This week we caught up with one our All Star Coaches – Coach James Jordan – who joined CoachUp last summer as one of our basketball coaches. Originally a soccer player and a native of Liberia, Jordan found basketball when he came to the United States. His hard work and perseverance have led him down a successful career path in the sport and basketball continues to play a major part in his life now. Check out his interview below.
Tell us about you background, how did you find basketball and when did you start playing?
I started playing basketball at the age of 16 when I came to he United States from Liberia. I grew up my entire life playing soccer (football), so this was a new and challenging experience. I attended a prep school in upstate NY with tough NY city ball players. It was not easy. I stuck with it and kept working hard on the court and in the weight room. Eventually, I started learning the fundamentals by watching the good kids. I literally became a gym rat. My hard work and persistence paid off when I received scholarship offers from various universities. I was not as talented as most of my teammates, but I was very hardworking. Faith along with hard work can lead to success!
Why did you decide to become a private coach?
I decided to become a private coach because I believe that most kids are not getting taught the fundamentals of the game anymore. Every parent wants their kid to become the NEXT BIG STAR. However, without faith, hard work and dedication, that STAR fades very fast. These days it’s all about dunking and long range threes. Even on the college level, the skill level is deteriorating. This is due to money making AAU teams and coaches who do not take the time to teach the fundamentals. It’s all about tournaments, and not practice. This gives me the determination to push my students and get the best out of them. I do not accept “I CAN’T.” It’s all about “YES, I CAN!
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
I enjoy everything about coaching. However, since you are making me choose one, I enjoy hearing a parent say “I definitely see a lot of improvement in his/her game as well as attitude.” I enjoy seeing a kid open up, and take chances on the court. It is all about stepping out in faith and taking a chance.
What can a client expect from private lessons with you?
A client can expect me to go beyond the few dollars that they are paying. With me, it is not about the money. It’s about getting the best out of my clients. A client will be taught everything about the game. I challenge my clients to think about the “POSITIVE WHAT IF” and not the negative “what if…” What if I make the shot or dunk the ball? If you do not work on it, your “what if” will always have a negative out come. If you want to workout with me, you have to be positive. Believe that you can do it. Believe that you can dribble, make any shot, grab rebounds, make any pass, and make any play. Mental preparation is just as important as skills preparation.
What is your coaching style or philosophy?
My basketball coaching philosophy involves toughness on both ends of the floor. I want my players to be basketball players, not robots. I do not coach “ROLE PLAYERS.” I coach basketball players. You have to be a risk taker on my team. All five players on the floor have to be aggressive on both ends on the floor. It is very difficult to stop a team that attacks with all five players. This is why I teach my clients/players every basketball fundamental. If you are left open, shoot the ball. If they fly out at you, go to the basket. If you are double teamed, pass it. These philosophies are all part of my training sessions.
Who is your favorite coach and why?
My favorite coach is Rick Pitino. He takes average skilled players and turns them into aggressive machines. They are relentless. I also like Bill Self of Kansas. Both coaches teach the fundamentals of the game. Other coaches recruit “ALL AMERICANS.”
What is your favorite moment in your athletic career?
My favorite moment was when my teammates voted me as Co-Captain of the team during my Junior Season at La Salle University. I was not the most talented player on the team, but I was hardworking, respectful, dedicated, friendly, and I treated everybody the same way that I wanted to be treated.
What is your favorite sports related movie?
My favorite basketball movie is “Air Up There.” It gave me hope back then.
What’s your mantra or favorite saying?
It’s very simple. Life is like a piggy bank. You get out of it what you put into it.
Do you have any special talents or a surprising thing someone might not know about you?
I have been told that I am a very talented artist (fine art, painting). I also do graphic design, t-shirt printing, construction, hardwood floor installation, substitute teaching, soccer coaching, and the list goes on. I am the jack of all trades and the master of none!