The grind never stops for kids wanting to improve their skills on the hardwood. Jaylen Johnson is making sure future Pioneers and Lady Pioneers can work on their game as the holidays approach.
Johnson, who has made a name for himself while training kids at Bernard Gym, will hold a training event for boys and girls Friday night at Bobby Ray. Elementary kids will work from 4-5 p.m., followed by middle school athletes from 5-6 p.m. Johnson will work with high school players from 6-7:30 p.m. Along with his personalized training, Johnson plans to have many college players who work with him in Smyrna in town to help the local youngsters.
“We’ve been working with kids since October and it’s been growing and growing,” said Johnson about the interest level locally for individual training. “Our main thing is we’re very skill based. We’ll base it off the kid’s current skill level and go from there. You have to see what they can do and then work to grow it. We’ll have drills during the workouts and some competitions too.”
Johnson has made it a point to swing back to McMinnville, where he was raised and attended school until fifth grade. He spent one more semester in Warren County in seventh grade, but the majority of his athletic career was spent in Smyrna, where he excelled in his playing days before developing into a reputable trainer of many college athletes.
He’s hopeful that having many of his pupils who play at the next level can help benefit local kids, particularly those in middle school and high school who have an eye at making the jump to college ball in the coming years.
“I think it’s big for the kids to get a feel for what it takes to get to that level. It’ll be good for them to train with them and compete against them. Our D1 and D2 guys will definitely be in action when the high school kids are training, so everybody can get a look at what they’re doing as well,” said Johnson, who encouraged the younger kids and their families to stay and watch the last session of training.
Johnson doesn’t plan of taking his foot off the gas during the majority of the training sessions. He’s also a big believer in basing his work off a competition, where kids get an early feel of testing their growing skills against each other and mimic situations and battles they’ll see on the court this winter.
“Crossing up a cone isn’t like crossing up a person – I’m big on game speed. It’s going to be high intensity,” said Johnson. “Training is good and working on your skill is great, but playing in games gives you the knowledge of the situations. If our numbers allow, we’ll have some game-like situations, plus some other competitions and maybe some King of the Court.”
Johnson noted that some of his biggest groups so far have been with middle school girls, who will also get the opportunity to train and compete with the college athletes. Johnson is hopeful many high school kids will also make their way to Bobby Ray Thursday to gain some knowledge and pick the brains of current college hoopers.
For more information on Johnson’s training event - including age groups and pricing - or to work on booking individual lessons, contact him at (615) 926-9495.