BANGOR — Basketball has been a significant part of Warren native Matt MacKenzie’s life — first during his playing days, then during his coaching days, and more recently as a full-time trainer for basketball players around the state.
MacKenzie, who graduated from Husson University in with a bachelor of science degree in physical education and earned a master’s degree in athletic administration from the University of Arkansas, was a four-year letter winner with the Husson men’s basketball team as a forward from 2007 to 2010.
MacKenzie finished his collegiate basketball career with 1,300 points, 465 rebounds, 51 assists, 73 steals and 38 blocks in 105 games, according to his Husson biography. The biography also notes: “The senior captain helped guide the Eagles to the program’s first NAC Championship and berth to the NCAA DIII National Championship tournament in 2009, while being named the NAC Tournament MVP, and two NAC Regular Season Titles in 2007 and 2009 and a NAC Runner-Up finish in 2007.”
He earned National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court in 2009 and 2010, and ranks among Husson’s all-time career leaders in free throws attempted (446), field goal percentage (.572), field goals made (539), blocks, blocked shots average and points, per the university biography.
MacKenzie cofounded RESULTS in 2011, while working as an assistant basketball coach for the Husson women’s basketball team, with the goal of teaching and developing basketball players at all levels across Maine.
“We started by hosting day clinics and summer camps in small communities all over the state — offering our instruction in collaboration with recreation departments, YMCAs, and high school basketball programs,” he said.
Two years later, the offered services expanded to include private and small group player development training, which has consistently kept MacKenzie and his team busy training basketball players since.
“Though we've expanded, our goal nearly 10 years later has stayed consistent; to help develop Maine basketball players, and to do it the right way,” he commented.
His organization’s holistic approach to developing complete basketball players is what MacKenzie says separates his training program from the competition.
“We offer on-court training that includes not only individual skill work, but development of decision making and in-game reads (through film study, drill work and small-sided games),” he stated. “I've also partnered and opened a training facility with an incredibly knowledgeable sports performance coach, Shawn Demaray, who specializes in building our athletes' strength, speed, agility, and explosiveness.”
Not only does MacKenzie dedicate time to developing basketball players, he emphasizes his own professional development so he can share more knowledge with those he trains.
“As much as I feel like we offer a quality product, it's important to me to always practice what I preach & continue to improve myself personally as a teacher and coach,” he said. “I have some great mentors that I've connected with over the past couple of years, and have been fortunate to participate in a lot of valuable professional development — ranging from youth player development clinics with USA Basketball, to participating in several on-court workouts in Los Angeles and Las Vegas with All-NBA and NBA All-Stars and their trainers during the the summers of 2018 and 2019. Continuing to improve my own knowledge and ability to work with players effectively at all levels will only help me offer a better experience to the kids that step into my own gym, and that's of the utmost importance to me.”
With many years of basketball experience behind him, MacKenzie commented on the most important aspects of training that athletes should focus on, namely, aspects of development they probably are not currently putting enough emphasis on.
“Without a doubt, basketball players should be spending more time working on skills and actions that they’re going to be expected to do regularly in a game,” he said. “Players should be forced to make decisions and reads in every training session. Rather than spending all of their practice reps going 1 on 0 with blocked skill practice, they should be working on executing their skills effectively within game situations — with the presence of defense when possible. If you're not working on what you see in a game, you'll be less prepared to make an impact in the heat of competition.”
MacKenzie also commented on the most common mistake he sees in training players that needs to be corrected.
“The most common mistake I see players make is getting wrapped up in working on what they think looks flashy on social media [versus] what is actually going to help them impact winning,” he said. “Spending hours working on ball handling combinations that require [five to six] dribbles to create space in isolation may look good for Instagram, but is a mostly unacceptable play in team basketball.”
As a former Midcoast basketball player himself, MacKenzie intends to bring more training opportunities to the Midcoast’s basketball players, and is working closely with Rachel Coor, the new owner of the Midcoast Athletics Center, to do so.
Future plans for Midcoast training activities through RESULTS include hosting RESULTS basketball clinics featuring guest appearances from current or former professionals, coaches, and world renowned professional basketball trainers.
There are also plans in the works to create a RESULTS 3-League that would include weekly player development training combined with controlled competitive game-play in a 3 vs. 3 style format.
“The kids of Midcoast Maine love basketball, and I hope to do the best I can to extend some opportunities down that way as much as I can,” said MacKenzie.