Davide Panzeri loves sports and was a tennis player at national level in his youth. He was able to direct this winning mentality toward the world of business but, as his company grew, Panzeri found himself suffering from burnout and severe depression.

Discovering trick shots completely by chance, he’s now well on the road to recovery, and has captured the public’s attention through his regular television appearances and more than one million TikTok followers. The artist best known as Trickshotdav explains about the health benefits of trick shots, and how he became so immersed in this popular pastime.

As the co-founder of Acadium (a marketing apprenticeship network) the Milan born, Ottawa raised entrepreneur found that his position as head of growth to be a double-edged sword. The company grew from strength to strength, but this would eventually lead to stress and an eventual breakdown, leading Panzeri to take prescribed antidepressants from his early 20s.

Rock Bottom

Panzeri suffered serious reactions from the rotation of medications that he was under, and found working out to be near impossible due to a lack of motivation and a rapid heart rate. “All of a sudden, these medications stopped working as they once did,” says Panzeri. “I started getting really strange thoughts, I felt more anxious and just not myself.” He headed back to Italy to live with his parents and get away from it all expecting to return to work within a few weeks, but the bad reactions continued. “I was prescribed six to seven antidepressants in six to eight months, and each time I felt worse, and my body was going through withdrawals each time I made a switch,” he says.

He suffered with akathisia (a restlessness movement disorder), causing body spasms, and lost a lot of bodyweight. Rushed to the hospital, Panzeri was convinced that medication was only making him worse. “They were telling me to do yoga and meditate but I couldn’t do any of it because whatever I was experiencing was a drug induced reaction,” he says. Thankfully, after much trial and error, Panzeri was finally given a drug that he didn’t react negatively to, and was able to return to his parents’ home once again.

Starting from Scratch with an Open Mind

Still unable to fully work out or concentrate on business, Panzeri discovered that the basketball court beside his parents’ house would offer the perfect distraction while he slowly came off the antidepressants, under medical supervision. “I tried to get the ball in the basket, facing backwards, from the three-point line,” says Panzeri. “Then from the halfway line, then blindfolded, and then I added a bounce … and so on, until I realized this could become something!”

With something positive to focus on, Panzeri used all the skills he’d learned from growing a business, to increase the audience on his new TikTok account. “I was able to do this while my health was still fragile”, says Panzeri. “Many days, I can’t function or I have bad anxiety, so it just made me realize that even at 50% of capacity, we can still do great things”.

As @trickshotdav, Panzeri has learned that quality is key, spending hours perfecting each shot, and taking the time to edit the videos with care. In the early days, his trick shots could take anywhere from 100 to 200 attempts before success, but this just made hitting them all the more entertaining for his followers. As with any new discipline, Panzeri studies his craft, and soon found himself nailing trick shots that no one else had ever posted, like throwing two balls into the basket from the halfway mark. These days, no trick shot is off limits.

Hard Work Makes Its Own Luck

“The media response has been great”, says the groundbreaking trick shotter. “I have been featured on SportsCenter in Canada, I went on TV in Italy, Japan, and many other places.” Happily, he was asked to create tasks for the Big Brother reality show in Canada, and is now working with Red Bull after winning a trick-shot competition. “Red Bull was asking for the best half-court shot to be featured. Most people were submitting shots with one ball,” says Panzeri. “So, I submitted my double-ball tricks. They loved it. They told me about this court they built in Rome for the community and that they would love for me to inaugurate it with trick shots.” The video will be out soon.

Those who dismiss trick shots on the basis that anyone can hit one with enough tries, fail to consider that these multiple attempts make for great outdoor exercise, and have some extremely beneficial results. “Firstly, I am doing tricks now that were unimaginable four to five months ago,” says Panzeri. “My coordination improved, my athleticism, my mindset. Proof of this is that I can now do much harder tricks, often in the same or less time. I just believe I can do it now, because many attempts are so close when I try stuff that feels ‘impossible.’ So, yes, you need luck to get the shot, but luck is a result of being close and having the right technique. Hard work and improving your skillset, and your mindset, reduces the need for luck and this is true for anything you may attempt in life.”

Thanks to the thousands of hours spent on the basketball court putting in the reps, Davide Panzeri is now in great shape, and he’s spent so much time calibrating his aim that his followers say he’s developed an eye for making the shots. They’ve even labeled this skill, calling it his “Aim Bot.”

Failing is Not Failure For David Panzeri

Just as Panzeri has learned to pick himself up from the rock-bottom depths of depression, he’s also learned through trick shots that failing only equals failure if you stop trying. He has honed his trick shot ability through a number of training methods, including juggling basketballs with his hands and feet. “That improves my overall accuracy and reflexes”, he says. “My most viral video has 36.9 million views, and I don’t even make the basket! [He eventually hits it in a subsequent post.] So, I tell a story of not giving up regardless of how hard things are, and the conditions we are fighting.”

Becoming Accountable

As his mental clarity has improved through trick shots, Panzeri has made sure that he is becoming stronger in mind and body. He is eating cleaner, having gone gluten free, and supplements his diet with protein shakes and BCAAs. He’s aware that nutrition plays a key part in mental and physical ability, and loves to get his healthy fats from natural sources such as avocado. And, whilst critics may dismiss trick shots as something trivial, Panzeri says that this trending movement has the potential to do good, and hopes to continue his work with brands like Red Bull to build or fix up community basketball courts and playing areas. Now that’s something that M&F can applaud!