A couple of years ago, right after I graduated from college, my friends asked me to play on their church league co-ed volleyball team. I played for a couple of seasons and we really got into it.
I didn’t play volleyball in high school because back then I was stubborn and didn’t do any activities that I wasn’t good at from the get-go. Softball and track came easy to me so I stuck with those. And I regret that because I have crazy long arms and never put them to good use.
Anyways, so I played on this team with my friends and realized that volleyball is actually really fun. My friends and I bought a net that we would practice with, we would get to the gym early and hit around. I was not great, but I was good enough to not be the one really bad girl that the other team always aimed for, so that was a positive. I considered it a good night if I helped score more points than were scored directly on me.
One night we were at the gym early and I was feeling pretty good about all the skills I had developed, so I decided that game I was going to do something that I had never done before. Something I had always dreamed of being able to do but could never pull off.
I was going to spike the ball.
I think that’s what it’s called. Like, when you jump up higher than the net and hit the ball down onto the ground so hard it makes the other team cry. (It’s not truly a volleyball spike if someone on the other team doesn’t cry, that’s a fact.)
So we were practicing before the game and I was telling my friends my plan and having them throw the ball in the air so I could perfect it. On the first try I jumped up, barely hit the ball, landed on the side of my foot and rolled ankle. I was so embarrassed that I immediately just ran out of the door and into the woods behind the church so no one could see my cry. A few minutes later my friends came looking for me and I told them I was “definitely not hurt. I just got lightheaded and needed some air.”
And that was the last time I ever tried to spike a volleyball.
What is the one sports move that you wish you could pull off? The one thing that you see an athlete do and think “that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I need to know how to do that and have someone take a video so I can put it on YouTube and show everyone I know how awesome I am.”
For me, it’s a volleyball spike, though there are others and for that reason I want to compile the list of “coolest moves in all of sports.”
I tried to poll some other people on what their ultimate sports move is, but most of them said dunking a basketball. I guess that is sort of cool, and if you could do it it’s definitely worth bragging about to literally every person you come in contact with, but there have to be more to the list.
So what is that list? Let’s think. First, the parameters:
1. It has to be a move that could feasibly be learned within a month or so of actual work. For that reason, dunking is out. Look, some people can jump 10 feet in the air while palming a full sized basketball, and some people just can’t. As much as we all wish it was, dunking is not a learned skill. You can either do it or you can’t. This trick has to be something that presumably any mildly athletic person could do with a little bit of practice because it has to be something that makes people see it and think “yea, I can do that” and really (sort of) believe it.
2. It must be one motion. One single athletic move, not a Simone Biles roundoff-triple-backflip-twist-mcdouble-Big-Mac-with-large-fry or whatever it’s called. Because that is awesome but not exactly what we’re looking for.
3. It has to be something that isn’t aided by any extra equipment except for one ball. A behind the back lacrosse shot or that thing Tiger Woods used to be able to do where he bounced the ball on his club a bunch of times in a row are both really cool, but this is solely about actual athletic body skills. Also eliminated is pole vault, anything in the X Games, hitting a homerun, and any sort of fancy hockey skills.
4. It can’t be a baseball or softball pitch. I can throw a knuckleball with a baseball and under handed with a softball, but I don’t brag about that too much (except for right now. I’m definitely bragging about that). But again, this is about actual moves.
With that in mind, here is the list I came up with:
1. A volleyball spike. Obviously. It just looks so cool. Like, it’s graceful but also really mean at the same time. It says “I’m going to make you cry, but I’m going to float in the air like a butterfly for a few second beforehand.”
2. A standing backflip. I can do a backflip on a trampoline, off of a diving board, off of my car (don’t try that at home, kids), but I’ve always wanted to just be able to stand there on the ground and do a backflip at any moment’s notice. When David Wilson was a football player at Virginia Tech a few years ago, literally every single time he ever got interviewed with anyone they would ask him to do a backflip. He literally did one while walking to class in a suit and tie and his bookbag still on. It was the coolest thing ever.
3. A soccer bicycle kick. Sort of in the same vein as a backflip, but with an added bonus at the end! A bicycle kick is just barely one step higher than any other fancy move where you kick the ball up and then jump and kick it again while you’re still in the air.
4. High jump with the bar at elbow height. Anything higher than about your elbow is probably unlearnable. But if you can jump backwards and get over a bar that is more than half your height that’s pretty cool.
5. A diving catch in the outfield. I would go homerun robbery here, but I feel like the wall is sort of an aid in that, and because of Rule No. 3 doesn’t count. But a full speed diving catch definitely counts and is definitely awesome. I never really realized just how impressive catches this like were until they started having stat cast for MLB games that says exactly how much ground an outfielder covers. Cardinals centerfielder Randall Grichuk made a catch this year in which he traveled 63.5 feet in less than two seconds for a catch. That’s unreal.
6. A Kyrie Irving layup. Basically, anything Kyrie can do with a basketball. Ankle-breaking dribbles, layups that look like he’s secretly a contortionist with the circus. While dunking may get all the basketball highlights, these types of moves are way cooler in my opinion.
Also, honorable mention to any sort of karate move that involves kicking.