Date: 7. February 2023
Time to read: 3 min
The Dunking Devils are a world-famous acrobatic group who have performed more than 2,000 times in 49 countries during their 10-year career. They have twice won the title of World Acrobatic Kicking Champions and hold two Guinness World Records - for the longest trampoline kick and the highest kicking somersault.
They never gave up on their dream
Their journey started in 2004 with a group of four friends who decided to share their love of acrobatic killing with the world. Despite difficult beginnings and many obstacles, they never gave up on their dream. Over the years, their energetic performances have captivated crowds around the world, and the footage of their incredible feats has brought them internet fame - more than 100 million people have watched it. This style of stunt work originated in the USA. In the late 1970s, they first used a trampoline under a basketball hoop and soon realised that cushions were also useful. Interestingly, from then until now, this sport has never ceased to fascinate crowds around the world. In Slovenia, the pioneers of acrobatic baton twirling were the Frogs, who started under the auspices of the Sokol Bežigrad gymnastics club, where some of our members met as children - and, of course, became enthusiastic about baton twirling.
The world loves them
The world loves us, say the members, but cultures vary, some are very welcoming, some are, let's say, more professional and cold. But for the most part, their experience of touring is very positive, and the response to the various antics is always enthusiastic. It also happens that even if they have not heard of them and their sport before the performance, they approach them after the performance and talk to them, praise them, chat with them. How can they compare with other similar groups in the world? They see the biggest difference on stage - not in the gymnastic elements themselves, but in the way they perform. Showmanship, which has a negative connotation in Slovene - "showmanship" is a better word - is what makes us different, they say. "We are not just bodies doing heavy motor elements in the air, passing the ball and kicking the ball into the basket. On stage, we are people who connect with the audience. On stage we enjoy, we joke, we laugh and we share and radiate these feelings with the audience. We don't hide on stage, we engage the audience in the experience, we look them in the eye and sometimes we flirt with them. Other teams, as far as we have been able to observe, ignore these elements, and it goes down to the very basics of a good performance - escalation."
How do they overcome fear?
Fear is certainly a factor in their dizzying stunts, everyone thinks. How do they overcome it? The initial fear is most often not related to fear of heights, speed or injury. Initial fear is the fear of embarrassment, the fear of not doing well, the fear of what others will think of me, of being laughed at, of not being good enough, of not being worthy of being part of the Devils. And all this fear is based on nothing, it fades quite quickly for most members when they get to know the team, but unfortunately for some people it never fades. Otherwise, they reduce the fear a lot with practice. Before they can master a top trick, they first have to master all the basics - which takes discipline, not courage. When we hear the word "fear", many of us think of spiders, needles, snakes, death, heights and small enclosed spaces. But the biggest fears are not of physical threats, but in the mind, they believe.
And what about their plans for the future?
They are moving their training facilities soon, saying goodbye to Woop Trampoline Park, with whom they have been and will continue to be good friends. They are opening and arranging new acrobatic premises in Ljubljana. This August they will host the World Acrobatic Kicking Championships, sLOVEnia DUNK, on 6.8. at Kongresni trg. Young members who would like to join them, aged at least 12 years, can contact them via their website or social networks, where they can also get the most information and talk directly to the leadership of the ŠD Devils, or they can also send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fans of Luka Dončić and his Dallas Mavericks club will remember last year's game not only for the victory over the Sacramento Kings, but also for the Slovenian evening, called I feel Slovenia night. During halftime, fans could watch a performance by Slovenian acrobats Dunking Devils, cheer with the Ljubljana Dragon, learn about Slovenia in a quiz and watch short promotional films featuring the beauty of Slovenia. The Slovenian-themed game between the teams from Texas and California also reached a large number of American basketball fans via TV coverage.