NBA Skills Trainer Jordan Lawley Joins the HustleWithUs Podcast to Explain How to Build Confidence as a Basketball Player

Tristan: All right, welcome in everyone. We have with us on the line a very special guest coming to us from the West Coast. His name is Jordan Lawley. You can find him at JordanLawley.com. That's L-A-W-L-E-Y on the last name there. You'll also find him @JLawBBall on all social handles, Instagram, Twitter, the entire spectrum. Coach, how are we doing today?

Jordan: Doing great, man. Thank you guys so much for having me.

Tristan: Thank you for joining us. I know you're a busy guy, got a lot on your plate right now, which we will touch on in a little bit here. But we always appreciate our guys taking the time here just to speak with us, speak to our young athletes, and our coaches as well. We know we have a lot of coaches listening out there trying to get their youth athletes on the board, but let's start with you here, Coach. We want to know a little bit about your background. Now, for the folks out there listening, you did play college ball at UC-San Diego. You broke a couple of records there. Now did you walk into UC-San Diego anticipating to walk out with, what is it? All-time scoring leader, most field goals, most free throws, highest field goal percentage in school history. Did you anticipate breaking all those records walking in?

Jordan: No, absolutely not. I actually saw basketball as a means to an end. I wanted to be in... It sounds so wild, in retrospect, but I wanted to be an orthodontist. Like literally from middle school as early as I can remember to me going through my freshman year of college, I wanted to be an orthodontist. So much so that I was even going to the OP School of Dentistry to meet with the Dean of Admissions when I was in I think it was 10th grade or 11th grade. And that was just like my goal. And UCSD had a beautiful biology program. They were pretty amazing. And I went there saying, "Hey, look, I'm going to use basketball as a means of getting my education and furthering my life." You know, back in 2006 when I graduated high school, playing professional basketball was like... I came from a small town, so I thought it was only NBA. There was nothing else out there. And, lo and behold, like the whole landscape of professional sports kind of shifted with FIBA kind of emerging in different countries and their sports emerging as being like real, real strong powerhouses. So, basketball was literally looked at by me as a means to an end to get an education and walked away with a couple of records in a professional career.

Tristan: I'll bet it puts your clients in a little bit more at peace knowing that they do get hit in the face with a ball or anything like that, you're right there on the scene.

Jordan: Right.

Tristan: I mean, that's, that's awesome. At one point in your college career though, did you realize or were you kind of counting the ticker down of, "Hey, I only have this many more field goals in front of me before I'm all-time leader." Did you keep that in mind at all?

Jordan: No. Believe it or not. Like, and I'm usually like very anal when it comes to each game. I know exactly how many points I have. I'm very perceptual when it comes to that. I literally wasn't told that I broke the record until after the game. I had zero idea that I was even on the radar for getting to that milestone. And it just so happened that this happened.

But it goes, and it speaks to how I kind of teach and train my players, which is to compartmentalize. We tell all our young athletes, even our NBA athletes, if you want to be able to produce 20 points a game, think of it [as] per quarter or per half, like I've got to score five points a quarter. And when you break it down like that and you just try to think about the short term goal versus this longterm exasperated goal, it makes it a lot easier to attain. I take a couple of three point shots. I know I'm bound to hit one and I'll get to the line. I know I'm going to knock down both free throws. I'm going to hit a 20 point game without even hardly trying as long as I focus my attention and energy to the short term numbers, short term goals. So, for me playing in college, that's pretty much what it was. I knew what I could do per half, and I knew that I was gonna reach my 21, 20 points a game. And just so happened that I was able to break that record.

Tristan: Interesting. So that's what you're doing on the court. You're compartmentalizing, like you said, quarter by quarter. Now you make this big life decision after college and decide to go play pros down in Mexico and then overseas in New Zealand. What went into that decision making and at what point do we say, "Hey, I'm pretty, pretty darn good of this sport. I think I'm gonna pass in the orthodontics for now and go ahead and take this pro."?

Jordan: Yeah. Well, I'm going to just go back a second and say, after my first class of chemistry, I peaced out of orthodontist so fast. So, by the time I got to my senior year in college, it wasn't really a thought process. Like, I was going to get into business whenever. So it got to... It was the second half of the season my senior year, and all of a sudden agents had started to reach out to me and my family. So before it was like never even an occurrence. Like, "Hey, I have an opportunity to play professional basketball after college." It just so happened that I was receiving interest. And because of that interest, it sparked this idea of "Oh my gosh, I think I have a shot." So, honest to God, it was second half of my senior year when agents started to reach out to me. That really shaped my path.

Tristan: That's awesome. So you make this big life decision. Obviously these guys are reaching out to you and it just seemed like the right thing to do in that moment. What was that feeling going to play overseas for the first time? Obviously it's a different caliber of competition. Did you feel that you were truly challenged in that first season or did you take it all in stride?

Jordan: No, I do feel like I was challenged. I was challenged moreso on an emotional level than a physical one. You know, like you're on the other side of the country. My first contract was in New Zealand. And you're no longer playing with your family or loved ones there. It's just a bunch of random groupies or fans who literally have stake in it and you're now playing for a business. It's a job. And, that one hit me kinda hard and hit me real quick when I realized you're going to work for six hours on the court. Like before, [with] basketball, I could at least have my escape in the classroom, or with my girlfriend, or have those little moments of escape.

This was basketball, basketball, some more basketball, sleep. So it definitely tried me on an emotional level, because I wasn't used to it being at the forefront of my life. So it was difficult to get used to that. Once I got used to that, the game started slowing down. It started becoming a lot more easier to operate, and I really started appreciating the offseasons that I had.

jordan lawley

Tristan: Interesting. So you played for how many years over there ?

Jordan: So I played in New Zealand for a season and then played in Mexico for a portion of a season. After my Mexico stint, I realized that playing professional basketball, it wasn't where my heart was. So it wasn't where my attention needed to be. And my wife, who was then my girlfriend, I was very infatuated with her and I knew we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. So, I wanted to make sure I spent a lot of time on the things that mattered most to me. So, I made a decision to stop playing after my sophomore season overseas and the rest is kind of history.

Tristan: And so I was just gonna say before, going back to your transition from New Zealand to Mexico, did you find any differences in the two types of play in those two leagues that you were playing in there?

Jordan: Honestly, they're very, very similar with the physicality. When I was playing Steve Adams, whose real name is Steve Funaki, he's, he was playing, as a 16 year old, against us. You want to talk about a brute? Like he literally was the same stature, just a little bit more like a baby giraffe. But he was so physical. He was a bruiser and like New Zealanders, the Kiwis and Australians, they're known as being a very physical group of players. With, the implementation of AFL and rugby kind of being at the helm of their sport, they have a very physical, physical game. Now when you get to Mexico, it's the same kind of physicality. Sometimes a little dirtier, but it's the same physicality on the basketball court. So it was an easy transition, and the Americans in both spots, like keep the balance and they keep that athleticism and definitely competition at a very high level.

Tristan: We always hear that there is some sort of differences, whether it's a language barrier, whether it's a playing style, whether it's the rules in general that you've got to pick up on. So I know that's definitely good fodder for them out there.

Jordan: If I could speak to the younger audience on that, it is understand the culture and try to be as respectful as possible because there's a lot of knuckleheads who think that, "Oh, I'm going to go play professional basketball in Italy or in Turkey and I don't care. They should be worshipping me." They get a very rude awakening and it's really important. If you give a little, people will be receptive. And especially when you're on other people's turf or soil, it's so imperative to show a little bit of respect by trying to learn what it is that makes that culture tick and how you can best fit within that cog.

Because you know, a lot of times certain things don't translate over, or the way you conduct yourself or handle yourself in a meeting or on a phone call with a GM or management can get you fired. So, there's a very, very, very, very thin line. It's a thin line to walk when you go overseas. So get incorporated with the culture wherever that may be.

Craig: So I've got a question about your playing days overseas and how it informs your training and coaching techniques. Would you say that you kind of pull best practices from all different regions?

Jordan: Yeah I would say so. A lot of my style of play is based off of FIBA. So like very efficient, very few dribble combos or very few dribbles. Get to your spots, run a proper offense, know how to set up your man off-ball. Do the intangibles, play basketball in its finest form. So I take a lot of what I experienced overseas and also what my players continue to experience. That has a constant effect on how I shape my training.

Craig: And so, when it comes to your training, would you say you've got a specialty that makes you a little bit different from other trainers?

Jordan: Yeah. We all have our little spin on what we do to help implement the game and teach the game in the right way. I feel for me, it's taking the game of basketball and knowing how to teach the skill enhancement side of it within the game enhancement side of it. So, taking a finite detail, it happens within the singular person, and how can we best replicate it to where it becomes most efficient and productive on the court. And then put that one skill mechanic or a couple of skill mechanics into a game situation.

Or we can teach them then how to be become more effective within that game situation utilizing certain skill mechanics that we're working on. So, us having a strong balance between the two separates what we do versus a lot of other trainers who might be just rep guys, getting shots up, getting to their spots. Or skill enhancement guys who are just working on the singular, working on what the individual needs to get done from a skillset basis and being real detail oriented in that matter.

Craig: Yeah. It sounds like that does separate you, makes you a little bit different from other trainers. Here at Hustle and the podcast, we always hear from our listeners, they like hearing new drills or new ideas, things that they haven't done before. And I know sometimes trainers, we don't want to share all of our tricks, but I was wondering if there's something that you could share with us, kind of walk us through, a particular drill that, you find to be really beneficial for your players.

Jordan: Yeah. Well, I think, if we're speaking to a younger demo, one of the main, benefactors or one of the main things that helps with growth and development is understanding tangible metrics. So like, we have a few tangible metric drills that focus on what kind of score a player can get within a certain allotted timeframe.

So we'll have a ball handling series for 90 seconds. You do one cross, one between, one behind, and you do it consecutively. So cross, between, behind. That's one. Cross, between, behind. Two. And for 90 seconds they're doing this constant. And the record that one of our players has, Chase Adams who's now in college, is 108.

So that gives him, like when Chase and I started working, he got like an 80 or like 82. And then every time I would see him, when he'd come over to Irvine from Chicago, we'd constantly do it so we can track his progress. For a lot of players, they just say, "Oh, you know, the output that I give in the game is going to indicate how much growth or development I've been experiencing." And that's not always the case. There's so many different variables that are involved with a team. As far as coaching styles are concerned, the offense you run, the personnel that's on the team. So what our job is to make that individual understand where they are and how they're getting better.

So we do a finishing series that's a tangible metric thrill. And it's 140 makes and in every possible way. Not every possible way, but a majority of the high probability finishes. We have a mid range. We have a stop separation tangible metric. We have a three point tangible metric. We have cardio conditioning, a shooting tangible metric, and we have a sprint tangible metric.

And each one that we do with like transformation clients or any of our NBA guys, we constantly log so that way each month, each week, whatever it may be, each offseason. We can see where they were when we last left off and also the goal we can strive to hit. So once again, for the younger demo, understanding where you're at and that way you can get to a baseline, kind of like an asset liability line. So if you're finishing is suspect you can't complete this drill or you've got a bad score, then you need to focus a lot on that. Like if your ball handling is suspect then pick that baseline up to where you can get to this asset line where you're no longer a liability in any one skilled mechanic.

Tristan: Got it. I love that. So we asked a little bit about what your specialty is earlier, but it's truly a comprehensive approach and it sounds like you're attacking it from an analytical side and, like you said, a game enhancing side as well. We love to hear that here. One thing you mentioned earlier as well, speaking to that younger demo, was talking about going to play overseas and really ingratiating yourself in the culture. Now let's go to an even younger demo, the middle school range, age 12 to 14, somewhere around there. Maybe they're starting to really get serious about training. They want to come sign up for one of your sessions and come see you. Is there something in common that you see with those younger athletes that they always need to work on or usually need to work on? Maybe something that they can work on in their own before coming to see somebody like you?

Jordan: Confidence. And embracing the struggle. One of the key statements that we make literally every single day, and I'm going into a session here in a few minutes, is embrace the suck, embrace the ugly.

Like if you're in middle school, for a player to understand that that is not where you're going to end up being. That's not the same player that you will become. You're going to develop and get better. But. These little failures that you have, those early stages of your career are necessary in order to develop. A lot of times you get kids who are so conscientious of what they might look like on Instagram, or what their friends might say if they air-balled a shot, or missed a shot, that they lose the site or focus that that one rep can be used as a stepping stone for them actually understanding the skill concept that we're trying to teach. So that's something that is so important for middle schoolers to try to grasp and try to remember is embrace the suck. Understand that it's okay. You're going to be better than what you are right now, it's just going to take some opportunity for you to realize that it's not just failures, but we need to fail forward.

Tristan: I love that. Embrace the suck. So Jordan...

Craig: My like everyday motto. [laughter]

Tristan: I want to ask you a little bit here about your Instagram following. That's obviously how we came in contact with you. You got a ton of followers on there. Posts on all sorts of great training videos, great content that our listeners can go check it out @JLawBBall on Instagram as well as on Twitter. When did that really start to kick off for you and when did you really start focusing in that area?

Jordan: 2014. I was asked to be in the Nike Summer Is Serious game. And they were doing this big activation across Instagram saying submit these videos, #SummerIsSerious. And for the top players in the country, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis will do a draft to pick their team. And I was selected as the second pick by Kyrie to do this game, this pickup game in Barcelona, Spain. So did this event, Nike's blasting it, blasting my social media page and the game occurs and I get MVP, I hit the game winning shot.

And it kind of just, after that kind of picked up. So, I kept on producing content because I was getting good traction and Nike was doing their part and it was just one of those things I realized, before Instagram was really even a major platform or major stage, that there was some trajectory or some momentum that I was gaining.

Craig: Does it also play a role in finding new clients? Having people reach out to you?

Jordan: Yes. The craziest thing is I would say I get more NBA and professional clients than I do amateur clients, which is insane to me at this stage. Before it was a reciprocal. It was I'd get a bunch of the remedial players and the introductory players and basic, or the amateur players from Instagram when I had sub-50,000 followers. And then way less NBA guys. And then once you get to a certain point, it's like the amateurs feel like you're not as approachable because you have this exasperated number of followers and you're supposedly some guru, which is the furthest thing from the truth. And then the NBA guys just start flooding in. So you get a bunch of guys that now follow and reach out and correspond to interact. Like we started working out with CJ McCollum this summer because he followed me on Instagram and we were always engaging. And so it's wild how the paradigm kind of shifts when you get to a certain number where now these amateurs think like, "Oh, it's not attainable." And my facility is as open as it gets for $250 a month. You can get unlimited group training sessions by me. So it's like the furthest thing from the truth that I'm restricted and reserved and kind of standoffish or try to separate myself from that group. That's one of our biggest markets and that's something that it's so important to understand is everything through social is so easy to obtain. You're so easy to communicate with someone.

Craig: No, that's really cool. And we hear that a lot of times from the people that we talked on the podcast. And so, speaking of your clients, before we started recording, you were telling us, that you have celebrity clients too, that aren't necessarily basketball players. Tell us a little bit about that.

Jordan: Yeah, so I started training the celebrities for the NBA All Star Game three years ago. And so far every year, not to toot my own horn, I don't really like going off on my accomplishments, but this one I will take. So every year I get an MVP out of the group of people that work with me. So we had Brandon Armstrong...

Craig: Yeah, this is the celebrity pickup game or the celebrity...

Jordan: Yeah, the NBA All Star Celebrity Game. So every year, we've gotten an all star or so we've gotten an MVP. So this year I've never worked with somebody for this long. So I'm really excited. However, my guy, Hannibal Burress, actor, comedian, one of the funniest dudes I've ever met in my life. He's got a bunch of stuff going on right now, tours and stuff. Super funny. But we have so much work to do. And we started working before the new year, and [had] one of the funniest, but probably was the least productive session I've ever done in my life. But part of what we do within my company, or amongst myself and my trainers is we make sure that each client that gets in front of us understands that we're about the transformation, not about the transaction.

And every single person that gets in the gym with us is going to have to learn different. They're going to have different goals and whatnot. So, it's given me a lot of appreciation for what he does and how he is such an amazing comedian, how he's ultra funny and how we have a commonality in the fact that we both love the game of basketball and the development side of it. So, Hannibal Burress has been nothing but amazing as far as being a friend and a hooper. We've got some work to do still for that mid-February game, but we're going to try to get to that MVP spot.


Craig: I'm calling it, Hannibal for MVP this year.

Jordan: No, no, no. Don't, don't call it, don't call it. [laughter]

Tristan: Alright, delete the hashtag.

Jordan: How about this? Hannibal Burress. They don't have an MIP or a Hustle Award, but if they did, he would definitely get that one.

Tristan: There we go. We'll give that to him. He's a very vocal comedian when he's up there on stage so I can only imagine the sounds as you're transforming him out there on the court. Circling back to the training side a little bit, like I said we don't want to keep you too long here. Definitely appreciate the time. We see on your Instagram videos there using a lot of different tools, a lot of cone drills. You have the fake defender up there that you're usually working around. Is there any tools that you prefer in particular when you're training with clients themselves and some that you give us a little insight to there?

Jordan: Yeah. One of my training buddies, Micah Lancaster, developed a rip cone. Just a standard cone, but it's very resourceful. It's got great grip on it, and that's something that's literally a staple for my sessions. And I know in a lot of different circles, that using cones can be considered the biggest no-no of the century, which I think is the furthest thing from it. And I'm a huge advocate for training products and training tools, and understanding the difference between a training product and a training tool, but understanding how to properly use a training tool to convey a personal accountability versus a forced accountability mindset, within and amongst the player. Obviously not every trainer has the opportunity to have rebounders and whatnot that are involved with the sessions. So you gotta become a little bit more creative and resourceful with the training tools that are out there. So, I use Micah's rip cones heavily, and that's the best cone that's out there on the market, and there's a lot of different functionality.

Tristan: That truly goes back to fundamentals even. They were working with cones going back decades so why not keep using them? Well along that same line here, obviously at Hustle, we are all about utilizing technology in training. Is there any technological tools that you use today? And where do you see the future of training and tech going?

Jordan: Yeah, so tech has such a profound impact in the game, especially being a statistical, analytical sport that it is, that basketball is now. The Home Court app, that AI is probably one of the most amazing apps or amazing pieces of tech that's within the basketball sphere. From a teaching perspective, it gives us the ability to, not just tell our clients, but show our clients, what it is that they're doing incorrectly or the arc that's a good trajectory or what their shot looked like months prior versus where they're at now. But like we talked about with the tangible metric type solid training. It gives the client the ability to see it. And really understand that,"Hey, look, you know, even if you have a coach that might forget a number or something, like this visual perspective does not lie." Like you seeing your flight of the ball, like seeing how many shots you may have made or missed, seeing your streaks, like this is hard evidence that you either struggle or succeed in these certain areas. So, that would probably be the top tech sphere in my eyes. And, excited and curious for what the future holds with tech. I don't even like thinking about the different directions that they could go because I feel like they're always just one-up of my expectations.

Tristan: Exactly. Well, I'm sure there's folks out there, us included, that are working hard on it to advance it a little bit, but only going to be able to help you as well in the long run. Coach, appreciate your time here today. Before we let you go, want to get into something we do with all of our guests here. It's a little rapid fire round. We'll fire a quick question at you. We'll make them easy. You just fire back with the first thing that come to mind. Sound good?

Jordan: Let's do it.

Tristan: All right. Here we go. I always start here with this one...Favorite sports movie of all time?

Jordan: Oh, favorite sports movie? Space Jam.

Craig: Oh, good one. My favorite question here is what's your favorite basketball shoe of all time?

Jordan: Harden, the Harden 4s.

Tristan: Interesting. Haven't heard that one yet. I do like it though. I like it. Alright. Best music to warm up to before a big game?

Jordan: Oh, some Frank Sinatra baby. C'mon now. Talk to 'em, Frankie!

Craig: You do it your way, he does it his way, I like it. A question I've got, who's another trainer that you look up to?

Jordan: Oh, man. Can I say a few of them?

Craig: Yeah, sure.

Jordan: Okay. Tyler Relph, DJ Sackmann, Micah Lancaster. Great group of minds. They're unbelievably talented in their own individual ways, and I just have pulled those four as kind of being people that I want to take as much from as possible.

Tristan: Love that, and obviously big names in the industry, and like you already mentioned Micah earlier, great guys that you can learn from in this space as well.

Jordan: Can I add another one? My bad.

Tristan: Go for it.

Jordan: Another one I got is Phil Handy. Phil Handy was a mentor for me growing up and he actually trained me when I was in high school. I feel awful for kind of leaving him out of that group.

Tristan: But you didn't

Jordan: Phil is definitely up there. But I did for a second. So I appreciate it. I appreciate you fighting for me.

Tristan: No problem. No problem. All right, coach, last one here. Best pregame meal?

Jordan: Oh my gosh. Oh, my pregame? Or like what you should be eating?

Tristan: Let's go with both.

Jordan: Okay. So I had, in college I had, it was a just basic salad with these fire croutons, literally like bagel size croutons from this Elijah's bakery. And then I had a chicken breasts with balsamic vinegar all over it, and I polish that down with a soda. I do not condone drinking soda. I don't drink it at all now. But I would drink Coke, literally breakfast, night, and dinner pregame, post-game, and was sick to my stomach. Now I'm going carbo load the night before and I'm just eating a clean meal to make sure that I have enough energy, but full-on, like literally focusing on macros and really the nutrition that's coming out of that meal.

Tristan: Love it. Yeah. Focus on the pasta, the bread, all that out there the night before. I'd love to hear that. But hey, nothing wrong with a nice little salad as well. The soda? Maybe we'll do without. Coach, appreciate your time one more time here. Again, it's Jordan Lawley, JordanLawley.com is where you can find him as well as information on his training plan. His 30 day transformation plan out there. Find out a little more about his staff as well. And of course you can find them on all the social channels @JLawBBall on Instagram, Twitter, you name it. Coach, thank you for your time again, and hopefully we can check in with you down the line, maybe after this NBA celebrity pickup game coming up here.

Jordan: Yeah, I definitely would love to. Thank you so much for having me.

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