight is here,’ they think, F—— Brevin Knight, if the ball gets too low, he strips it.”

Enjoy the whole article on Sports Illustrated!


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