Focus on Youth
Olin Simplis‘ basketball journey started as a young guard growing up in Los Angeles. While his playing career didn’t materialize, he found a niche with training.
He began developing players from an early age. His goal was never to train National Basketball Association players, but rather to stick with youth levels and work with both girls and boys basketball.
Of course, when you develop young players, some of them may eventually become NBA players. Simplis saw some of his trainees earn scholarships into university and ultimately turn pro.
All In the Family
When his son became of basketball-playing age (four or five), rather than have him just follow dad around gyms while Simplis was still playing, he was placed in leagues where he could play up.
“I wouldn’t have him play his age bracket and in any particular league.”
As a result, his son won the MVP trophy at age eight. Simplis recounts, “He was playing a 12-year-old division. So the team he played for and the team we just beat in the championship all said, Hey, can I train with you? And that’s how it actually evolved.”
Back in those days, basketball training wasn’t a thing. Rather, it was basketball coaching. Simplis’ career evolved through his son. It also developed a great bond being on the courts together and coaching his little leagues to watch him develop so well at such an early age. It attracted more kids to what Simplis was doing with him.
Since then, he has worked with over 50 NBA players, plus Women’s National Basketball Association players and hundreds of college athletes. However, it’s not just about basketball. Because playing the sport makes them used to hard work, it also provides these players with the grit and perseverance they need to be successful in other areas in life.
Why Do Some Make It And Some Don’t?
There are players who should have at least had a chance to play at a high level, but they might have allowed certain distractions to get in the way. Perhaps they didn’t like school, so they missed out on a scholarship because they didn’t prepare in the classroom.
Other reasons might be that they were not conditioning properly. Their behavior was questionable. Ideally, teams want to draft a quality human being.
“If someone wants to spend millions on you, they also have to see how you are as a person. There are a lot of people walking this earth that should have been, could have been a professional basketball player, but they weren’t serious with their day to day activities.”
While they need to prepare for the court, they have to prepare off the court how they eat, how they sleep, but instead they prefer to party. Players have to make sacrifices. It’s a different lifestyle.
It’s the sacrifice, the time commitment, and the little things. For example, Simplis trained a young woman who was a freshman in high school. He trained her in seven to eighth grade. She drove two hours to work out with him three days a week. That’s a lot of dedication and commitment for that age. As a result, in her freshman year of high school, she committed to the University of Southern California.
There are 24 hours in a day and Simplis tells kids they still have time to do the other things. “Give yourself two to three hours of dedicated work to your craft every day, and more times than not, you’ll make it.”
There Is No Sugar-Coating the Pro Leagues
Once, or if, players are drafted, they report to their teams and then it’s an all day journey. They’re on the court, then watch film sessions, and finish up in the weight room. Then they’re back at the arena in evening for games. It’s their lifestyle. Now, it’s their job.
Before they even play the sport, it’s an eight to 10 hour day of preparation. It’s grueling. Yet, it’s a blessing. They’re in a position to do something they love for a living, but the work that goes into it just to get ready for the draft is not for everyone.
The time they’re not on the court, they need to recover. They could rest at home or at the arena in an ice bath, get massaged, work at their therapy exercises, or all the above. It’s an all day journey.
Connecting With A Coach
The development level is so important, that young players spend more time with their coaches than they do with their parents. The relationship matters.
“I know what buttons to push,” Simplis explains. “I can read if he’s having an off day. He may be tired. We still have to get the work done, but what avenues do I need to navigate to maybe push him to push through that exhaustion or push through that fatigue? Or maybe something happened in his family life.”
In order to keep the training consistent, the player must have that connection with his coach or trainer. If the relationship isn’t there, the communication tends to deteriorate. The player doesn’t open up. He might take a day off that day, which turns into two days. He doesn’t respect the work, so there isn’t a full effort. There has to be respect behind that relationship.
Simplis calls it the stepfather situation. “It’s like a stepfather just can’t come into a kid’s life and start demanding, explaining actions. There’s a level of love and trust that needs to take place before any sort of rules or implementing boundaries can be set.
“I think it’s the same thing with training. If I don’t have that player’s love and that player’s respect, the relationship won’t reach its full potential.”
The Guard Whisperer, Olin Simplis, has trained many a great basketball player from amateur to pro. He has worked with Jalen Duden, Isaiah Mobley, Orlando Robinson, among many others.