It’s that time. Since swagger comes at a price, I shall do my best to steer aspiring ballers in the right direction. Santa, get your affairs in order.
1. Creative Recs
I recommend Chuck Taylor or equivalent shoes for strength training – flat soles that don’t compress, allowing more power transfer to the ground when lifting. But, there are more and more sneakers coming on the market with flat soles but vastly more style. I’ve bought two (make that three) pairs of Creative Recreations, and they are awesome shoes. If you’re living in the dorky Midwest, prepare for a style infusion.
Click on the picture above of their signature shoe, the Cesario, or visit cr8rec.com
2. Custom Chucky Ts
If you’re a purist, however, go with some Converse All-Stars. I’ve had my pair of white/yellow Chucks for 9 years now. They’re falling apart, but won’t go down without a fight. For about $70 you can customize a pair, and when I say customize, I mean every single detail on the shoe. They’re legit. It looks like you have to order by Dec.3 to get a pair by Christmas. Move fast!
3. IronMind Captains of Crush
A post-surgery goal of mine was to close the #2 by my 16 weeks follow up. Well, I did it 3 days after the visit, and 2 days after my buddy beat me to it. Oh well. Anyway, grip strength is crucial in sports, and having some legit grippers can help you accumulate extra training while just sitting around. You can even get certified on the #3, which takes 280 pounds of force to completely close. The #2 takes 195 pounds, and the average man has about 100-120lbs of squeezing strength.
The Captains of Crush (COC) are fullsize grippers, and the IMTUGs are smaller, tw0-finger grippers that help develop power on weaker fingers, like your pinky and ring. It’s nice to have a combo of both, and they have really aided my rehab. You can find them at Ironmind.com or Roguefitness.com.
If you’re buying for a middle-school age athlete, I’d recommend the Guide, Sport or Trainer COC models, & IMTUGs #2 , #3 or #4 respectively in order of difficulty. More of them are better, but if you had to get one, I’d go with the Sport or #3.
For high schoolers, the #1 COC should be workable along with #3, 4 & 5 IMTUGs. The 1.5 COC would be a great goal to work toward (167 pounds of force).
4. New Jeans
If they’re training with me, three things are going to be growing fast:
It’s remarkable how much more I fill out my jeans that were a bit loose 4 months ago, and I’ve had to retire a pair that have morphed into skinny jeans. Having little to do in the gym but legs has made my legs swell to preposterous proportions. Trying on jeans is a laughable experience. “Skinny” don’t pull up past mid-thigh, slim make it up about 2/3 of the way, and “straight” fit in most brands make me look like Robert Plant. I know one of my softball girls, the O-Dawg, has already had to go jean shopping. It’s a trend that will only get worse, albeit for good reasons. Levi’s makes some pretty nice jeans on the cheap, though I do partake in some designer brands when I can find them at Nordstrom Rack. You Do get what you pay for in Jeans, and it’s clear that those who turn their nose at the price of designer jeans haven’t worn them.
5. A FatBoy. For Buggling.
“To Buggle:” To sit in one’s buggle. What is a buggle? I bought two FatBoy “Buggle-Up” bean bag chairs a few months ago. I found them at a deep discount (usually about $350 a piece) and when I realized they would become my new meditation chairs, I immediately pulled the trigger. One for home, one for the gym. They’re basically the most comfortable things ever, are indoor/outdoor and kind of interesting in general. They’re also huge at 75 x 55 inches.
Visit Fatboyusa.com and start buggling. IMMEDIATELY.
6. DBSP Hoodie
Yes, this is a shameless plug. But, my promotional products vendor and former teammate Mike has set me up with a slick design on some very heavy, very warm sweatshirts. I have the softest DBSP & Warbird shirts ever, so he hasn’t steered me wrong yet. These are only locally available (I don’t feel like shipping them) and can be ordered on the Hoodie page on my website. Unfettered is an awesome word, not only worth knowing, but wearing proudly on your spine.
7. Getting Focused, Staying Focused
As you know, mental training is now a passion of mine. This passion was incubated by Alan Jaeger, now one of my mentors and good friends. Reading his book and attending his camp, and the continued correspondence with him has helped me make monumental leaps in my game. Negativity has no place to take hold anymore. I highly recommend his book, a great training tool at 17 bucks. Find it at Jaeger Sports or by clicking the picture below.
8. Sunglasses. No, Not Athletic Ones.
Stop wearing your Oakley M-Frames, Radars & Half-Jackets in everyday life. STOP IT.
No, they don’t match your button-down. No, they aren’t appropriate at the mall, even if it’s sunny. And no, it doesn’t remind girls that you play sports. It’s just plain lame.
Don’t believe me? Here’s three celebrities who are WAY cooler than you or I. (Look – No M-Frames!)
9. Blender Bottle
I didn’t like the concept until I got one for free…I’m sold. It seems to really get my chocolately post-workout goodness dissolved in a hurry. I take maltodextrin with my shake, which can be really, really sticky, and my blender bottle breaks it up pretty well. Good stocking stuffer.
10. Oakley Brand…Anything.
I didn’t realize how cool Oakley’s stuff is until maybe a year ago. My hoodie of theirs is awesome. My 3-in-1 duffle/carryon/backpack gets compliments in the airport. I drool over their watches. I bought my sister a Yoga bag that she described as the single best gift she has and will ever receive (well, she likes it at least). Their eyewear is obviously top-notch. Basically, you can’t go wrong with a gift from Oakley.com or OakleyVault.com (their sale page).
Mom – I want this watch. Yes, I realize it’s over $600, but why does that matter? You can’t put a price on your love for me, right? RIGHT?
11. Something Loud.
Keep in mind that this gift guide is biased to my own personal tastes in things. However, I’ve been around a lot of guys with way more fashion sense than I, and I feel like I’ve created a good balance for an average white dude.
I’m becoming more attune with fashion as a result of my three years hanging around Latin players (pronouced Cone-Yo). They wear some pretty loud stuff, be-it sneakers, shirts, jeans, sunglasses, etc. Whatever they wear is typically bold and makes a statement. A lot of it I would never wear myself, but it gave me the realization – fashion is what you make of it. If you dress yourself well and wear something with confidence, it’ll look good. It can be a bit crazy or bold, as long as you look people in the eye and walk with some swagger while it’s on you. Ultimately, that’s what matters. If you’re dressing to impress, it’s more about how you carry yourself, anyway, than the actual threads themselves.
There are, however, exceptions…Merry Christmas!