Updated: Aug 29, 2019
This basketball season, if you want to refine your sharpshooting skills, reclaim your shot that may have lost its groove, or develop that feathery touch you always wished you had, you're in luck. Ali Thomas will conduct shooting clinics throughout the 2018-2019 basketball season. Thomas is MAD's Director of Player Development, an Assistant Varsity Boy's Basketball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director at Saint Ignatius. In conjunction with MAD, Coach Thomas also administers weekly Mind, Body, Skills clinics on the S.I. Campus and at the Oakland Soldiers' Soldiertown. Thomas who starred for the Wildcats in high school, was a four year standout at the University of San Francisco, and played seven years in the EuroLeague, will share his knowledge, experience, and skills with girls and boys of all ages and talent levels.
A student of the game, Coach Thomas brings a lifetime of experience to illuminate his basketball instruction and has always taken an integrative approach to basketball. As far back as he can remember, basketball has been an integral part of his life. In high school, Thomas was already a basketball hound, but when S.I. Varsity Coach Don Lippi showed the team pictures of himself playing basketball for the U.S. Army Team while stationed in Germany, the young Wildcat star formed an entirely new vision of basketball. Thomas recalls seeing the photos of the Army team and thinking that was what he wanted to do; he wanted to see the world while playing basketball. After graduating from U.S.F., he bypassed the N.B.A. and headed straight for Europe. During a seven year stint in the EuroLeague, Thomas played for teams in Germany, Ukraine, Romania, and Slovakia, and in the process, he toured as much of Europe as possible, learning about the various cultures and histories and forming lasting friendships along the way.
One of these lasting friendships was cultivated here in San Francisco, right in his own backyard. Each summer, during the off-season, Thomas would return to San Francisco to train and compete in San Francisco's Pro-Am League. The Pro-Am League gave him the opportunity to compete against N.B.A. players, and During one of these summer breaks a mutual friend, Johnny Duggan, introduced him to MAD Director John Murray. Duggan was another S.I. basketball star who had trained with Murray and recommended the strength and conditioning coach to his old schoolmate. As Thomas and Murray worked together, they became fast friends discovering that they shared similar philosophies on playing, practicing, and teaching the game of basketball.
In his extensive experience playing basketball all over the world, Thomas was continually disappointed that most basketball programs were ineffective in their approaches to practicing and training. A few were on the right track, but they were usually a little off on their general philosophy and lacked the requisite attention to detail. Thomas was pleasantly surprised that Coach Murray employed skill specific training and conditioning, something that he had long thought was essential to proper skills development. Thomas was also impressed that Murray, a trained sports psychologist and a martial artist with extensive experience in Jeet Kune Do, Krav Maga, Kuk Sool Won, and Tai Chi, emphasized a correct mental approach to practice and competition which included mental training and conditioning. Thomas had long believed that proper mental training was essential to peak performance. Each summer, as they worked together, they would engage in a running discussion of their evolving ideas regarding basketball and training, sowing the seeds of what would eventually become MAD's Mind, Body, Skills Program.
In 2010, after eight years of EuroLeague play and seven Pro-Am Championships, more than any player in the history of basketball, and a Pro-Am MVP Award, Thomas decided it was time to channel his passion for the game into teaching it, and he transitioned his role on the hardwood from player to coach. He began his coaching career as an Assistant Coach for the San Francisco City College Mens Basketball Team, working alongside Head Coach Justin Labagh and Assistant Coach Adam D'Acquisto, both former S.I. teammates of Thomas'. Today he is an Assistant Coach for the S.I. Boys Varsity Basketball Team, working alongside Head Coach Rob Marcaletti, also Thomas' former S.I. teammate. Additionally, he serves as an Assistant Athletic Director to S.I.'s Athlectic Director John Mulkerrins for both the girls and the boys basketball programs.
Thomas' expertise is in great demand, and working as MAD's Technical Advisor and as MAD's Director of Player Development, he also conducts weekly Mind, Body, Skills Clinics on the S.I. Campus and at the Oakland Soldiers' Soldiertown. Thomas has also coached AAU teams at the Olympic Club and Bay City, but once his daughter was born, the demands of family life precluded him from maintaining the hectic travel schedule of an AAU season. However, he and MAD continue to conduct Mind, Body, Skills Clinics with Bay City on a regular basis.
Upon his retirement from professional basketball, Thomas continued his work with John Murray. Whenever a player sought out the young coach for individual training, Thomas would enlist Murray for the player's strength and conditioning. Similarly, if Murray had a player rehabbing from an injury, he would recruit Thomas to revive and improve the athlete's basketball skills. All the while, the two colleagues continued their ongoing discussion furthering the development of their training philosophies and methods.
This running conversation came to a head when they rehabbed Brandon Rush together. Rush is an NBA player who competed for the Indiana Pacers, the Golden State Warriors, the Utah Jazz, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Portland Trailblazers. In a game with the Warriors against the Timberwolves during the 2012 season, Rush tore his ACL in a collision with Zach Randolph, and the injury required extensive surgery. Post surgery, the young athlete faced a daunting road back to the N.B.A. In addition to the trauma to his body, Rush's confidence was shaken , and he was worried about his prospects for continuing his career. Getting Rush back on an N.B.A. court would require a comprehensive application of all the methods and techniques the two coaches had been developing together regarding the trainee's mindset, his strength and conditioning, and the reacquisition of his basketball skills. Fortunately, Brandon Rush bought into the training program, and he worked courageously and diligently in order to get back into a uniform. Returning to action the following season, Rush went on to have a successful N.B.A. career going on to play with the Utah Jazz, the Golden State Warriors, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Portland Trailblazers winning an N.B.A. Championship ring with the Warriors in 2015.
In the aftermath of Rush's rehabilitation, Thomas and Murray realized that it was time to formalize their training system, and they drafted what is now known as the Mind, Body, Skills Program, or M.B.S. For a detailed description of the Mind, Body, Skills Program, visit the MAD website at https://www.madtraining.org/mbs. In addition to Thomas' vast experience from his storied career, Coach Thomas and MAD bring the core fundamentals of M.B.S. to his shooting clinics.
The clinics will focus on the shooting routine, athletic performance training, and personalized video feedback. In his shooting routine instruction, Coach Thomas will address the shooters mentality, form shooting, the creation of daily habits, repetitions off the dribble, shots coming off screens, as well as catch and shoot technique. The athletic performance training will be conducted by MAD Coaches, and it will consist of competitve breathing, mental acuity, functional core development and explosive strength. All sessions will be videotaped, analyzed, and databased. After the last session, Coach Thomas will send a personalized video for each player to reference his or her past sessions, reviewing strengths as well as areas to focus on for improvement.
Coach Thomas' shooting clinics are scheduled for two sessions. The first session will be held in November and December of 2018, and the second session will be held in January and February of 2019. Each session will consist of twelve 1 1/2 hour clinics. Except for Thursday, December 13, all clinics will be held on Monday and Friday evenings from 6:15-7:45 p.m. The cost per session is $399.00. To sign up or for more information, go to https://www.siprep.org/athletics/camps/basketball/mbs