Behind every successful athlete, is a trainer whose primary goal is to help their client reach ‘greatness.’
I had the opportunity to interview renowned NBA trainer Idan Ravin. Idan–a former lawyer, who turned his passion for hoops into a fruitful career, is now a master at his craft, developing some of the NBA’s elite talent (Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry,etc.)
Known for his unconventional and innovative workout routines, Idan made his mark on the basketball world, he’s now referred to as a ‘training guru.’ Idan’s been able to diversify his brand as well. Other than being a famous basketball trainer, he’s the author of “The Hoops Whisper” and Dove Men+Care fitness and grooming expert.
During our conversation we covered a series of topics, including his career progression, inspiration behind his book, favorite sneakers, fitness tips and much more.
Read the full interview below.
MTS: How did you get started as a basketball trainer?
IR: “That’s a good question. The quick answer is that I found something I loved to do and I was stubborn enough to believe I could do it. The bit longer answer is that it was just something that I found that I enjoyed, that I never in million universes thought it would lead me where I am today. It was more like I worked with young kids which lead me to taller kids, faster kids, bigger kids, stronger kids, better kids, college kids, professional kids, then eventually NBA players. So it’s very, like, kind of a long journey, but never really intending to be where I am today. Just followed what I enjoyed.”
MTS: When did your passion for training athletes start? Is that something you knew you always wanted to do?
IR: “ I always loved the game. I loved playing, I was a really good player, but I grew up in a very religious family, an immigrant family and so it wasn’t like something that basketball was really encouraged to do. The way I grew up you had to pursue a much more traditional, practical way but I always loved playing the game. So I ended up becoming a lawyer and I was really unhappy. And in order to try to, kind of find something I enjoyed, I just slowly started volunteering. You know at a rec center or a YMCA with kids coaching basketball, and it was then I started slowly realizing that I started to love the game in a different way. And that became, you know, training athletes. So it was something where I knew I loved the game. . .I didn’t ever realize that I would actually love training as well. But it was more kind of a pivot, in terms of, you know the game–. It kind of opened me up to a whole new world.”
MTS: What was the inspiration behind your book, “The Hoops Whisperer?”
IR: “That’s a good question. The book isn’t basketball or training. The book, on a macro level, is about the importance of relying on faith and intuition with trying to find your purpose. On sort of a micro level, it’s a book that demystifies and humanizes many of the NBA players I’ve been fortunate enough to train in the past. So there’s chapters devoted to Stephen Curry, or to Carmelo Anthony, or to Chris Paul, or to Kevin Durant, or Lebron, you know, Dwight Howard so on and so forth. And it’s interesting because when I was approached by Dove Men Care, their message really resonated with me, sort of on that same line. This whole line of products was built with this idea of demystifying this stereotype of what a man is. You know, men don’t care about what they smell like, what they feel like, what they look like, right? But yes they do. And here was all these products and this whole message and I thought this is very much in line with kind of my idea with these professional athletes, they’re human. They cry, they laugh, they struggle, they get frustrated, and just because they might have some superhuman talent, that doesn’t mean they’re not real people like us. That’s why the partnership I have with the Men+Care makes more sense because it was very much in line with what I believe in and I kind of talk about it in that book.”
MTS: Is there any significance behind your book title?
IR: “That’s a good question. Years ago, I don’t remember exactly who came up with it, I think it was someone from the NBA league office, but essentially it was this idea how does Idan-who doesn’t look like these guys, who comes from the same place, who’s not 6 foot 8, with muscles like Hercules- and yet all these guys, will retain to Idan; and have access to every single resource imaginable, but they all turn to Idan for help. And I don’t raise my voice. I don’t yell, I don’t curse, I don’t scream. I’m a very kind of mild mannered person. And the idea was…Hoops Whisperer. Idan has been able to connect with these athletes and get them to engage in a way no one does and that is kind of what the origin of that name was. That moniker sort of stuck.”
MTS: What is the most difficult part of your job?
IR: “Ummm….Always trying to stay ahead of the pack and always finding a way to connect with the athletes. I believe that I am the gold standard in this space. I have a responsibility to always stay ahead of the pack and find ways to get these athletes always engaged, and have them improve the ways that is kind of ahead of what other people are doing. And it’s always just–. You know, let’s say that I was an artist, right? And I release like nine platinum albums. Well, now I’m responsible to at least attempt the 11th and the 10th and that’s the part that’s always tough because you have to be ahead of the curve. Get a way to connect with your audience, or consumer. Like me with the athletes.”
MTS: Give me one word to describe your workouts?
IR: “Hopefully unconventional and hopefully inspiring.”
MTS: What are three workout tips you would like to share with our readers?
IR: “Two that comes to mind, right at the top of my head. I believe consistency and effort is your king and diet is your queen.”
MTS: Give us three of your favorite sneakers right now?
IR: “There’s so many. That’s an awesome question.–. I love the Nike Kyrie 1, the new Kyrie’s. I love the new KDs [Nike Kevin Durant KD 7], the red ones are super nice. You know Lebron’s , my guy, I love his new stuff. What else do I really like? Right now, those are three that come to mind. I’m trying to think of a cool colorway that I saw. I went to Asia recently, you always see a cool colorway that you don’t necessarily recognize in other places. The Nike Hyperdunk 2015. I like those alot too. They feel nice on your feet. And to me obviously, every Jordan released. I’m spoiled that way.”
MTS: Workout gear is also very trendy, what do you usually wear when you’re on the job?
IR: “For me, I would say always Nike and Jordan stuff. I try to usually match my gear. Some cool socks and then it could be some J’s [Jordans], or it could be a pair of Nike Air Max. Depends on the day. But I try to make the shoe pop from the outfit or match. One or the other.”
“I feel really lucky that I’m able to partner up with brands that I’m really proud of and really respect. I actually use their stuff. l like to align myself up with brands that I truly use and truly believe in and agree with them.”
MTS: Do you see yourself coming out with a product or apparel line in the near future?
IR: “Oh my gosh, I would be incredibly flattered if Nike came out with a Hoops Whisperer shoe. And maybe have my own special deodorant, like cool under pressure. Oh man, yo I would be so incredibly flattered.”
MTS: If you could choose one player, from any era to train, who would it be? and why?
IR: “It would probably be Oscar Robinson. I would want to see what his game would translate into today.”