Sneakerhead

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, so I figured that I should break back into this blogging game and write about something I love as a hobby.  Basketball, and more importantly the shoes that go with them.  Call me a “sneakerhead”, that’s fine.  I appreciate sneakers, whether it’s shoe I wear casually, or more importantly, something I use on the court for the best performance possible.

Some have asked me, “Why do you spend so much on shoes for basketball?”.  My feet are the most important asset for basketball, so why not spend research time and money to make sure I get the best products available.  I don’t expect them to make me be like Mike, break ankles like Kobe, or dunk like Lebron.  I expect them to give me the best possible support, cushion, and performance money can buy.  I’m going to break into some thoughts on performance basketball shoes I’ve purchased and why.

Recently, Jordan Brand came out with some great innovation in terms of athletic science and support with the Air Jordan XX8 with the shoe itself focusing on energy efficiency.

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I am a custom orthotic user, and they fit perfectly inside the AJXX8, almost as if the shoes were designed to support them specifically if needed.  Some might call these ugly or non-conventional, but playing in these first hand, I can tell you that these are a great performance basketball shoe.

Kustoo.com got together with the Jordan Brand’s designer Josh Heard to go over the shoe itself, and what they were trying to accomplish other than making money off of us as consumers.  It’s a great read overall.

A detailed look at the Air Jordan XX8 with designer Josh Heard

Another great shoe I’ve been playing in with great success is the Kobe 8.  I haven’t played in the Kobe since I acquired custom orthotics with the Kobe 6.  The 6 unfortunately did not work well with my custom orthotics and I moved onto the Lebron line as a result back then.  Well now with the Kobe 8 “System”, a custom tailored midsole can be purchased from Nike to work with orthotics of all sorts.  Below is a picture of the Kobe 8, my orthotic on top of the removable midsole, and the default combo mid+insole the Kobe 8 ships with for reference.

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In short, these remind me of the Nike Free run shoe with more stability, cushion, support, and most importantly a one to one fit. The default insole that comes with these mold to your feet, but are of course no where near as effective as the prescribed custom orthotics in my opinion.  If you want a detailed review of this shoe, check out Kicksoncourts.com’s thoughts on them.

Being someone that has played in the Lebron line for some time now, the Air Jordan XX8 and Kobe 8 made me realize how heavy and bulky they are for my size and athletic ability, effectively making me clumsy on the court.  This is of course due to the fact that Lebron’s shoe line are crafted to perform well for guys as freakishly built and as athletic as Lebron James. The Lebron X is a prime example of this.  Great cushion, lots of tech, but built for a beast, not a regular guy like me, and now this shoe has turned into an expensive outdoor shoe.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the shoe, I just prefer others to it at this point in time.

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The only Lebron shoe that works extremely well for me is the Lebron 9 Elite.  These were released last year and was an effective re-design to the original Lebron 9 released in late 2011.  If the X Elite follows suit in this direction, it could be promising for the average guy as well.

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So why so many shoes, right?  Shoe rotation.  Most athletic podiatrists for pro and college teams suggest that after a shoe has been worn through extensive play for more than 60 hours, they should be retired and not used further due to midsole compression and stretching of the upper materials from the torque of use and moisture from sweat.  Well fortunately for my wallet’s sake, I don’t play any where near a professional level, so three shoes in my current rotation should last me a long time.

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Basketball Diaries :: Introduction & Jump Shot Development

Back in January when I started this blog, I mentioned my basketball hobby, and applying the concept of Win Learn Change to everything you possibly can in life using it as an example.  I figured that it would be a good idea for me to start blogging more about basketball and the progress I try to make with it.

Before going any further, I’d like to note that I’m not an extremely physically athletic, gifted, or talented individual in general.  I do however love the game of basketball very much, and enjoy playing it as an amateur.  I resumed basketball play in the summer of 2008 primarily to get in shape and develop a healthy weight by body mass indexing standards.  Before that, I played until the 8th grade (1992, man I’m old).  With such a time gap, there was lots on the court for me to develop and re-develop.  This challenge became more of an endeavor to me than a side project.  Regardless, I’m glad this hobby has not been an easy journey as the rewards from succeeding are highly enjoyable.  I definitely intend to keep this hobby going for myself as long as I physically can and will blog about it here and there along the way.

For the past couple of years I have made various strides with my game, such as being able to run the game defensively and offensively on and off the ball, and develop some sort of a rhythmic jump shot.  A consistent in-game jump shot has been (and still is) the hardest task for me to develop.  After watching JR Smith’s Nike video on shooting drills, a simple suggestion of tucking my elbow has made all the difference lately.  The problem is, whenever I adjust my shot in basketball, it almost feels like I’m starting over to a certain degree.  Starting over however turns into motivation, and eventually that turns into results.  At any rate, JR’s pointers have helped me a great deal, and I highly recommend them for anyone looking for help or new ways to improve their jump shot.

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Three years ago I made it a personal goal to start playing my favorite sport basketball on a regular basis instead of just watching it.  Keep in mind that I had not played since Junior High school.  Over the past three years, I had to deal with confidence, stamina, health, learning my limitations, and minor injuries that would keep me out of any action for a month or so at times.  Since complete perfection in basketball (or anything) is unattainable, I sought to become better instead.  I would win, lose, and learn how and why.  This in turn would allow me to implement appropriate changes to be better moving forward.

The concept of Win Learn Change is one of the most important life mantras I have come across thus far.  By practicing this with basketball, it has taught me to apply it to all aspects of my life.  Professionally, personally, and even with relationships on all levels.  A simple example of this in practice would be the action of shooting a basketball.  When I first started playing basketball again, I initially shot from my hip or chin inconsistently, my shooting elbow was not straight, and I had little to nil knee movement to elevate my shot properly.  Over time, I learned to shoot over my head with a straight elbow, and used my knees to elevate my shot properly.  As a result, my shot has become more consistent to help me win.  You can easily take this example and apply it to your life at work, or to accomplish anything in life.

While I am not officially versed on what Thomas Orths has formalized in practice with Win Learn Change, it is still a concept that I strive to live by.  At some point I plan to attend Orths’ endorsed/certified class or seminar on this leadership concept.