Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
This installment of YouTube Millionaires is brought to you by Epidemic Sound.
With the NBA Playoffs set to begin, top basketball stars are preparing to show off their best moves, and on YouTube, Rocky Ullah is ready to break down those maneuvers.
Ullah, known as Coach Rocky, is the man behind I Love Basketball TV, a channel that offers training tips and tutorials for aspiring hoopsters. Ullah, a former professional player, preaches the fundamentals of shooting, dribbling, and passing while also taking cues from the signature moves of stars past and present, including Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kyrie Irving, and Stephen Curry. By elucidating those techniques in an engaging style, Ullah has brought more than one million subscribers to his channel. Here’s our chat with him:
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have more than one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Rocky Ullah: It feels amazing to reach over one million subscribers. When I started this channel I never even imagined reaching that mark. My goal starting out was to simply help more players improve their basketball skills. It’s a feat that’s still hard to believe. I would love to give a special thanks to all of our I Love Basketball TV players. We are a true family and without them this wouldn’t be possible. They are the ones that keep me motivated to continue this journey.
TF: What made you decide to start posting basketball videos on YouTube?
RU: While I was living in the Dominican Republic, where I played professionally, often times I would play basketball in the barrios. These would be some of the poorest neighborhoods, but there would always be kids who would watch me and want to workout with me. Many of the kids didn’t have shoes, much less a basketball, so being able to work with them was great and it really changed me. I no longer got the same pleasure from playing the game that I did from helping players.
So when I returned home, I already knew that I wanted to continue to train players. At the time, my friend Adam Linkenauger already had a decent sized YouTube channel helping players wit vertical jump training. Together we started the I Love Basketball TV channel where I began to post weekly videos.
TF: Does coaching basketball on YouTube require a different approach than coaching in person? If so, how?
RU: Yes, coaching on YouTube is a little different than in person. A lot of things I teach in person are much simpler than they are in videos. Even though all of my videos are training specific, they also have to be entertaining to keep players watching. So there has to be a perfect mixture of training and entertainment. In person coaching and training is much different because I can just teach without needing to provide any entertainment value.
For example, on YouTube I may breakdown Kyrie Irving’s best five crossovers because that’s what players want to see. But when I’m coaching players in person, very rarely will I work with a player on these moves because I’d rather spend the time working with him on the fundamentals. Unfortunately, doing the fundamentals isn’t the most entertaining topic for YouTube.
TF: Do you recommend new players emulate the form of NBA stars when developing their shot and handle? Why or why not?
RU: So what I recommend new players do is find their own shooting form based on the fundamentals of shooting and what feels most comfortable to them. It’s great to study and learn from NBA stars but at the same time it’s important that players develop their own shooting form. The NBA is full of great shooters like Stephen Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard, etc. and all these guys have their own shots. Imagine if they tried to emulate one another’s shot…they probably wouldn’t be as effective.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of shooting is confidence. That confidence is built through practice and repetition. It’s hard to shoot the same shot when it’s not natural to you. A big mistake I see young players make, that I used to make when I was younger, is to change their shot to be like their favorite players. One week I would want to shoot like Allen Iverson and the next week like Michael Jordan. The frequent changes prevented me from being able to master a shooting form.
Again, it’s important to know the fundamentals of good shooting form. Going back to the best shooters in the NBA, they all follow the basic fundamentals and mechanics of good shooting but implement them in their own way. So once a player knows the basic mechanics of a proper jump shot they can then adjust to what feels most comfortable for them.
TF: Do you choose which players to make videos about based on your own interests, or do the requests of your fans decide what videos you make?
RU: It’s a little bit of both. My team and I will choose videos based on what we think viewers need and want. I will say, our ability to foresee the future has allowed us to grow as big as we have on YouTube, because we are constantly able to create videos that the viewers want, before they even know they want it. We also do create videos based on the requests of our viewers, especially if we see multiple people requesting the same type of video.
TF: When you were developing your own skills, which players did you use as inspiration?
RU: So when I was growing up my favorite player was Michael Jordan. I remember one time, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I actually cried after he lost a game. My mom threatened to never let me watch another game if I was going to cry every time he lost. MJ really made me want to start playing basketball.
But as I got older and more serious about the game, I would say the player that inspired my skills the most was Allen Iverson. He was extremely relatable to me because he was small and from Virginia like me. Where I’m from, we didn’t want to be like Mike, we wanted to be like AI.
TF: What do you think is the most common mistake basketball players make when learning the fundamentals of the game?
RU: The most common mistake by far is players not actually learning the fundamentals. Because of social media, players have fallen in love with the ankle breakers, the high flying dunks, and the 40 foot three pointers. As much as I love the ankle breakers and dunks, many players practice these things before they can make a left-handed lay-up or shoot a free throw. Instead of focusing on making the highlight plays, players need to focus on improving their fundamental skills.
Basketball is like building a house. You need a solid foundation to build on top of. Once you master the fundamentals then you can work on the fancy moves, long range three pointers, and highlight dunks.
TF: Outside of basketball, what are some of your other interests?
RU: Many people think we are just a big YouTube channel but through YouTube we’ve built one of the largest online basketball training companies in the world. So my main interest outside of basketball is running the business. I’m addicted to business, it’s like a sport for me. I create many of our website pages, graphics, sales copy, marketing email, etc. so I really love improving my business knowledge and skills.
But outside of basketball and business I really love to read and write. My favorite books to read are about ancient philosophy and alchemy. Last but not least I love to travel with my family and enjoy this beautiful planet that we are fortunate enough to live on.
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
RU: Next for our channel is to continue to provide great content to our audience. Also, we are looking to incorporate more “live” training with our young players and hopefully some NBA players!
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