Chris Hyppa is a Tacoma, WA based professional skills trainer. He has trained several NBA/WNBA stars, overseas professionals, and high profile college players like Kelsey Plum. He has owned and operated Chris Hyppa Basketball for six years now and recently won a Washington State Championship as an assistant at Henry Foss High School. Hyppa sat down with Midwest Elite Basketball to discuss his training philosophy, relationship building with players, and the future of the professional skills training industry.
“Honestly, I believe in building relationships first. My players need to trust me. Once that happens, I can break them down and build them back up. I think also, my attention to detail, structure and intensity draws me to players.“- Chris Hyppa
Midwest Elite Basketball: Chris, thank you for taking the time to partake in this Q&A.
Chris Hyppa: No problem, thanks for having me.
MEB: First off, it has been a crazy and exciting few months for you this spring. The high school program you coach at won a state championship, your trainee Kelsey Plum just got drafted first overall in the WNBA draft and another client, Avery Bradley, is in the NBA playoffs. Tell us your thoughts on the successful spring you are having?
CH: Man, every so often you reach the pinnacle in this game. Winning a championship, seeing players you work with have success. I feel like I am being rewarded for YEARS of being loyal to this game, investing in players.
MEB: Kelsey Plum just topped off a remarkable career with a historic senior season. How did you and Kelsey meet and how long have you been working with her?
CH: I approached Kelsey after her Freshman season at the University of Washington (2014). We hit it off and have been working together ever since.
MEB: She is obviously a special player and person. Give us three words that describe Kelsey and her success?
CH: Focused. Determined. Winner. Her success is not a surprise to me. When you see the early mornings, the late nights, weight work, track work, countless hours…she has been prepping for moments like these. One of her goals was to be National Player of The Year. I’m sure a lot of players have that goal. She is different. She truly believed she could do it and made sure her work matched her expectations.
MEB: Kelsey and Avery aren’t the only pros you have worked with. Who are some of the big name hoopers who you have trained?
CH: Nate Robinson (Former 3 x NBA Slam Dunk Champion), Courtney Vandersloot (WNBA), Alex Montgomery (WNBA) and many overseas professionals.
MEB: That is an impressive list of players. How did Chris Hyppa Basketball start?
CH: I have always had players in the gym…as a coach, your job is to help players improve. Before/after practice, in the off season. One day I had a parent offer to pay me to train their daughter. Light bulb came on and CHB has been in existence for 6 years now.
MEB: Tell us your philosophy on player development. What makes you one of the most sought after skills trainer on the West Coast, if not the country?
CH: Honestly, I believe in building relationships first. My players need to trust me. Once that happens, I can break them down and build them back up. I think also, my attention to detail, structure, and intensity draws me to players.
MEB: Midwest Elite Basketball was built on the principles of passion, dedication, commitment to improvement, willingness to step out of comfort zones, and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals. You have a motto, “Passion attracts Passion”. Explain what you mean by that and how it applies to your business and everyday life.
CH: I just believe that if you follow what you’re passionate about you will attract everything you need to be successful. The right people, the right situation, financial stability.
MEB: You’re not just building players, you’re building people. You mentioned how important building relationships is in your line of work. How do you foster and maintain relationships with your players?
CH: Like I said earlier, it’s the most important part to me. Checking in with them, posting them on my social media, watching their games, critiquing their play. Telling them I love them. Players appreciate that.
MEB: Back to your business. The professional skills training industry has really grown in the last decade. What does the future hold for the industry? What role will personal skill trainers play in the game of basketball moving forward?
CH: There are tons of “Trainers” now a days. Some good, some bad. It seems everybody has a trainer. I remember when all you did was go to the park or an open gym and PLAY! You did what it took to win so you could stay on and play for hours. If you lost or didn’t play well that day, you yourself went and worked on your game. I’m a coach first. I love helping players get better. I do think we will begin seeing more and more Skill Development Specialists on College/Professional benches.
MEB: What do high school or college coaches need to know about skill development? What do they need to know about personal skill trainers like yourself?
CH: Assess the player you’re trying to help. What are their weaknesses? Help them turn those to strengths. Player will be better, team will be better. Team wise, where do you get your shots from? Drill those! Help players better understand what shots they will need to practice to be successful in your system.
MEB: What do players need to know about skill development? What do they need to know about personal skill trainers?
CH: I’d say the same but in reverse. What am I weak at? Go work on those things until you feel comfortable enough to do them during games. As far as choosing a trainer, do research. Look at playing experience, coaching experience. Who have they worked with. Do you trust them? Maybe go sit in on a session to see if it will help you improve.
MEB: Give us an example of what a great skill development session looks like. What is important? What is not?
CH: I break my sessions into four segments: 1.) Skill Building (Scoring with both hands, ball handling, footwork, passing) 2.) Situational Breakdowns (Shots off an action: Drive/Kicks, ball screen, using screens, transition options, etc) 3.) REPS (High volume shooting: Catch/Shoot, pull ups, etc) 4.) Conditioning
MEB: Appreciate the time Chris. You are a great ambassador to the game. Look forward to watching you spread your passion further. Thank you.
CH: Appreciate it! I love sharing to help coaches and players get better!