|Photo: Kiera Dubach|
Growing up, I always looked forward to the NBA All-Star Game weekend simply for the slam dunk contest. The classic showdowns between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins were legendary. But as a kid, you can't help but get caught up in the magic of watching a little 5'7" man fly through the air. I'm talking about Spud Webb. As a kid, watching someone not much taller than you throw down with the big boys, how can you not be inspired by that? How can you not think, hey, maybe I can do that?
At the end of the street I grew up on there was a shared adjustable basketball hoop that I spent hours upon hours at having dunk contests with my friends; recreating the dunks of Dr. J, Wilkins, Jordan, Barkley, Webb and of course Chocolate Thunder himself: Darryl Dawkins. As I grew taller the hoop got higher and higher. When I got to junior high I ran track, but only focused on the jumping events: long jump, triple jump and high jump. By the time I got to high school I left track for volleyball because it looked like more fun and I wanted to fly. If I could have any super power it would be the gift of flight. And actually, I always wanted to be a setter but somehow ended up as a middle hitter. By my junior year I was dunking volleyballs. Nothing fancy. Just a regular one handed dunk. But, in my mind I was flying; if only for a few seconds.
So, how did I achieve this goal? Granted, I think I have a natural ability to jump that others may not have. But that's not to say that anyone else couldn't add inches to their vertical jump if they really tried and trained for it. My vertical jump is nothing for the record books. I'm sure there are 300 lb linemen with a higher vert than mine. But a combination of natural ability and persistence helped to build on what I already had to attain my goal. In high school I read up on ways to increase my vertical jump by weight lifting and plyometrics, but really, the best way to increase your vertical jump is to just keep jumping; over and over and over again. The same can be said for any task or sport. How do you get better at it? By doing it. It may have taken me 10 years (and puberty) to reach my goal, but I did reach it.
Here are a few videos of people who can really defy gravity and fly. Enjoy.