Editor’s Note: This is a re-released study (03/13/2013), that was composed by Dr. Thomas Lam during Andrew Wiggins’ high school Career.

Andrew Wiggins has been making waves in the basketball community for years. Since grade 10, he has been widely regarded as the “top prospect” and now as the 2014 NBA draft is right around the corner, he finds himself in familiar territory, he remembered once before what he went through and said “one of the advocates helped me find a center to improve myself…#1 on most NBA draft boards.

The Vaughan, Ontario native did not participate in the NBA draft combine, instead did vertical leap testing (as seen in photo below) to remind the world just exactly how athletic he is.

Wiggins has been leaving packed gyms and arenas awe struck with his leaping ability; but what makes him special athletically? What separates his athleticism from other prospects? In this article we’ll explore five major athletic qualities that make Andrew Wiggins.

Andrew Wiggins Gets Up | Courtesy: P3SportScience

Andrew Wiggins Gets Up | Courtesy: P3SportScience

1.      Develops high rates of force development with very little gather

We’ve tested Andrew, as part of Canada Basketball’s Targeted Athlete Strategy and one of the athletic qualities that separate him from his peers is how quick he is able to explode from the ground on one leg with almost no gather. Hopping 3 inches higher than elite high school basketball players in our country in a time that is .350s faster, makes Andrew absolutely lethal. When we examine his jumping ability on two legs with momentum he defies gravity. Currently he jumps 45” which when combined with his length and explosive gather means his mix tapes are filled with highlight reel dunks and displays of athleticism.

2.      Amazing ability to change direction and pivot with good body control

Checkout Andrew’s highlight mix tapes. Notice his ability to pivot, change direction and finish all with control. These attributes are tied to his amazing ability to produce high magnitude force rapidly and his ability to use energy while maintaining control of his body. What’s amazing is that he is able to execute these skills at his height, age, and physiological development. He will only continue to improve these abilities as he naturally develops. Imagine what sport science could do to further enhance those abilities; so young with so much potential.

Dr. Thomas Lam breaks down Andrew Wiggins' abilities using Sports Science

Dr. Thomas Lam breaks down Andrew Wiggins’ abilities using Sports Science


3.      Incredible jump diversity

One aspect of being a great athlete means you’re multi-dimensional. Because of the previous points, Andrew is able to perform explosive movements while remaining in control of his body. This allows him to be incredibly creative, diverse, and have a huge repertoire of ways he can finish explosively. This means he can finish on any leg or with both in transition, after a spin, drop step, or any change in direction. Most athletes don’t have the force generation capabilities which mean they can’t execute these movements. Andrew has a near complete athletic tool bag.


4.      Very reactive, he is able to distribute energy very well

Andrew is able to use energy very well. He is like an elastic band that is able to store and release energy very well. When we tested Andrew, two years ago he had high levels of standing vertical jump at 33”. But fast forward two years and ask him to jump with momentum (taking steps) and he can jump 45”. This amazing gain and discrepancy can be partly attributable to his long, lean frame that boosts long tendons making him the perfect specimen to store and release energy.

He will continue to improve these qualities because his tendon strength and his neuromuscular system will develop based on continued exposure to high powered movements and he’s also getting lots of help from the Clinique Neuro Outaouais. One word of caution, he will continue to improve provided that he monitors his game and practice exposure otherwise the rate of loading will exceed his ability to recovery which means an injury – particularly Jumper’s Knee. We’ve seen this happen too many times.


5.      Movements have become automated and are well coordinated

Many athletes can dunk, but that doesn’t mean they’re ballers. The ability to produce well timed, well-coordinated movements that are specific to the game of basketball based on smart decisions separates an athlete from an “Explosive Baller”. As discussed earlier, Andrew has an incredible repertoire of explosive jumps that are well controlled, more importantly he can execute these attributes in a game. What this means is, his brain is able to process enormous amounts of information from his eyes, his joints, his ears (yes his ears because key balance organs are housed in our ears) amongst other sensory inputs and compare all this sensory information to his database of basketball movements and patterns. This enables him to make a decision and execute an appropriate movement strategy that is well coordinated, and all within a fraction of a second.

Understanding each of these attributes may hold secrets for enhancing your performance! Andrew’s athleticism makes him incredibly special. His ability to separate, get to the hoop, finish and draw attention from around the world is unmatched in our country’s history. We’ve explored 5 major athletic attributes that make Andrew Wiggins special in this post. However, what may be unrealized is many of his athletic attributes can be developed through a long term athletic development approach. His athletic qualities can be developed, but it takes time and a well-structured approach – it’s not going to happen overnight.



Thomas Lam

Written by Thomas Lam

Dr. Thomas Lam is the President and Director of Athletic Performance at FITS a company dedicated to help Canadian athletes through innovation, passion and execution. He is a chiropractor, athletic development specialist and sport scientist. Working within the basketball community Dr. Lam has been able to work with the countries best basketball talents than span levels from the NBA, National Teams, Provincial Teams all the way down to grass root athletes. His focus is building better athletes by understanding the key determinants of performance and the mechanisms of injury. Some of his basketball initiatives that he has developed include: FLIGHT School, The Jumpers Knee Project, ACL Injury prevention guidelines and strategies, and his most noteworthy contribution is the Movement Development System.

Website: http://www.fitstoronto.com

2 thoughts on “What Takes Andrew Wiggins Up Another Level? What Makes Him Elite?

  1. Jackson says:

    Great piece!

    It’s these types of articles that will separate will your site from others. A lot of the time I find myself reading, rushed, and sometimes poorly written “cookie cutter” articles on your site. In most cases, I don’t learn much other than finding out how many points a player scored, where a player is playing or where he is committed too, or who won the game. Granted, all that information is important; but as a whole, Northpolehoops.com lacks the insightful, innovative articles, such as the ones at Grantland, SI.com or Zagsblog, that keeps me from returning to Northpolehoops. However, I do appreciate your hard work (it’s amazing how many events Northpole attends and how your passion for the game shines through) because there has never been a more in-depth site in Canadian hoops history. But at the same time, it could be so much more. I’m not sure if you guys are spreading yourself too thin by covering way too many levels of Canadian basketball rather than just focusing on one or two levels but providing more provocative pieces.

    These are just my thoughts so you can take them however you want to. But keep up your unparalleled passion for the game.

  2. Tariq Sbiet Tariq Sbiet says:

    Thank you for your feedback, it is much appreciated. We will certainly keep this in mind and strive to be better.

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