For a lot of basketball players (me included), being able to dunk is something we have always dreamed of. We have watched hours of mix tapes, endless NBA Top 10 playlists and admired the taller guys in the neighborhood throwing it down.
Even though a lot of basketball player would love to dunk, only a few commit to the hard work it takes. There are plenty excuses: maybe it's because you are too small, too weak, too white, you name it.
Five months ago, I set all those excuses aside and defined the following goal for myself
I am going to dunk before I turn 30!
Once I had decided I was going to dunk, there was no stopping me and 8 weeks of Vert Shock training got the job done!
Guess what. Time flies when you are having fun, because I am turning 30 this week and the good news is:
I can still dunk easily!
Today, I want to take the opportunity and tell you about the things I have learned after being able to dunk for almost four months now.
1. Dunking is soo much fun!
I don't know why, but throwing a leather ball through an iron hoop at 10 feet height is just unbelievable fun.
There is something primal about it. In a game that is all about finesse-plays like jump shots, three-pointers and finger roll layups, to be able to jump and hammer the ball through the net as hard as you can is just powerful.
The adrenaline flowing through your body when you throw down your first dunk is unreal. There is a reason Russell Westbrook likes to scream and pound his chest like a madman after his most powerful dunks.
If you can't dunk on a regular hoop right now, you may know the feeling from dunking on smaller hoops, using a trampoline, etc. It is undeniable: Dunking is fun!
2. Dunking gets you noticed!
Whether you want to play on a court where nobody knows you, you are trying out for a new team or you just play HORSE with your friends in the driveway, one thing is for sure:
Being able to dunk will draw the attention of others!
If you are 6ft tall and don't look particularly athletic (like me), dunking gives you a huge element of surprise that catches most people off-guard. I can't count the times I have been asked how tall I am or how I worked on my vertical jump. All of the sudden I am the leading expert on vertical jump training.
Also, when people see you play basketball for the first time and you can dunk, everybody automatically assumes you are a good basketball player (until you prove otherwise).
It is strange, but making 10 shots in a row will not have nearly the same effect on people as one powerful, rim-rattling dunk!
3. In-game dunking is HARD (but very rewarding)
I have made my first in-game dunk ever!
How did it happen? We were blowing out the opponent by almost 40 points, so the coach for the other team decided to empty his bench and get some of the young guys playing time.
One of those benchwarmers was nervously dribbling on the right wing and had to pick up the ball because he was under pressure from his defender. I knew right away he would try to pass back to the point guard on the top of the 3-point line.
Just as he tried to pass the ball, I jumped the passing lane, tipped the ball towards the opposing basket and was on my way chasing the ball. I had a good head start - the defender was trailing me by about 5 meters, so knew I had enough time and space to go for it.
The added adrenaline of the situation made me jump higher than ever, I pulled back the basketball and threw it down as hard as I could.
Of course nobody took pictures 🙁
It was soooo awesome! The guys on the bench erupted in cheers, the opponents were shocked, even the guys at the scoring table couldn't refrain from grinning.
That moment alone was worth the hard work I had put into improving my vertical jump.
But, that was, of course, the perfect situation for an in-game dunk as I had all the time in the world because no defender was around.
During set plays, when the defense is in position, it is incredibly hard to get an open lane for a dunk. Right now, I don't have enough cushion on my jump height to absorb any bumps or even jump over defenders to dunk in their faces.
That is one reason why I want to do the Vert Shock training again next spring or summer to further increase my vertical jump and to make my dunks even easier and more explosive!
4. Rebounding can be sexy (at times)!
I know, that one is hard to swallow. Very few basketball players enjoy battling for rebounds. And, until this season, I didn’t like it either.
But, it actually is fun to crash the offensive boards and outjump a 7ft giant to grab the ball right out of his hands. The look on his face and the grief he gets from his teammates are just awesome.
Something else is fun as well - winning jump-balls against guys six inches taller than you.
You didn't have to tell Dennis Rodman
5. My first step and my defense are much improved!
I did all the work this summer to become a dunker, not a lockdown defender. But, much-improved defense has been a nice side-effect of the vertical jump training.
Jumping high is basically the ability to accelerate your body very fast vertically. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that improved vertical acceleration also leads to improved horizontal acceleration.
On the court, this shows in a much quicker first step and much faster defensive slides. I get by defenders much easier, and I can now defend guys who used to break my ankles.
Not the reason I trained for 8 weeks, but very nice indeed! 🙂