At the competitive level (i.e., the NFL and NBA combines), vertical leap is measured using a “jump tester”—a tripod with a series of thin plastic sticks one inch apart. If you have access to this equipment, it’s your best bet for getting an accurate measurement. A cheaper, more feasible option is to do your jump next to a wall and mark the highest point you touch with a piece of chalk.
The things I had going for me: an understanding spouse; a modicum of foot speed and leaping ability, flashed during the occasional Motrin-supported pickup game; proximity to one of the best training centers in the world; and, again, an understanding spouse. The forces working against me made for a longer list and included (but were far from limited to) my average hand size and arm length, a lower-back injury that I suffered while playing semipro football in 2009 and my age. I was 42.
Whether the result of a 180° spin or body angle at takeoff, the double clutch is generally performed with the player's back toward the rim. While this orientation is rather conducive to the double clutch motion, Spud Webb was known to perform the dunk while facing the basket. Additionally, Kenny "Sky" Walker, Tracy McGrady—in the 1989 and 2000 NBA Contests, respectively—and others, have performed 360° variation of the double clutch (McGrady completed a lob self-pass before the dunk). Circa 2007, independent slam dunker T-Dub performed the double clutch with a 540° spin which he concluded by hanging on the rim.
The vertical jump involves coordinated spine, hip, knee, and ankle extension to produce force in a vertical direction very quickly, while the muscles are shortening through to a very short muscle length. Since the time available for producing force is long compared to other athletic movements, this reduces the importance of rate of force development. Yet, the force-velocity relationship is the primary determinant of the amount of force that can be exerted at a given movement speed. Therefore, maximum force, velocity, and the force-velocity gradient all affect vertical jump height.
Before and after every workout, stretch your legs. This can lead to increase flexibility which loosens your muscles and allows them to perform better with a greater range of motion. In other words, they are strong and function better. Be sure to include dynamic stretches into your warm-up to get your joints moving and static stretches into your cool down after the workout.
I scoured the Internet looking for guidance. There are dozens of sites promising a path to dunking, most of them coded at the dawn of the Web. It was daunting finding one that seemed legit. I ended up paying $67 for the Jump Manual, an online program offered by Jacob Heller, a trainer with a 42-inch vertical who counts NBA players among his clients, according to his website. Next, I ordered a pair of Strength Shoes. You’ll remember these if you’re a basketball player of a certain age—the ridiculous-looking training kicks popular in the ’90s, with a platform under the toe that places your bodyweight on the balls of your feet.
“Put in the work. It’s muscle memory, first and foremost. Trainingwise, people say, ‘You gotta do this, you gotta do that.’ I didn’t believe in that. I never worked on my legs in high school or middle school. I would just go through this routine over and over and over, visualizing that day when you dunk on the court. And then you live in that moment.”
Start with a ping-pong ball, then a tennis ball, then a softball, then a volleyball, then a youth-sized basketball, and on up until you can dunk with a regulation size ball. If you can't palm the ball, then you will need to learn how to control the ball with two hands until the last minute extension for the dunk with one hand, or you will have to jump high enough to dunk two-handed.
Justifying these selfish, skewed priorities in my head as I stuffed a basketball into my backpack and pedaled away from our home would turn out to be one of the most formidable obstacles in my path. I must have whispered, What the f--- am I doing? as many times as I leaped toward one of the rusty rims scattered around the south Los Angeles beach community where we live. That latter number tallied somewhere around 5,000, according to my journal and 24-plus hours of video. Many of these jumps were attempted while wearing a weighted vest that pulled me downward, the same way that home pulled me sideways.
From the Department of Intensive Care, Erasme University Hospital (D.D.B., A.B., J.-L.V.); the Department of Intensive Care, Brugmann University Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles (J.D., P.G.); and the Department of Intensive Care, Centre Hospitalier Etterbeek Ixelles (D.C.) — all in Brussels; the Department of Intensive Care, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Charleroi, Charleroi, Belgium (P.B., P.D.); the Department of Medicine III, Intensive Care Unit 13H1, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna (C.M.); and the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Rio Hortega University Hospital, Valladolid, Spain (C.A.).
Perform the routine every second day to give your body a days rest in-between workouts. This means that on week one you’ll be training 4 times a week, week two you’ll be training 3 times per week, and on week three you’ll be training 4 times per week. That ends up being 11 workouts per phase for a total of 33 workouts in the program. Also, during this program you will be taking one week off between each phase to let your body completely recover. You need to give your muscles time to fully repair in order to grow stronger and more explosive.