In his 10-year career on the court, Dwyane Wade has slam dunked his way to pro-league fame as a nine-time NBA All-Star and the Miami Heat’s all-time leader in points—and he’s done it in style. The NBA superstar recently extended his ambassadorship with Hublot, the exclusive watch partner and timekeeper of the Miami Heat, and to celebrate, the Swiss haute horologists decided to give a group of international journalists and local watch insiders a chance to participate in a private basketball clinic with NBA legends Alonzo Mourning, Juwan Howard, Shane Battier and Ray Allen as well as assistant coaches David Fizdale and Dan Craig.
We took to the hardwood of the American Airlines Arena and asked these all-stars for advice on how weekend warriors can instantly improve their game. Below are their top nine tips.
1. Warm up
Ten-time NBA all-star Ray Allen says that it doesn’t matter how good your skills are “if you pull something running out on the floor.” Allen stretches and works out in the weight room for about an hour before practice “to activate my body.”
2. Run drills
The Heat’s assistant coach Dan Craig specializes in player development. His favorite pre-game trick is to run drills. Not only do they help you refocus on the basics, at the American Airlines center, running floor obstacles, for example, boosts you pre-game agility.
3. Keep your eyes up
This is the Heat’s assistant coach David Fizdale’s mantra. It’s like walking and texting—if you’re dribbling and you keep looking down, eventually you are going to get tripped up.
4. Stay low
You can easily increase your ability to stop, start and pivot by keeping your center of gravity low, says Heat legend (and current Vice President of Player Programs) Alonzo Mourning. “Keep your legs bent and your weight on the balls of your feet. Then you’re ready to move.”
5. Share the ball
If your goal is to win games, don’t be a ball hog. How did Miami win back-to-back championships? According to Dwyane Wade, it’s because The Heat is family. “We’re a team,” says D-Wade. “We pass. We ain’t selfish around here.”
6. Keep your elbows in
Speaking of passing, former Heat power forward and current assistant coach Juwan Howard’s best piece of advice is to “Keep your elbows in.” It makes your passing more precise because you’re less likely to get jostled.
7. Lift with your legs
When you enter the square for a layup, “picture a string connecting your wrist to you knee,” says Heat forward Shane Battier. “When you go to put that ball in the net, your knee has to come up at the same time. Right wrist, right knee. Left wrist left knee.” We don’t know how this works, but it does. And who are we to question a man the Sporting News called the smartest player in the NBA?
8. Don’t get distracted
One of the best defensive players of all time, Mourning’s number one tip is to “focus on your opponent’s torso.” If you are directing all your attention to the ball, your opponent can dazzle you with all kinds of gestures. If you focus on their torso or make eye contact, you can get a better idea of where they are going and you will still have the ball in your periphery.
9. Be distracting
Don’t be afraid to fake out your opponents. One advantage amateur athletes have over pro ballers is that you aren’t obligated to follow on court dress codes. So be as stylish as you want. We asked Battier if he would wear his Hublot White Hot Big Bang on the court if regulations would allow it. “Yes!” he quickly replied.