OK, still hoping to get you some video from Day 1 of training like a pro at IMG in Florida.
In the meantime, here are some observations:
- IMG is a magnet for elite athletes from high school on up. The thing about walking around this campus is that it is wall-to-wall young athletes who would be the most natural athletes in any high school in America. I wish you could have seen this one dude I saw from the car yesterday. As much of an athlete-looking guy as you will ever see anywhere. You look at all those skinny waists, six-pack abs, defined calf muscles ... and it has a couple of effects on how I think about athletes. The first is that it makes me think that super elite athlete bodies are almost commodities. It must be sobering for those kids to get here, and for the first time, everybody looks like them. It also makes me think that if you don't have one of those bodies? You're facing some long odds.
- Along those lines, when David Thorpe introduced us regular-looking journalists to one of the strength coaches here, he cocked an eyebrow and said: "A little shorter than the regular guys, aren't they?" Not since seventh grade have I felt the urge to explain or defend my height.
- On the court, led my Coach Mike Moreau, we did "dynamic stretching." There's a lot to it, but more or less it's a series of stretching movements that you can do while making your way running or stepping across the court. Seemed pretty effective too. And the gym is hot. We each got our own towel before the session, and I used mine again and again just during the stretching.
- Then we spent a lot of time each at our own hoops, following simple instructions. Make a jumper from here. Dribble from the wing and make a jumper from there. Coaches circulated reminding us to jump straight up and down ... stuff like that. A lot of that was hand-specific, and the left-handed stuff was fun to watch, for sure.
- In groups of three, we worked on making one long dribble from the free throw line, to make a short jumper. Then we did that with a pump fake (all you need to move is the ball and your eyes -- that big pump movement you did in high school is a waste of movement) then a jab step, then those in combination, which is a rocker step.
- All throughout, Coach Moreau told us all kinds of interesting stuff. One of the most memorable things to me was the idea that this is a laboratory where it is good to find errors. Just working on what you're good at ... that's not what the best players do. In this gym, turnovers and mistakes are signs you're discovering and working on fixing weaknesses. The best players love to discover new weaknesses, although they hate them and work hard to correct them immediately. It's a good way to think about time on the basketball court.