Coleman Ayers, Player Development | Hoop Story #048

Coleman Ayers, Player Development | Hoop Story #048

Can you tell me a little bit about your basketball journey so far?

I grew up  in DC. I’ve always said that, or at least argue that it's the best area for youth basketball. At least in the country, therefore, the world. 

I grew up in a competitive setting, basketball wise, great area. It bred me to compete with a lot of these guys who are now at a high level. I grew up playing every sport, but really, I always kind of knew basketball was my thing, and never really wanted to do anything other than something related to basketball. So that's kind of where it all started for me. 

Fast forward a little bit to high school and that's where everything was like, Alright, I'm a five, eight at the time, little scrawny white kid, who is now trying to just scrape myself into a system that had 13 or 14 D1 players. I went to a school called St. John's College High School. At the time we ranked top 10 nationally every year. So I found myself once again,  a scrawny kid who just had to work my butt off for everything. But that set the tone for the next couple years, which were to me all about how I can engineer myself or reverse engineer this process to figure out what makes the best athletes. I started experimenting, training myself for two to three years. Fell in love with that through the process. Process of just kind of always learning. I was probably 15 years old reading scientific journal articles on strength and conditioning. I'll do top sports psychology, really everything I could get my hands on that would help me in that journey. 

So through that other people started to kind of tag along. Had some teammates that I started training, and then really started training at a somewhat higher volume. I probably had about 8 kids that I trained when I was 16 years old. So I got a really early start with the training. Was gonna play d3 ball out in LA, was basically dead set on that decision come my senior year. But I kind of had a last minute change of heart and was like, do I really want to do this? I love playing but I think my main passion is getting other athletes better. Breaking down what makes or what creates the most effective process possible to improve an athlete, both on and off the court. 

At that fork in the road decided to come down to the University of Miami. That was a very unexpected situation, I got a full scholarship there. That was like something that I didn't even expect, I was fully expecting to hoop. But they kind of threw that my way. So I was like, I don't know if I can turn this down. I ended up down here in Miami, been here for like six years now. I've been training really since I got down here. It's really started to take off in the last few years. I've been building up my online brand. 

It's still growing but I've been kind of grinding away at building this global platform where I can just help athletes get top tier information for six years now. So that's taken me to some cool places for sure. I’ve ran clinics in other countries but I think the coolest thing is the process of everything. Seeing how everything comes together. A small brand that I created when I was 16 is now kind of at the heart of this new gym. Which is called Detail.

It must have been a pretty difficult decision for you to not pursue hoops as a player. Was that a difficult decision for you?

Yes, absolutely. It's funny, I was the only kid on my team that didn't go D1. It was like 14 kids went D1 or at least at some point on track going D1. And I'm like the odd man out. I was coming from a really competitive environment. You feel the pressure to play college ball just to kind of validate yourself. While that was still that was my goal, that's what I worked my butt off for four years to do. It was definitely tough and it felt like I was kind of letting all that hard work go. When in reality, all of that set me up to do what I do now. Which an interesting dynamic, this is one of those things you don't see at first. Well I just worked for five years to not get anything out of it. 

Now I'm kind of looking back on it. I'm like, Oh, well if I hadn't been putting in that work, if I hadn't been really researching and experimenting on myself, I wouldn't be where I'm at from the training side. So it turned out to be one of those “everything happens for a reason” moment. It was undoubtedly the toughest decision of my life. It changed the course of it for the better.

What’s your earliest basketball memory?

This is a good brain exercise. I use this as an analogy sometimes. In third grade, my best friend and I would show up 2 hours before school, and we would be trying new things out. Creating new moves, playing one on one and we had no idea what we're doing. We were just having fun with the game and enjoying it. It just kind of grew year by year, it got more structured, but I think that kind of unstructured play, just free flowing and going out there and having fun with the game is something that I don't forget. That's something that I really try to still implement into my training and in my day to day life. 

Basketball, ultimately, is a game that we pick up to have fun with. So I always bring that back to that early memory, and it always reminds me of why I started this. Whenever I do feel like damn this is getting really tough, whether it's on the business side, opening a gym, feeling like you're not making any progress. I like to revert back to the craft, the love for the game. That’s at the heart of everything I do now. 

Who are some people you admire/look up to? Doesn’t have to be hoops related.

I get this question, a good amount, like who's been your role model? It's tough to really identify one. I've always had an extremely diverse group around me. Friends who are extremely real with me, and telling me stuff straight up. Coming from an area like DC everyone is so closely packed in the city. It makes it one of the more diverse areas. You start to pick up buddies from really every walk of life. I have friends in my close circle that I hooped with some that I didn't hoop with from all parts of DC and that have different views on everything. That blend of people around me I started to look up to different pieces of them. 

I’ve been extracting things from everyone. One of my boys is an artist, he's unbelievably creative. He's killing it with that. So I kind of look up to him, in that sense. One of my other best friends is in his fifth year right now at university playing football. He's been injured for like two straight seasons. I look up to that perseverance where if I get a delay on the business side, I'm like, yo, this dude's going through it way more than I have. I kind of take everything from people around me and try to mix them in and admire those things. 

When did player development become something to consider as a career path for you?

I would say probably 15 years old. As soon as I started to really dive into everything, I just fell in love with it. Just experimenting with it, at that age training other kids my age for free. I never felt like I was working. Even when I did start to make money. Still to this day don't. It's always been something that I've always wanted to do. I did all my school projects on preventing injuries, kind of nerdy stuff. Not your standard high school projects. 

I've always kind of had that in the back of my mind. I'm the type of guy who once I get something in my mind, it has to be done. But thankfully, I've always really enjoyed it and loved it. It's starting to become something where it's branching off into different avenues. 

I've seen your content on Instagram and YouTube. When did you start developing content and how important is that to your brand?

I started pretty early, it was honestly a medium for myself to study at first. I remember the first video I ever made a Steph Curry step back or something. I was actually on the way to a travel basketball tournament. I'm about to play a game and I was like a big Steph fan at the time. I was watching his film, and downloaded iMovie to teach myself these kinds of details. I made this so I decided to put it up on YouTube. I kept doing that and for whatever reason, it started to gain some traction. I was 16 year old at this point and kind of rolled with that for a little bit. Then started to really dive deeper into the content and made it an emphasis rather than a hobby. 

It's something that I've been building up for a while and now it's unbelievably important to my brand.  I know how important it is to the kid over in whatever country that can't afford basketball training. Now they are able to see my content, hopefully apply it and improve not only their game, but off the court as well. That’s something that is very central to my brand and what I do. So I always want to make sure that it's top notch quality, that it's something that people can digest and apply practically. 

You sound like a content guy yourself. Not a lot of coaches or trainers have that in their arsenal. 

For sure. That's something that I'm trying to help and consult other coaches with. Especially because I know a lot of really good coaches and trainers who are really smart, guys and girls, they just don't really have the knack for the content component, which is completely understandable. That's just not something that comes naturally with it. But since I've been able to do it for so long, I kind of hit that wave a little bit early. It's like clockwork for me now. So I'm trying to help other people get into that and get it to the point where other people can capitalize on it. And I'm not the only one. 

Now there are a ton of people who are pumping out really good content, but anyone who needs help and has a really good view from a technical or basketball side. I want to make sure that they're able to get their ideas out there.

Between training and putting clinics together, how do you have time to actually create this content?

It's just priorities. There will be weeks where I'll put out one or two videos, where I normally put out five or six just because I get interested in something, I'm reading three books on something, I'm running more workouts or someone on the business side is kind of demanding more attention from me. Then there'll be some weeks when I really want to go crazy on the content. So it kind of ebbs and flows. I would say, just kind of understanding at all times which one is the highest point on your list of priorities is key because you're gonna have to sacrifice something.

I like the way you break down plays and you dive deep into aspects of the game that people would overlook. Have you always had that attention to detail? Or is that something you've learned along the way?

I've always desired to have that attention to detail. When I watch my old videos I hate them because they're not the level of quality that it is now and I would hope so because that obviously means I have improved at my craft. But the first video I ever made was under the attention to detail mantra. That's always been my goal, to develop this attention to detail about the game and it's gotten better and better as I've gone. 

Now it's the point where I'm confident in my abilities to really dissect the game and everything that goes into it but wasn't always that way. But I will say that I've always had the idea in my mind that I wanted it to be that way.

Speaking about details, can you tell me a little bit about Detail Mia, and how that came about?

I know a lot of people who wish that during lockdown, they were able to plan stuff out that they never really got to beforehand. Sitting around for a couple months and not being able to train I found myself kind of scraping together a business plan. I frankly got tired of renting other people's gyms, the inconsistency, training outdoors under the hot ass Miami sun. Again I’m someone who, whenever something comes into my mind, and I commit to it, it's going to get done. Hence the By Any Means. 

I started searching and threw myself fully into the process. Once I really immersed myself, and the idea of getting my own gym, I would say it took a long  seven months to even find a place. Definitely one of the hardest things I've done in terms of my career, and overall persistence of getting denied from places and all that. Long story short, I eventually found this space in Miami Lakes. I loved it. It was enough space for a regulation size court, a weight room, and some offices and a recovery room. I figured why not and signed the lease in June. 

Since then, I've been just kind of trying to make it as quality as I can for all the athletes that come in here and give them the best experience.

Detail stands for something correct?

Yes - Designing & Engineering The Athlete for Integrity & Longevity. Designing & Engineering represents my scientific perspective behind it. Everything comes from a basis of looking as deep as I can into the process of finding the best drills, the best schedule, the best nutrition, finding the best possible ways to engineer an athlete in a way to become a better basketball player. Then the integrity and longevity -  integrity represent the performance side of it. So you can take this on the court. Whether that's how they play on the court or that's the integrity they have off the court. It's always been more than basketball for me. 

I think the two fit and you can’t only train someone on the court without affecting their lives in a positive way off the court. One of my big focuses is availability, the best ability is availability. So longevity is emphasizing how I want to make sure that athletes are in it both physically and psychologically for the long run. Making sure they're not going to burn out physically or mentally, they're going to enjoy the process, and they're going to be able to prevent injuries. It's a little bit confusing at first. But once you break it down, it's definitely kind of an all inclusive mantra that I started to run with.

When it comes to playing basketball, people think it's the NBA or bust . You’re a believer that the game has much more opportunities than just going pro. How would you say this applies in your life?

I'm a living breathing example of it, in the sense that I was always the big dreamer. Every kid wants to go pro, every kid wants to play at the D1 level, every kid wants to get a scholarship. Ultimately, basketball is that vehicle that can propel you to other things. Even if it's within the basketball industry, or outside of it, the lessons that you learn, the people that you meet, and the connections that you make, are always going to pay off in the long run if you devote your all to it. There’s this Larry Bird quote that is at the center of what I do - "I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end." My view of that was, I'll end up getting a scholarship, I'll end up in the NBA. But what I've started to learn, as I've progressed, throughout the years and started to build out my training business now is that it may not always be the way that you expect it to work out in the end. So just really devoting yourself to your craft. Going as hard as you can every day and giving everything into your craft and immersing yourself into that. If you do that, every day, something will work out. 

Even if it's something that you would never expect it to be. I have buddies now who are in many different fields outside of basketball, but they're still using the network they created, they're still using the skills they built through that daily grind of high school / college basketball. Everyone wants to make the league, everyone wants to play college at a high level. But, really using everything that you are able to gain through the game and leveraging those things can propel you into places that you would never really even expect. I've definitely seen that in the past couple of years.

You've ran clinics in Mexico and Puerto Rico. How would you compare the player development efforts in other countries to the US?

That's something that I love speaking on. Because every time I go I always come back and I have a ton of shit to talk to the athletes that I work with. It's just a different feeling when you're over there and what I mean by that is, every word, they absorb it. Every detail you present them. They try to apply it. They're extremely respectful in the sense of listening, applying and being present as you're coaching them. I get back here, and I'm working with kids who I've worked with for a couple of years, and they get a little bit too comfortable, and they're bullshitting in the gym, and I'm like, You got kids that just don't have the same opportunities as you. But if they get that opportunity, they will come over here and kill you. Because they are so much better. I think it's unbelievable how many talented and dedicated basketball players there are, in places that we wouldn't expect. I think the player development is really growing over there, you're starting to get some really good coaches, some really good trainers. It's still probably 5-10 years behind the US, in some areas of the game. I think that's going to start to accelerate worldwide. The overall growth is something that is impressive and you don't really get to understand it until you go to those places. So I think basketball is going to become an even more worldwide game. I think these two countries are gold mines for athletes to start really making their name for making a name for themselves and in the player development especially.

That's another reason why I love pushing the content is because it gives coaches in those areas the ability to see what I'm posting and what all these other really good coaches are posting and apply that to their players. And that kind of trickles down. So it's growing, it's really exciting. I think that growth is only going to accelerate. And I'm excited to get to even more places and see kind of a similar trend.

I like your approach of wanting to give this content to people. Coaches have the tendency to keep all their information for themselves.How do you feel about the community over competition?

Man, I think there's a piece of the pie for everyone. I think the basketball industry is growing so much that if you are a really good professional, if you're dedicated to your craft, if you know what you're doing, you're gonna find your way into a successful career. Be collaborative and be open to adding people into your network. The more we're able to collaborate, especially as trainers and share information, the more the game is going to grow and the more the game grows, again, that whole pie is going to start to enlarge. Then we all are going to be able to eat more from it so to speak. I see so much competition, whether it's in Miami or whether it's in other cities where coaches and trainers literally hate each other because one of their players went to another coach or whatever it may be. I don't think that is the way that player development was intended to be. I think we should be doing our best to raise each other up and because of that I’m a huge believer in collaboration. I think that's the way that it will start to go once people realize it. But now, since we're a little bit early in the time of development as an industry. I think everyone feels like it's kind of a bunch of big fish in a small pond when I don't think we've realized how big the pond is, and how much we can all succeed together.

When training or hosting clinics, how do you create an experience that is memorable enough that players/coaches trust in you and want to come back for more sessions?

I would say three things. Number one is genuinely connecting with the athletes. Especially in larger clinics, when it's 50-60 kids in there, we can start to see humans as athletes and not the other way around. Think of the human side first and having conversations with every kid in there. Really getting to know them is the number one point of emphasis whenever I step in a gym for a clinic. Ultimately can't really improve someone's game in two hours on such a large scale. So just creating that connection and helping them kind of feel like they've got the most out of their experience. That really helps with the second point. Having the energy and setting the tone. A lot of players come in a little bit nervous and uncomfortable because they're in a gym with 30, 40, 50 other players. I'm from out of town, I've never coached them before, I've never trained them before. So once you start to get that energy going, they start to feel like they're at home and players start competing. That's one thing I'm really big on is if we have 50 players in the gym, there's no reason for me to have them doing drills on cones or against air. Basketball ultimately is a competitive game, everything we do is against other players with other players. Everything we do is competitive and engages the other athletes in the gym. I think those three things create a really cool environment that ultimately comes together to formulate an amazing experience for everyone who steps in the gym.

What is the most important value you instill into your clients? How do you work on that?

The one that I've really been emphasizing the most, is creativity and freedom in a way. I feel like athletes don't get it enough. So many young athletes are boxed in, told to only shoot these shots, you can't do these moves, because you'll never do them in a game. You can't work on this stuff, you can't have fun with the game. I think that missing link is not allowing players to express themselves from almost in an artistic sense on the court. The more that they're able to get that into that freestyle, have fun with it, trying new things. That's where I truly believe the best athletes are bred from and not from a limiting convergent training style. Ultimately, if you're in the gym, doing the same stuff every day your creativity is stifled. You're going to burn out, you're not going to have fun with it, it's going to become a job. You automatically lose engagement from athletes when they feel like they're coming into the gym, just to workout. Not to have fun, not to enjoy being creative and letting themselves kind of flow and express themselves. I'd say creativity, freedom, getting outside of the box. That's kind of the main thing that I've been emphasizing most.

You’re in the business of refining players skills,  but how do you refine your own skills as a trainer?

A big thing that I have beef with in the training industry is that we're always pushing our players to refine their skills. Us on the trainer side of it, we're not known for refining our skills. One thing that I've really read unbelievably deep into in the last couple of years is skill acquisition science. When you look at a lot of what we do, from a standard perspective, and then you look at it through a lens of how people actually learn skills. A lot of what we're doing is almost backwards. I think as a skills trainer it's only right to look into the science of skills. So just reading up on that, you know, talking to people who are really smart in that field, has been huge for me. Understanding how athletes, really just humans in general, learn skills best. Number two is kind of understanding the communication side of things. How we can best use our words, or not use our words. How can we balance, what we say, what keywords we can use with athletes and what type of feedback we give them. All these kinds of things that go under that umbrella of communicating with athletes is huge. Because really what we say or what we don't say, can make or break how an athlete learns.That's huge for me. Looking for things that haven't been said yet haven't been done, haven't been identified yet. That's where the attention to detail idea came from. It's something that I'm obsessed with doing and I think should be done more because there's so much room for innovation in the basketball training realm. We're really only at the tip of the iceberg when we consider how much information and research there is out there that is applicable to our industry.

You’ve come this far. You opened a new gym, you've done clinics overseas, you’ve train a bunch of players, and you've gotten this far within your basketball career. Where do you see it going next? What does the pinnacle look like for you? 

I think the pinnacle for me is somewhere that I don't know yet. I want to be so innovative, that looking back to this conversation, I couldn't have even guessed where I'm going to be. Now, that being said, I will give you an actual concrete answer in a way. I do think it's going to be cool to be able to spread everything that I'm learning and promoting from a training side. The sense of opening up gyms in different cities and running clinics everywhere, and just continuously exposing my views of basketball to people who can hopefully learn from it. So really growing the online or the global online brand, to the point where every athlete, every coach in the basketball community can learn from it and be inspired from it. Then I would say also just kind of transitioning more into the business side. I've always been equally as interested in the business side. Learning from people who are fantastic businessmen, and businesswomen and being able to take all these principles I learned and get into something that's deeper than just training. Basketball is an insanely fast growing industry. And I think there's a lot of opportunity for us as trainers to hop into a better business position. Ultimately, man, I just want to come up with new ideas that will push not only my own career, but the entire industry forward.




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