Kyle Travis started playing basketball in the backyard as a kid. Little did he know that years later, life would lead him back to the same place.
Kyle Travis, a well-known basketball trainer from San Francisco, flew into Manila earlier this month for a one-day training camp at the Activate Sports Center inside Sparta Philippines, Mandaluyong. His trip here was part of his Southeast Asia Tour, where he held training programs for athletes and coaches from the Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia.
“These countries hold a special place in my heart, especially the Philippines where my family is from,” he shared on his Instagram.
Fortunately, we were able to sit down with him in between his training sessions to talk about his program and the game he loves most. And while we were excited to learn more about his training program, his thoughts on the sport, and his tips for anyone who wants to learn, what we discovered was so much more than that.
Behind the trainer who started ICAN Player Development is an athlete with a true passion for the game and a deep connection with basketball — two things that he started developing as a five-year-old, and only got stronger as he grew through several trials and tribulations in his career as a player.
Starting in the backyard with dad
Like most basketball players, Kyle Travis’ love for the game started as a kid, playing in the backyard with his dad. At the age of five, his parents bought him a basketball hoop and he started playing in a little five-by-five dirt path behind his home. Eventually, his dad took the little dirt round and replaced it with a six-by-six concrete path, where he found more space to work on his skills — ball handling, footwork, and plays.
“That’s where it started for me — in the backyard,” he shared.
But apart from taking the ball out back every day, Kyle was also very much into the technical aspect of things, even as a boy. He and his mom would go to the library and rent out VHS tapes. “I think I rented every single basketball tape that I could find and there were times when I would rent them a second time,” he said.
This was how he developed an early love of the game. He even shared that when playing in his backyard, he would envision himself matching up against his favorite player. And like all kids who feel they need more from the game, he made the transition to playing more competitively.
“When I started playing competitively, that’s when I really started dedicating six days a week just to work on my game,” Kyle recalled. “I had a dad who helped me and rebounded thousands and thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of shots for me.”
In addition to playing at home, Kyle emphasized his dad’s role in his growth as a player. When he was younger, they would go to 24-hour fitness gyms at midnight just to work on his skills, and fostering that drive is what really helped him to develop.
Forging a new path
Through his skill and dedication to basketball, Kyle Travis went on to excel in high school. However, as some athletes do, Travis faced a rough patch. After suffering from an ACL tear, only four weeks after his recovery, he experienced a cardiac arrest.
“With the cardiac arrest, it caused a lot of concern in the Division 1 colleges that were recruiting me,” he shared. After the universities withdrew their recruitment, this turned Travis onto a new path that he perhaps did not foresee.
“I ended up going to a bible college instead. I wanted to find my purpose and I wanted to find my calling because my plans didn’t work out, so I thought, you know what? I’m gonna see what I’m really meant to do.”
Throughout the three years he spent at college, he was still being recruited to play professionally in the Philippines. However, when those plans ultimately did not pan out the way he would have hoped, he ended up getting a full-time job to play “the safe route,” as he referred to it. “It was good benefits, decent salary, good retirement, so I just decided to play it safe,” he said. “But fast forward eight years later, and I came back full circle with the game of basketball.”
Back in the yard
Social media has undoubtedly changed all facets of life — how we interact, how we absorb knowledge, and how we spend our time — and it definitely changed Kyle Travis’ life, too.
While on Instagram and other social media platforms, Kyle found himself stumbling upon a lot of basketball content, which fueled his inspiration to finally make his way back into the sport.
“I was watching some trainers on social media, and I knew that I could do the exact same thing that they were doing,” he recalled. “So after about two years of doing a different side of hustles, I decided to stop my excuse of pushing basketball training to the side.”
With the help of his brother and dad, they cut down the trees in their backyard, leveled the ground, and built a court there — the same way it all started for Travis years ago.
With his setup, he was able to get clients in for training sessions. “I knew right then and there that I wanted to go into full-time training and I wanted to take it as far as it could go because immediately, it became a passion, which I didn’t know I had all these years.”
Using that motivation and passion, he watched more training videos, worked hard, and now is working as a full-time trainer on his very own platform.
Coming full circle
Taking the first two words from the Bible passage, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Kyle Travis formed his own training platform: ICAN Player Development.
“I took those first two words and put them into one because if you also tell yourself that ‘I cannot do this,’ then you are right. But if you tell yourself, ‘I can,’ you’re also right,” Kyle explained. “A lot of times, we are the biggest hindrances to our own success.”
So, with ICAN Player Development, Travis enables anyone at any age who wants to come in and work on their skills. In fact, he was even able to develop an app for his skills-training database where players from anywhere in the world can access his video tutorials, drills, and tips.
But even as a trainer, Kyle acknowledges that he himself has to stay mentally sharp and updated with the game. “With the pop of social media, I was able to connect, I was able to network, and you’re able to stay up to date with what’s going on, what’s trending,” he explained.
“Basketball is ever-changing, it’s ever-growing, so as much as you’re teaching, you to have to soak everything in and keep learning. Always be a sponge.”
Now, through his hard work, determination, and passion, his platform is bigger than ever. Throughout the setbacks and curveballs that were thrown his way, Kyle still managed to take all the pieces he was given and bring them all together to forge a path for a more exciting and evolved game.
“Now, as I try to instill these lessons in the next generation is something that comes full circle,” he says. “It’s a beautiful thing just being a part of it.”
Images from ICAN Player Development on Facebook.