Spotlight: Antoine Davis – The Secret Behind the FlameThrowers’ Athleticism
It seems like no one can praise Antoine Davis highly enough this season. From Ultiworld editors to his opponents to his teammates and captains, his incredible athletic ability and spirit have earned him accolades throughout the AUDL (and as a member of Revolver as well). Anyone who didn’t know his name learned it quickly when he was featured on SportsCenter Top 10 this year ahead of LeBron James thanks to a monstrous block against the Vancouver Riptide. So where did Davis come from, and what makes him such a powerful force as both an individual athlete and a team player?
Davis spent his college years playing with Virginia Tech Burn and began his club career with Ambiguous Grey in 2014. He competed with them until 2016, when he moved to San Francisco and became a breakout star in the Bay Area ultimate scene. A singularly motivated individual, he has a checklist of life goals with corresponding time estimates ranging from “universe line on Revolver at natties – 2019” to “USA Top 7 – 2021” as well as “5 national titles – ASAP.” They also include non-ultimate goals, such as increasing his number of online and physical therapy clients.
Oh yeah, did we mention? If his monstrous physique didn’t give it away, Antoine is otherworldly intelligent in the gym. So much so that he has made it his career and is now running a successful coaching business called AD Sports Performance.
Spoiler alert: Antoine’s programs work, and they work well. He is certainly the best example of his own training knowledge, so here’s what people have said about him so far this season.
Los Angeles Aviator Brian Nguyen after a loss to San Francisco: “I think the main story of our game was Antoine Davis. It felt like he was open all the time and caught anything that was thrown to him.”
FlameThrowers Head Coach Ryo Kawaoka: He has “infectious positivity” and makes “psychologically game-changing D’s.”
AUDL Tuesday Toss after the Cascades Cup: Davis was “unquestionably” the MVP of the game and he put on a “brilliant and balanced” performance.
FlameThrowers Captain Lucas Dallmann: “I’m very impressed with Antoine’s level of commitment off the field. He often times makes some sky balls look routine, but knowing how hard he’s working during the week is what really impresses me.”
Ultiworld Contributor Nathan Jesson: “Consider adding him to your favorite players list… [he is] a happy warrior” comparable to Dikembe Mutombo during his glory days in the NBA – except better, because he “excels” at offense while Mutombo admittedly did not. He uses his “lighthearted brute force” to singlehandedly end games during Hail Mary attempts, and has been making “some of the biggest plays in the game” since the season began. Jesson loves to mention the fact that Davis is constantly smiling while doing this. What’s not to like?
Perhaps the highest praise comes from fellow FlameThrower Cassidy Rasmussen, whom many believe is a contender for league MVP this year alongside Davis. Rasmussen draws similarities between Davis and Beau Kittredge, the reigning king of ultimate and Rasmussen’s teammate for many years. “I think Antoine has much more polished disc skills at his age than Beau had, and if he can develop the same decision making that makes Beau so valuable he will be incredibly hard to stop. The craziest thing for me is watching Antoine play is like watching Beau play, if [Beau] was always going 100%. Beau is an incredibly smart player, and he’s played for so long that he really has started to pick and choose his spots. Antoine is so young and has all the energy in the world. When he turns to go deep, he is going as hard as he can and it’s pretty impressive to watch.”
Beau was recently written up in Outside Magazine for how hard he trains, and was compared to Michael Jordan, an Olympic athlete, an NFL wide receiver, and more. But the article says his days as the best player in the game are numbered, and Antoine is certainly speeding up the clock. Will he ever be a first-name-only star the way Beau is? It’s possible. But for now, he’s focusing on bring his teams up to his level of athleticism.
When Davis signed with the FlameThrowers this season, he came with a huge bonus – he offered to train the team as a whole and also design individualized ultimate-related workouts for his teammates based on their goals and needs. He already trained by himself rigorously throughout the offseason and on weekdays, and he knew that the FlameThrowers could also benefit from this level of commitment in the gym as well as on the field. The team agreed, and now he can be spotted doing everything from advising his teammates about specific exercises to leading focused warmups before every game.
Davis says “ever since I started to take training seriously, I have seen improvements in multiple areas of my game. I increased my speed and vertical abilities dramatically and I am able to complete a full ultimate season (February to October) with little to no injuries. My agility has also increased so I can shut down my opponent when they try to get away from me.” He wanted to bring his training principles to a larger audience and help his fellow teammates improve these same aspects of their game.
This training has made a huge difference for the team, and it shows in the way they patrol the skies and play shut-down man defense seemingly easily. Davis has 21 blocks so far this season, roughly one for every six point he plays (an incredible proportion). The team as a whole has tallied a whopping 156 blocks this year, which is twenty more than their rivals the San Jose Spiders and fifty more than the Seattle Cascades who were previously considered one of the best teams in the West. Heading into their last game of the regular season, the FlameThrowers have the highest point differential in the Western Conference at +34 – which is remarkable given how close the teams all seem to be week after week.
The FlameThrowers put on some of their most dominant performances late in the AUDL season as chemistry between the players and the overall athleticism of the team rose sharply. But Davis’s influence isn’t limited to just the AUDL. Revolver has been benefitting from these same workout plans and everyone is beginning to notice. “Revolver’s defense ruled the weekend” was Ultiworld’s biggest takeaway from the Pro-Elite Challenge, where the team went undefeated.
FlameThrowers Captain and Revolver athlete Greg Cohen admires Davis for his “continued dedication to detailed explanations and plans” when designing workouts for the team. Cohen says Davis is to thank for his “increased endurance, leaping ability (not only height but length), sprinting speed, and flexibility.”
Marcelo Sanchez, another standout athlete on both the FlameThrowers and Revolver, says that Davis asked him what his specific goals were at the beginning of the season and then took them and multiple other factors into account when designing weekly workouts for him. In Davis’s email updates, he provides “thorough information” to ensure that everyone follows their lifting plans appropriately without injuring or overworking themselves. Thanks to this constant checking in, Sanchez says he hasn’t gotten injured, he has been able to work through and improve an old back injury that used to bother him, and he feels more explosive now than ever before.
Davis echoes their sentiments, saying “I’ve seen an increase in the team’s explosiveness this year and a decrease in injuries. I practiced with most of them last year before I became their Sports Performance Coach and I saw many of them on the sidelines because of injuries. During games, they did not have the quick step they have now!”
You can learn more about Davis’s training philosophy on his website ADSportsPerformance.com, or watch him lift on his Instagram @AD_SportsCoach. But your best option is to come out to Laney College this Saturday night and watch him dominate on the field for the last time during the regular season! Tickets are still available here.
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