For women's basketball, to dunk or not to dunk has long been the question. It’s the ‘wow factor’ that WNBA haters often point to as proof that the women's game doesn't deserve the fandom, fame and fortune that the guys get. Cristen and Caroline talk to two dunking superstars of past and present to sort through the courtside gender politics and controversy of stuffing the net and find out whether more women bringing the slams could settle the score.
Other investigators and participants in the trial are as follows: R. Kitzberger, U. Holzinger, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna; A. Roman, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire St. Pierre; D. De Bels, Brugmann University Hospital; S. Anane, Europe Hospitals St. Elisabeth, and S. Brimioulle, M. Van Nuffelen, Erasme University Hospital — all in Brussels; M. VanCutsem, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Charleroi, Charleroi, Belgium; J. Rico, J.I. Gomez Herreras, Rio Hortega University Hospital, Valladolid, Spain; H. Njimi (trial statistician), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels; and C. Mélot (independent statistician and physician responsible for conducting sequential analysis and evaluation of serious adverse effects), Erasme University Hospital, Brussels.
“There’s something about dunking a basketball that lures us in,” he said, reflecting on his first jam, during lunch period his sophomore year at De La Salle High in Concord, Calif., back when his driver’s license read 5' 11", 112 pounds. “It stokes the imagination. It’s something you always dream of doing. I have a friend whose father, at age 50, is trying to dunk.”
Barry, who retired from the NBA in 2009, recalled that a few days before our sit-down he “drove out to the Clippers’ practice facility, wearing sneakers and board shorts, just to get my basketball fix in. Between games I pick up a ball and start shooting. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, You’re 42, man; can you still? So I get a rebound, do a little power dribble in the paint and, sure enough, throw it down. I put the ball down and walked out. I can still do that. That’s good.”
Perform jump and reach exercises for a simple vertical jump workout. Start in a standing position with your arms above your head, your feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees and hips forward. Bring your arms down and back, while simultaneously lowering your hips and bending your knees. Then, swing your arms forward and jump as high as you can.
Dunking a basketball is a lot of fun, and for most of us that is really the only reason to do it. Especially when you are a shorter player, it is cool to see the looks on the big guys’ faces when you do something you really ought not to be able to do. But let’s be realistic here: If you want to be a good basketball player there are many, many skills that are more important to spend time on. For most of us, the ability to dunk is an insignificant part of our game.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, bend at your knees and hips as if you are attempting to sit in a chair until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Simultaneously extend your arms straight out in front of you. From this position jump up, straighten your legs and swing your arms back down to the side of your body. Repeat 25 jumping squats in a row for three sets with a 1-minute break between sets.
Like Todd and me, Nicholson was a two-foot jumper, and he echoed what Todd had told me was another flaw in my technique: “Your next-to-last step has to be a lot bigger. That big leap forward with your right foot—your penultimate step—that’s what allows you to explode off the ground.” To demonstrate, Nicholson sent me a video of Carter’s performance at the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest, which was a bit like showing a Monet to a finger painting kindergartner and saying, “No, like this.”
One morning a week later, the gym at the Y was empty. I picked up the same mini-ball and unsuccessfully tried to throw it down. I found the more relad I was, the higher I could jump. So I loosened my shoulders, took a depth breath, and approached the rim. I held the ball for a beat longer this time, and easily popped it over the rim. It felt incredible. I did it a few more times, each easier than the last, pulling down on the rim with unnecessary force for maximum satisfaction. But as exhilarating as it was to dunk again, I was only using a mini-ball—I hadn’t completely reached my goal.
The vertical jump is defined as the highest point that the athlete can touch from a standing jump, less the height that the athlete can touch from a standing position. The measurement of the jump is flawed if the athlete is permitted to take one or more steps before jumping, as the athlete will convert some of the energy developed in the step taken into the force of propulsion that generates upward lift. Basketball has numerous legends and other urban myths concerning the seemingly superhuman leaping ability attributed to certain players; one such player, former University of Louisville star Darrell "Dr. Dunkenstein" Griffith, was reputed to possess a 42 in (1 m) vertical leap. It is likely that the average National Basketball Association player 6 ft 6 in (1.97 m) or shorter has a vertical leap of between 25 and 30 in (0.63 and 0.75 m); taller and heavier players will usually not be able to jump as high.
Joe would die some 30 years later, at age 82, but what he said that day as he stood in a puddle of dry tobacco—his clothes disheveled, the other Fortenberrys yelping a chorus of excited Yessirs—spoke to me in a way that can only be understood by those who blindly take on missions that exact a greater toll than was envisioned. “Well,” he said with a grin, “that’s the last time I’ll ever do that.”
Similar to building explosive power by jumping over a stationary object, hurdles allow you to practice your leap. Space eight flights of hurdles two feet from each other and aim to jump over each like a pogo stick—basically, as high as you can. Repeat this for 10 repetitions: one flight of eight hurdles equals one repetition. Do this twice per week.
To begin, go up without a ball first. This will give you a great idea of where you’re at and just how close you are to being able to dunk. For beginners, you should focus on dunking with one hand. Your other hand should stay by your side to balance your body while you’re in the air. The two-handed dunk is awesome, but is surprisingly more of an advance dunk and should be an approach you build up to as you work on your dunking.
Dunking became a game again. After my closest misses I’d hop around and swear like a golfer whose playoff putt had lipped out. These outbursts were no longer harsh self-admonitions but celebrations of my progress, acknowledgements that I was getting tantalizingly close. I could feel my legs gaining in bounciness. I could feel my hips, quads and calves learning to fire simultaneously. My original lobber returned to the scene and suggested I try dunking in the morning instead of the evening, when the batteries in our old bodies are as low as the ones in our phones. I added this sage advice to the long list of microdetails “that help you steal inches,” as Todd had phrased it months earlier. “A quarter inch here, a half inch there.”
Starting out, athletes should always err on the conservative side and only perform 10-20 maximal effort jumps in a training session. Because of the explosive nature of a vertical jump, the body can only perform a handful before performance starts to drop. Training beyond this point will not improve jumping height and will only lead to injury. At the completion of a training session, it is generally recommended to rest 48 hours before completing another intense training session.
From the Department of Intensive Care, Erasme University Hospital (D.D.B., A.B., J.-L.V.); the Department of Intensive Care, Brugmann University Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles (J.D., P.G.); and the Department of Intensive Care, Centre Hospitalier Etterbeek Ixelles (D.C.) — all in Brussels; the Department of Intensive Care, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Charleroi, Charleroi, Belgium (P.B., P.D.); the Department of Medicine III, Intensive Care Unit 13H1, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna (C.M.); and the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Rio Hortega University Hospital, Valladolid, Spain (C.A.).
To build strength in the legs that will be compatible with the speed developed through successful plyometrics drills, squat and lunge exercises are important components. Squats are performed with free weights, where the athlete uses a weighted bar to carry out the exercise. The additional weight will be supported by the body through the abdominal, lumbar (low back), and gluteal muscles, in addition to the legs. This form of exercise permits the strengthening of the legs in conjunction with enhancing the core strength of the body, essential to the balance necessary to have the several muscle groups involved in leaping work in harmony.