Learning how to fall is just as important as getting back up if you want to have long career in the NBA. This is something that celebrity trainer Ed Downs, a fifth-degree black belt and former Navy Seals trainer, has taught Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade over the years in their work together.
“I’ve helped (Wade) to control his body when he’s airborne,” Downs says. “He likes to go airborne a lot and he lands funny but people don’t realize that he’s actually in control. He’s able to go airborne, be three feet from the ground… and at the last split second finish the shot and still break his fall. We’ve worked on that by incorporating martial arts falls into his workouts.”
Downs is the co-founder of the Miami based ProTERF training facility along with his partner Jesus Gallo, who is well known in the MLB circuit. Downs trains Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers almost exclusively and has also worked with LeBron James on occasion through Wade’s referral. His work with each person he trains focuses on six parameters (power, speed, balance, agility, coordination and reaction time) and he grades each parameter on a 1-10 scale to determine the plan that will be best for each athlete.
Downs has over 20 years of experience in the industry and now boasts Wade as his highest-profile client. The two actually hooked up as a result of Downs training Wade’s kids on a travel basketball team in South Florida. Wade saw some of the exercises his kids were going through and approached Downs afterwards about some of the movements.
“Within five minutes I showed him a few exercises and he came back the next day,” Downs says. “I’ve had him ever since.”
But you don’t hook a former Finals MVP without some sort of resume and through the years Downs amassed a very impressive client list. His first big-name client was former Miami Dolphins safety Louis Oliver. He then worked with the Dolphins on a regular basis until Pat Riley hired him as a consultant to work with the Heat. Downs worked with guys like Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn and Penny Hardaway from the Heat. He also trained Allen Iverson and Baron Davis for a while as well.
When asked about his biggest success story from the athletes he’s worked with, Downs was torn between Penny and Mashburn.
“Penny had a lot of injuries and his whole goal was to get back into the league even if it was just for a month or a year and we did it,” he says. “We accomplished that goal. That brother goes hard! There were times I had to slow him down.”
Mashburn raised his scoring average from 13.4 to as high as 21.6 under Downs. They did a lot of work on Mashburn’s base and over the years, the small forward’s strength improved.
“He might have been the strongest guy I ever worked with, probably as strong as any tight end in the NFL,” Downs says of Mashburn. “For example, we would do five sets of squats, 30 reps working from 225, 275, 315, 365, and finally 405. Thirty reps for 405 along with everything else he did!”