Friday, July 30, 2010

The Culmination of the Quest

Its over, I did it. I finally dunked a basketball. Last Friday I dunked on one of the outdoor hoops at Redwood High School in Larkspur with my friend and colleague Robert Schleihauf as my witness.

Throughout the process I assumed that I would feel amazing when I finally dunked a basketball, but in reality I was a little bit disappointed. I had been training intelligently and constantly researching different training methodologies for 36 weeks. I thought I might feel a sense of enlightenment followed by an onslaught of training-related epiphanies. Don’t get me wrong, it felt great to finally achieve a goal that I set for myself 6 months ago, but I had so much fun throughout the process that I was reluctant to let the quest end (this was also made evident by the fact that it took me a week to piece together my final blog post).

It reminded me of something that I heard Brett Favre say in a short television documentary of the Green Bay Packers 1996 season in which they won the Super Bowl. After they had won Brett said to himself, “this is it?” Although Brett was overjoyed to win the Super Bowl, he was more disappointed that the season in which he and his teammates performed incredibly well and became very close as a team was over. He realized that the journey was far more important that the end result.

I feel entirely empathetic (accept for the whole winning the Super Bowl thing obviously) towards Brett. I am happy to have finally achieved my goal, but I am a little bit upset that the journey is over, because I enjoyed it so much. Now I just want to continue to perfect my craft as a dunker and work towards bigger and better dunks.

As a side note, I also learned quite a bit about goal setting throughout my quest. Although telling everyone that I wanted to dunk a basketball in 12 weeks through this blog held me accountable it also set me up for an onslaught of criticism. In Dave Tate’s “9 Secrets to Training Success” he writes, “Set your goals high and keep them to yourself. The reason for this is simple: 90% of everyone you meet are negative pricks who will go out of their way to tell you why you can't do something.” I don’t agree with his 90% dictum, but I would absolutely agree with the general premise of Dave Tate’s argument. Over the course of the last 36 weeks numerous friends, clients, and acquaintances told me that I couldn’t do it or that the timetable was too short. Dunking in 12 weeks was obviously an extremely ambitious goal considering that I couldn’t even touch the rim at the beginning, but if I had kept my true goal to myself (per Tate’s recommendation) and simply told everyone that I wanted to jump higher, everyone would be very congratulatory now that I can dunk. At this point I feel almost as if many of the followers of the quest became a bit bored simply because it took so long and I don’t blame them.

What next? The answer is simple: more of the same. Although the quest to dunk is over I am not going to stop striving to increase my vertical leap any time soon. I am going to keep training in a very similar manner and writing performance related articles/posts. This will be my last post on, but it looks like I will be writing a weekly blog post for the CrossFit Marin blog:

This is blogmaster Ben signing off. I am going to leave you all with some amusing quotes about dunking that I just found on

"I'm not a big sports fan, but I love it when they "slam dunk." That's sexy."
Emma Bunton

"I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."
Charles Barkley

"If I weren't earning $3 million a year to dunk a basketball, most people on the street would run in the other direction if they saw me coming."
Charles Barkley

"It's like all guys want to do is make a dunk, grab their shirt and yell out and scream - they could be down 30 points but that's what they do. Okay, so you made a dunk. Get back down the floor on defense!"
Oscar Robertson

"My first dunk was actually in sixth grade."
Vince Carter

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week 36 Day 5


1. 20 Dunk Attempts

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Technology: Helping Athletes Regress One at a Time

If you have glanced at any of my weekly workouts you will quickly learn that I am not an endurance athlete. Despite the fact that I rarely partake in any continuous athletic endeavor lasting longer than 30 seconds, I have learned quite a bit from some of the best endurance athletes in the world. Here is a picture of a barefoot runner:

Notice that this runner has exquisite running technique (some might call it POSE) and this runner is not so coincidentally barefoot. At this point I have read so many articles that reference the various studies on the numerous benefits of barefoot running (i.e., no heal strike, reduced occurrence of running-related injuries, etc.) that at this point I find them almost as tedious as long runs themselves. If you are interested in learning more about the host of advantages associated with barefoot running check out this website run (pun intended) by the Harvard Skeletal Biology Lab:

All of the assertions in these various studies regarding barefoot running made sense to me right off the bat. Neolithic people started having knee problems because shoe companies began marketing padded running shoes that allow people to get away with heal striking relatively unscathed. Modern people should learn how to run properly instead of purchasing shoes with a massive shock-absorbing heel in order to mitigate the occurrence of “overuse” injuries that have become all too common in the long distance running world.
Now people are slowly assimilating (following the various Harvard studies produced recently the barefoot running revolution. There is even a shoe made to make you feel like you are barefoot ( Why one needs a special shoe to mimic the effects of being barefoot is a concept that I will never understand--but the shoe sells (thanks to the ever increasing popularity of CrossFit and primal fitness), so more power to the Vibram people.

I never thought that these theories regarding barefoot running would be applicable to jumping, basically because I thought that there was too much impact involved in a max vertical leap. It turns out that my initial hypothesis was wrong. Thanks to Joe DeFranco’s article ( which I posted a while back) in which he suggests that an athlete wear snug track waffle shoes when testing his or her vertical. His theory is that normal basketball/ running shoes absorb a great deal of the force that one produces against the ground in order to jump as high as possible. When attempting a max vertical leap the goal is to produce as much force against the ground as possible, consequently wearing shoes that absorb the force that one produces is counterintuitive. This made sense to me, I tried it out during a max box jump workout two weeks ago and I added 3 inches to my previous PR. Lately I have been wearing some tight-fitting, low top Chuck Ts (pretty close to being barefoot) when I jump on outdoor basketball courts. I should probably just sack up and jump without shoes on.

More Vertical Jump Tips From Joe DeFranco

This article lists Joe D's 15 favorite vertical jump exercises and explains how they benefit his athletes.

Week 36 Day 4

Active Rest Day

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week 36 Day 3

Active Rest Day

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Want to Become Batman?

For anyone interested in actually becoming batman here is a cool book ( by Dr. E. Paul Zehr, a kinesiology professor at the University of Victoria.