David Stern’s middle name is Joel. I know this bit of information about the NBA commish via an accidentally funny, lighthearted interaction with Dwyane Wade.
While waiting for our cover shoot to start, Dwyane sat casually spinning an official Spalding ball between his hands— until he noticed a “J” between “David” and “Stern” in the ball’s branded, cursive signature. His eyes lit up, he smiled and informed everyone they were about to face an impromptu trivia challenge.
After surveying the room, Dwyane locked his eyes on me. “What do you think David Stern’s middle name is?” he asked. Without hesitation, I confidently blurted out the first name beginning with J that I could think of—“Jimmy!”
Before the second syllable of “Jimmy” left my mouth, I was already regretting my lack of deliberation and silently chastising myself: Seriously? Jimmy? Way to think on your toes. Yep, David Jimmy Stern—NBA commissioner by day, NASCAR points leader by night. Great way to start things off! Dwyane Wade hates you!
Confusion and disappointment showing on his face, Dwyane slowly turned away from me to the next contestant, pausing only to shoot a quick glance back to see if I were offering any indication that my response was a joke. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and I convinced myself that I’d severely damaged our four-minute-old relationship. Fortunately, Dwyane shrugged off my response, probably because all six people in the room guessed incorrectly—although one argued he should win after guessing “Joe,” since it was only one letter off. Dwyane rejected the explanation stating, “Joe is nowhere close to Joel.”
A Google search on a cell phone revealed the correct answer, but Dwyane wasn’t done enjoying himself. He continued to fill the room with fun, inciting laughter throughout the shoot. As the jokes piled up, I wondered how this easygoing funnyman could be the same man who attacked NBA opponents with coldhearted, ruthless aggression—a quality that makes his court performances less contest and more confrontation.
Looking hard for any glimpse of the passion, intensity and wrath that characterize his on-court persona, at first I saw none of it. But I soon learned that Dwyane reserves his killer instinct for specific times and places. “Dwyane came to us for his pre-draft training,” says Tim Grover, legendary strength and conditioning guru and owner of ATTACK Athletics. “When we first got him and were doing the individual workouts, I was like, ‘Man, I just don’t see the same fire in this kid as I saw in the NCAA Tournament.’ But the minute he had to compete against somebody or something— whether it was a time, or whether he had to make x amount of shots in a certain amount of time—he became a different person. It’s like a switch gets turned on, and when we saw that, we were like, ‘OK, this kid is special.’”
Dwyane’s competitive fire is evident every second he spends on an NBA court, clearly revealed in his now-patented aggressive style of play. “I grew up playing on the blacktop and the hardwood, a combination of both,” Dwyane explains. “But you had to be tougher on the blacktop, because there aren’t fouls … For me to get anything, I needed to throw my body in there and hustle. I had to do the little things a lot of people don’t want to do, just to get on the court. Now, it’s just a part of who I am; it’s in me. If I’m telling the young guys to do something, I lead by example. If that’s diving for a loose ball in the first five minutes of the game, then that’s what it is.”
While Dwyane was developing toughness on the Chicago blacktop, he was honing his offensive skills through frequent backyard games of 21 against his father Dwyane Sr. and stepbrother Demetrius. These every-man-forhimself games pitted one offensive player against two defenders, forcing Dwyane to flip his competitive switch and teaching him to drive powerfully through traffic. The payoff was immense success at H.L. Richards High School, where he finished his senior season averaging double-double totals of 27 ppg and 11 rpg.
After considering some Midwestern schools, Dwyane found his collegiate home a few hours north of Chicago, at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Between his freshman and sophomore years there, he got his first taste of off-court training success, adding serious muscle to power his explosive and slashing drives to the hoop. “The benefit I saw when I started training in college was immediate muscle mass,” Dwyane recalls. “I went into college at 175; and by the time I got on the court I was 205. It was all muscle weight. I [got] to see how strong I was against the guards I was playing against, and I started looking better in my shirts [laughs].”
The added mass and resulting strength immediately helped Dwyane power through opposing guards, first in Conference USA, then on the national stage. In his first five games as a sophomore [all wins], he scored 20-plus points and averaged nine rebounds and five assists. Throughout the season, Dwyane helped the Golden Eagles take down several highly ranked teams, finishing as the team leader in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.
Dwyane’s junior season was even more impressive, as he led Marquette to a top-10 national ranking and an eventual Elite Eight blowout of number-one seed Kentucky—a game in which he posted the third triple-double in Tournament history. For the season, he averaged 21.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals, numbers that earned him a consensus First Team All-American selection.
With his toughness, driving ability and newfound strength, Dwyane accepted an invitation to become the face of the Miami Heat franchise following the 2003 NBA Draft. After joining the Heat, he quickly added another element to his game—the ability to finish at the rim. During practices his rookie season, Dwyane repeatedly drove the lane against assistant coaches Bob McAdoo and Keith Askins, who were armed with football blocking dummies. As Dwyane exploded toward the hoop, the coaches blasted him, teaching him to continue his drive and elevation through the contact. It worked.
Dwyane immediately made his mark as a premier guard in the league. In 2006, he added an exclamation point by leading the Heat to the NBA Championship and being named MVP of the NBA Finals. Most recently, Dwyane proved his mettle during the ’08-’09 season, winning the league scoring title with 30.2 ppg and carrying his team to the playoffs following months of rehabilitation from simultaneous knee and shoulder surgeries the year before, a process Dwyane says was the biggest adversity he’s ever faced.
So that he can continue adding to his game, Dwyane hits up sessions with Grover at ATTACK every year. “His game has developed so much,” Grover says. “He’s really dedicated himself to [taking] care of his body, knowing how important it is with the injuries he’s had and returning to play at such a high level. As skilled as he is, he’s willing to try new stuff out on the basketball court. No matter how awkward or unprepared he is with it, he’s going to give it a try until he’s comfortable with it.”
Asked about his ever-intensifying dedication, at a time in his career when most NBA stars enter maintenance mode, the five-time All Star responds with factors beyond personal success. “I want to show my sons my work ethic and hopefully it takes over for them,” Dwyane says. “There are also kids in this world who look up to [me] as a role model … Whenever they get an opportunity to see me play, I want them to be like, ‘OK, he gave his all.’ You’re always on show—you’re always showcasing your ability…[and] your talent. But for me, I am always showcasing who I am, and who I am shows on the court. I don’t want anyone walking away from seeing me play or seeing me practice and say, ‘He doesn’t work hard,’ I want them to say, ‘Man, he’s a hard worker.’”
Working hard is only half the battle for Dwyane; the other half is working smart. “I don’t know his methods,” Dwyane laughingly says about Grover. “I just know that I have unbelievable trust and faith in the things he tells me to do. And every year, my training has been different; it’s what I need that year, what I need to get strong and what I need to concentrate on…My body is my temple, so I made sure that I dedicated myself to him—not only on the court, but probably in the weight room more so.”
Dwyane’s mention of the weight room is no incidental comment; it’s based on the philosophy Grover pounds into all of his clients, MJ and Kobe as well as Dwyane. “You won’t see any of my guys coming in here and just playing in the games,” Grover says about the notorious, starladen runs that take place at ATTACK. “No one is allowed to play unless they’ve already worked out. We don’t allow our guys to skip steps one and two and just go straight to step three.”
Step one is a lengthy on-court skills and conditioning session. Step two is a rapid-fire workout in the weight room. “We always start on the court to get shots going and to get into a rhythm,” Dwyane says. “You do a lot of things that you do in the games, then you also try new things. Whether it’s something [I] want to work on or things Tim wants me to work on, [it’s] so I can get comfortable with all kinds of different moves. Then we take it into the weight room, which right now is probably the most important part. We do a lot of things that focus on my explosiveness and agility and power in the mix of a 30-minute workout, a very tough 30-minute workout.”
During those 30 minutes, Grover puts Dwyane through supersets designed to accomplish his off-season goals of improving flexibility in his hips, increasing lateral and vertical explosion, and strengthening his shoulders to improve play above the rim.
Grover prescribes supersets that develop specific aspects of Dwyane’s game. “They are a combination of explosive movements timed with endurance movements,” Grover explains. “There are times in basketball when Dwyane’s just jogging back and forth, and then he has to do an explosive movement, then he slows down again. So, we incorporate an explosive jump movement with a slower lateral movement, for example. We take a look at his game, and that’s how his game works.”
The resulting workout was a perfect blend of lower-body explosiveness, conditioning and core and shoulder stabilization. “We covered the whole gamut from top to bottom, and we hardly picked up any weights,” Grover says. “We worked things bilaterally, unilaterally and together. If he can withstand what is going on in this weight room, then we know he’s not going to have any problems with his practices.”
On-Court Skills and Conditioning (Check out a video of Dwyane Wade’s basketball skill and conditioning drills.)
Work on the following skills in all directions for specified duration. Maintain high intensity throughout.
• One-Dribble Pull-Up Shots
• Two-Dribble Pull-Up Shots
• Change-of-Direction Dribbling
• Free Throws
• Full-Court Dribbling
• Drives to the Hoop
Duration: 45-60 minutes
Grover: We are building a basketball player; we are not building a bodybuilder or weightlifter. The emphasis has to be on his sport first. So the court work and the stuff he is known for, he gets paid for and that the fans enjoy should be emphasized first, before he ever enters the weight room. We have him on the basketball court getting his conditioning up, working on different aspects of his game [and] all the stuff that he uses in the game—then [we try] to add something new. When you are a great athlete and you can master these fundamentals, then you have a Michael Jordan, you have a Dwyane Wade or a Kobe Bryant.
Weight Room (Check out a video from Dwyane Wade’s weight room workout).
Alternate Single-Leg Hamstring Curl
• Lie face down on Hamstring Curl machine
• Explosively contract hamstring to bring one heel to butt
• Lower weight with control until leg is straight
• Perform with opposite leg; continue in alternating fashion for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 2-3×10-15 each leg
Coaching Points: Control movement // Do not use hips to move weight // Get full range of motion—from straight leg to heel at butt
Grover: Any time we are doing leg movements, we start in the prone position with some sort of hamstring work. That is part of my philosophy, going back to the MJ days; and I have found that it’s extremely beneficial for any type of athlete, from an injury-prevention standpoint.
Power Plate Glute Bridge
• Lie with back on ground with heels on Power Plate and arms out to sides
• Rise into bridge position so that only shoulder blades touch ground
• Hold for specified duration, keeping straight line from knees to shoulders
• For final set, perform single-leg variation on each side
Modification: If Power Plate is unavailable, perform with heels on small box
Sets/Duration: 2-3×30 seconds
Coaching Points: Do not use elbows to assist in raising hips // Keep back straight // Push through Power Plate with heel[s]
Grover: This is to get the hamstrings and glutes to fire; and in any workout, you want to make sure that the glutes are always firing. If there is one muscle that athletes have a difficult time firing, it’s the glutes.
Depth Box Jump
• Assume athletic stance on edge of plyo box with box of same height about five feet in front
• Hop forward off box and land softly on ground halfway to opposite box
• Immediately explode up and onto box in front
• Land softly on box with bent knees
• Slowly step off box, return to start and repeat for specified reps
Coaching Points: Start with low boxes and increase height as you progress // Spend as little time on ground as possible
Grover: We started him at 24 inches and worked him up to 36, then went up to 42. The average individual can start as low as 12 [inches]. You do not want to start high. This has been a progression for 10 weeks. We do this towards the end of the workout when he’s fatigued, because we know how explosive he is at the beginning of the game. But we want him to be more explosive than anyone else out there at the end of the game.
Slideboard Dynamic Hip/Glute Stretch
• Assume Push-Up position with feet on slideboard
• Bring one leg up and across body so that knee comes to opposite wrist
• Lower hips until stretch is felt through glute and hip
• Return foot to start with control; repeat on opposite side
• Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 3×20-30 each leg
Modification: If slideboard is unavailable, perform on gym floor with towels wrapped around feet
Coaching Points: Begin by performing exercise slowly // Increase speed as you progress // Push down with working knee and thigh to intensify stretch
Grover: One of the issues [Dwyane] had last year was tightness in the hips, IT band and glute area. So, between his simulated jumps, we need to make sure all of those areas are staying loose.
Alternate Explosive Leg Press
• Assume position on Alternate Leg Press machine with knees bent 90 degrees
• In alternating fashion, explosively extend each leg completely, making sure to achieve 90-degree knee bend with opposite leg
• Continue in alternating fashion and aim for target reps within specified duration
Sets/Reps: 3×15 each leg within 20 seconds
Coaching Points: Bring knee to minimum of 90 degrees each rep
Grover: With this, I want him to generate as much force as possible, not only from a single-leg jump, but also from a running standpoint. Our workout was geared toward a lot firing of the hamstrings and glutes, and by bringing the leg all the way back, that’s what he was doing.
Slideboard Jackknife and Abduction
• Crouch down with feet on slideboard and hands firmly on ground in front
• Slide feet back to Push-Up position
• Slide feet out as wide as possible and drop hips toward slideboard
• Slide feet back together and then forward to start
• Repeat quickly for specified reps
Coaching Points: Drop hips and core when spreading legs apart
Grover: We want to make sure that Dwyane’s hips are dropping on this and not staying still. From a technical standpoint, it’s not the correct way to do the exercise, but from the Dwyane-Wade-sport-specific standpoint, that’s the way the exercise is supposed to be done.
PPT Band Ankle Circuit
• Sit on table with one leg extended so ankle is past edge
• Loop PPT Band around foot and apply tension to band
• Perform specified reps of Plantar Flexion [pointing toes], eversion [rotating foot out] and inversion [rotating foot in]
• Perform set on opposite leg
Sets/Reps: 2×30-100 each movement, each leg
Coaching Points: Generate movement from ankle only
Grover: The PPT Band is something I came up with many years ago. Just like how we always start with the Hamstring Curl, we always finish with the PPT Band to prevent injuries. The PPT Band puts straight emphasis on the muscles that stabilize the ankle. We won’t say this prevents ankle sprains, but what it does do is strengthen the muscles, so that in case you do sprain an ankle, it is strong enough to bounce back and [reduce] the severity and time off the court. So, [what would’ve been a] Grade-II sprain may only be a Grade-I sprain; or instead of needing to take a week off, you don’t miss any time. In basketball, you’re playing on a level surface, but against un-level people—other people’s feet and legs all over the place. You want your ankles to be strong enough to withstand anything thrown at them.
Want to see more of D-Wade grinding out in the weight room? Watch a video from Dwyane Wade’s workout.
Watch a video of Dwyane Wade discussing his basketball workout overview, from on-court drills to weight room workouts.