Coaching Pro's & Joes

Coaching Pro's & Joes

From New York Family Sports | March 2009

Ross Burns Teaches What He Knows and That’s A Lot
By Adam Sivits

It’s a Friday night in Manhattan and the streets are emptier than usual. The light drizzle cascading down, turning the sidewalks into thousands of tiny glistening puddles, drives everyone inside.

In other words, Ross Burns thinks the weather is just fine.

“I was always a gym rat," he says with a gleam in his eye, sitting hunched over in a chair looking like he wants to dribble between his legs just because he can, “I was always on the court working on my game. I love working with players."

Burns walked on at UMass in 1995 as the Minuteman went to the Final Four. After graduating he worked on staffs at Wagner, Youngstown State and Fordham University before founding Pro Hoops in Manhattan with his younger brother Tim, who played on the George Mason squad that made a miracle run to the 2006 Final Four.

“Tim was always working out with me," Burns says. “I always had him on the road, at camps at a young age. He was my little field test."

Apparently the brothers passed with flying colors.

According to Burns, Pro Hoops had just a handful of players as a little as nine months ago, but great results and positive word of mouth multiplied that tenfold.

“You don’t really get that advanced stuff anywhere else," fourteen-year-old Henry Lowe says. “I’m ten times better than I was since been working with [Burns]. He teaches you really ankle-breaking moves that no one else really knows."

That’s evident as Burns takes a small group of boys between the ages of thirteen and fifteen and shows them how to take a few hard dribbles into the lane and “rip" the ball, or pull it back across the body to the other hand to side step a defender. It’s a move that most won’t master until high school at the earliest, and some pro’s never did.

“You come in the gym, it’s you and a coach," Burns says. “You can get better, polish up your skill sets, and if you want to take it to the next level and get in some group work, you can do that."

Even though the Burns brothers work with college players, and have with NBA players such as Ben Gordon, Jameer Nelson and Speedy Claxton, they will take both boys and girls ages ten and up and work with them on their fundamentals in various locations throughout Manhattan.

“We really try to give the players a lot of control when they work out," Burns says. “We try to survey the players on what they want to get better at, [and] incorporate that into their workout."

It’s a specific method carefully culled and picked from many mentors throughout the years.

“I played for John Calipari [Kentucky Head Coach], and he was awesome," Burns says of the former UMass coach who nearly took Memphis to the National Title last year. “We had, I think six head coaches on our staff [at UMass], and I got to learn from all those guys every day. The coaching tree really branched out."

Luckily, all any good tree really needs is a little rain.