Take a good look at my new torture devices.
Hello. My name is Basketbawful, and I can't jump.
No, seriously. I couldn't jump over pebble. (I mean, like, a really
tiny one.) I couldn't hop over a nickle. (Even if I was strapped to a rocket, Wile E. Coyote-style
.) I couldn't vault two sheets of paper. (I could make it over one sheet...maybe.) My vertical leap isn't measured in seconds, it's measured in Planck time
. I am bound to the ground. I have been diagnosed with a terminal case of White Man's Disease.
The question is: What am I going to do about it? Or, perhaps more accurately, can
I do anything about it? Well, it's time to find out.
About a year ago, I wrote a post about plyometric jumpsoles
. After several seconds of rigorous speculation that included less empirical research than I typically use to select a paper clip, I boldly concluded that the jumpsoles were a useless waste of money. Basically, I felt as though they were about as likely to bring your great grandmother back from the dead as they were to help you jump higher. In response to that post, a reader named Chris
issued the following polite (but serious) challenge: "I think Basketbawful should give them a shot if he wants to offer more valuable criticism." He even offered to let me borrow his relatively unused pair of Strength Shoes
Brave explorer of the unknown that I am, I immediately accepted the challenge, meeting up with Chris in downtown Chicago to pick up the Strength Shoes and an instructional video. I then did absolutely nothing with them. There were reasons, of course. Mostly a series of ticky-tac injuries to my feet, ankles and back, all of which happened while playing pickup ball. But I'm completely healthy right now, so there's no reason not to finally give this thing a go.
In that spirit, I sat down last night last night and watched the instructional video. The first 10 minutes or so -- and I'm not kidding about this -- featured a series of increasingly dire warnings about trying to use the Strength Shoes without following the workout plan outlined in the video. By the time I got through them, I felt like my family was being held hostage and would be released only after I successfully completed the prescribed program. I'm not saying that's actually the case, but I'd still like to take this opportunity to say: Mom, if they're letting you read this, I love you.
The video then introduces us to David Houza, who has the comforting title of "President." David explains the basic concept of the Strength Shoes: They make the calves support 100 percent of the body's weight, forcing both the calves and Achilles tendons to endure a force equal to six times the body's weight upon impact. Amazingly, this will not cause your calves to explode. Rather, it (allegedly) makes the calf muscles and Achilles tendon stretch and strengthen, which "makes any athlete more explosive." (Okay then, maybe they will
make your calves explode...)
But wait, there's more! The Strength Shoe workouts can also "increase your anaerobic capacity and your anaerobic power by 500 percent." I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I'm just going to assume that, once I complete the Strength Shoe training program, I will never have to breath human air again.
David doesn't want you to think for one second that you're just jumping around aimlessly on a pair of gimmick clod hoppers. He uses encouraging words (like "biomechanical" and "dynamic resistance") and assures us that the Strength Shoe workout was developed by Steve Watterson, Strength and Conditioning coach for the Tennessee Titans, and some other dude named Mackie Shilstone, who "works with over 650 elite athletes from all professional sports." There's no actual proof of these claims, but hey, David's a "President" and I'm just a regular non-President. I'll take his word for it.
Their are three phases of Strength Shoe workouts: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Obviously, I (probably wisely) chose to start at the Beginner level. Each workout starts with a series of basic stretches that anybody who does anything even remotely athletic should already be doing (but you probably aren't, are you?).
I won't bother to go through each of the individual exercises, but I will tell you that only one of them had anything to do with jumping. The other exercises are intended to promote speed and agility, and one of them even requires you to kick your own butt. (No, seriously.) Unfortunately, the workout also required me to sprint, which meant I had to take the jump shoes outside and run past kids playing and people walking their dogs. So, you know, I got to feel like a damn fool. But at least I'm a fool on his way to explosive athleticism.
So I'm one day into the Beginner level program, which lasts four weeks (assuming I do the workout three days per week, with 24 hours of recovery between each workout). My lower back is a little sore and my calves are pretty stiff. I cannot, as far as I can tell, jump any higher today than I could yesterday. But that's to be expected. I doubt I'll be dunking before, say, the third or fourth workout.
Weekly updates to come.
Labels: pickup basketball, plyometrics, White Man Jump Challenge