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Hoop Story #035: Drew Hanlen, NBA Trainer

Hoop Story #035: Drew Hanlen, NBA Trainer

How did you get started as a trainer? Is it true a parent once offered you $20 to train his son?

I was working out at a three-court facility in St. Louis while two games were going on and a parent from one of the games (George Baker) came over and said, “I’ve never seen someone work as hard as I just watched you workout. I would love for you to put my son, Matt Baker, through that exact same workout so he knows what real hard work is…” and then offered me $20 to do it. 

I love helping people and love basketball, so I fell in love with basketball training which allowed me to combine those two loves.

While in high school you trained Bradley Beal. What was that experience like? How have you seen his game develop over time?

I started working out Brad after his freshman year. Believe it or not, when we first started working together, we’d often work out together, because I was still playing high school and college ball at the time.

He averaged eight points per game as a freshman and then after our first summer together jumped to 24. We’ve continued to work together ever since. He’s special. He’s added something new to his game every year, which is a big reason why he is the leading scorer in the NBA today.

You attended and played basketball at Belmont University. What was that experience like?

I loved my time at Belmont. I always dreamed of playing college basketball and playing in the NCAA tournament and got to check off both boxes at Belmont.

We made the NCAA tournament both my junior and senior years and won a combined 57 games during those two seasons. Highlight was probably playing at Duke to open my senior year. We lost by 1 but I hit 4 threes in the second half.

That same year, I was selected to first team all-conference and led the country in three point percentage at 48.2%.

What differentiates you from other trainers? Talk about your approach.

Results are the only thing that matters in the basketball training industry and I do anything and everything I can to help my clients get results.

My philosophy is all about mastering game skills so players get game results.

We do a ton of film work and decision making drills to ensure that the skills they are working on translates to the game.

You have been working with Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid for quite some time now. What’s their journey been like? How have they improved on the offensive end?

I started working with Jayson when he was 13. He and I had been preparing for the NBA from day one. Our long term plan was to start with fundamentals then add a bag of tricks as we went. The final step was changing his shot mechanics so he could extend his range and become a knockdown three point shooter.

With Joel, he and I started working together before his NBA career, too. Joel is one of the most naturally talented players I have ever worked with. We started with post moves, then moved to the mid-post and now have worked on his face-up and perimeter game to expand his versatility.

The other star player that we haven’t mentioned is Zach LaVine. I’ve been working with Zach since his UCLA days. Zach’s first big change was lowering his shot pocket to improve his shooting, then we worked on improving his pace and finishing.

Tell us about Pure Sweat. How did it come to be? What is your long term vision for the brand?

I started Pure Sweat in high school. The first thing I did was write a drill book my junior year called Drew Hanlen’s Driveway Dedication. It was a collection of drills and skills that helped me improve as a player.

The second thing I did was start academies, where I personally worked with 96 sixth-12th graders in the St. Louis area. After that, I started running clinics all over the world and launched a training app to help players improve their game on their own.

Now, my primary responsibility are to train my NBA clients, to mentor other trainers and to create courses for my Virtual Basketball School.

My long term vision for Pure Sweat is to help as many players, coaches and trainers learn the game of basketball through my Virtual Basketball School. I want people to be able to learn about shooting, finishing and play making the way we learn about math, science and social studies in school.

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