Most of the time, pro basketball players join us during their off-season: typically from June through September. Occasionally, we have a professional that needs to re-hab an injury during their season, and they use us to prepare to rejoin their team. Even more rarely, a player takes time during his season to come and train, turning some time off into an opportunity to get better.
Marc Salyers, one of the top players in international basketball, recently spent a week on the campus of the IMG Academy basketball program training at the Pro Training Center. He spent time on the court with Coaches David Thorpe, Mike Moreau, and Anthony Macri, and did his performance training with Coach Adam Dunham.
Despite Salyers' reputation as one of the best players in the world, he still has sizable room-for-improvement. A 6'8 face-up forward, Marc excels as a long-distance catch & shoot jump-shooter and when he catches and attacks on the move. During his time on-campus, we had Marc focus on three central areas of improvement:
Mid-range scoring - Marc showed us a tremendous feel for the mid-range game, but explained that he rarely (in his words, 'never,') uses it. We tried to show him the value of that area, especially as he gets older and has no choice but to "settle" for mid-range shots.
Ball confidence- The area Marc said he wanted to work on the most was his ball-handling. We felt his handle was actually average-to-above-average. But he didn't believe it--and that meant he had trouble handling the ball against pressure. We had him focus on one simple skill: pounding the ball as hard as possible into the ground. After Coach Moreau's ball-handling blowout workout, Marc was hammering the ball for the rest of the week!
The use of fakes - While he is noted as a great scorer, Marc accomplished this without the use of fakes. He described his game as very clean, and said that rarely, if ever, used shot fakes or freeze fakes. We had him do every shooting drill progression with fakes integrated. It looked like such a natural motion for him that we were surprised he did not use them on a regular basis. In the end, this may be the one expansion of his game that matters the most to him immediately when he returns to competitive play.
Marc was very gracious during his time at the Academy, very outgoing with our full-time athletes and demonstrated for them everything it means to be a professional. And, at the end, he shared a few words about his time at the IMG Academy basketball program. Take a look: