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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.

Joe would die some 30 years later, at age 82, but what he said that day as he stood in a puddle of dry tobacco—his clothes disheveled, the other Fortenberrys yelping a chorus of excited Yessirs—spoke to me in a way that can only be understood by those who blindly take on missions that exact a greater toll than was envisioned. “Well,” he said with a grin, “that’s the last time I’ll ever do that.”
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.
I mean, I think you can probably improve your vertical some in a month. I think, though, that for most normal people who aren’t teenagers who are trying out for their basketball team, who don’t have all that time on their hands, I think there’s a much saner way to go about it, where you’re steadily improving your vertical over a period of time. You know, there’s a lot of this kind of slightly crazy, kamikaze, self-improvement type of thing, whether it’s trying to jump higher or do anything else. I’m sure those things work to some extent, but it’s not the way I would have wanted to go about it.
The first thing they have to do is improve their flexibility, for a couple of reasons. They need to be flexible to undertake the kind of exercises they need to be able to jump higher. They also just need to be able to increase their flexibility, because in the short sprints you take when you try to dunk a basketball, if you can imagine yourself running up to try to dunk on the rim, the higher you can bring your knees in a sprint, just like a sprinter running the hundred meters, the greater force you’ll be able to exert on the ground, especially with your leaping step.

“No, not Dad,” Oliver said in the brick tract home where he grew up. “He was an older dad, like you, and his family was the focus of his life. The only time he wasn’t home with us kids was when he went out on the road for Phillips Petroleum, buying and selling leases in western Kansas and Oklahoma. When he got back he’d say, ‘All I wanted to do was come home.’ ”
Four times a week, from April through October, I embarked on 90-minute explosive weightlifting sessions based on the years I’d spent working as a strength coach to club, college and professional volleyball players. Squats, squat jumps, deadlifts, lunges, box jumps, cleans, sprints. . . . Three or four days a week I visited one of my local blacktops, where I tried to dunk tennis balls on 10-foot rims or throw down basketballs and volleyballs on lower ones. By May 3—one month in—I could dunk a tennis ball on a 9' 10" rim. I considered this a better-than-good start, not realizing that compared to dunking a basketball, this tennis-ball jam was akin to a child scrawling the diagonal line that begins a capital A on his first day of learning the alphabet.
“No, not Dad,” Oliver said in the brick tract home where he grew up. “He was an older dad, like you, and his family was the focus of his life. The only time he wasn’t home with us kids was when he went out on the road for Phillips Petroleum, buying and selling leases in western Kansas and Oklahoma. When he got back he’d say, ‘All I wanted to do was come home.’ ”
In the ABA, Charlie Hentz broke two backboards in the same game on November 6, 1970 resulting in the game being called.[43] In the NCAA, Jerome Lane shattered a backboard while playing for Pitt in a 1988 regular-season game against Providence, and Darvin Ham did the same while playing for Texas Tech in a tournament game against North Carolina in 1996.
If you took a poll of the areas athletes wanted to improve the most, their vertical jump would be among the tops. Athletes playing basketball and volleyball rely on their verticals in a number of ways, but one major way is it gives them an edge to stand out amongst their peers. Players want to jump higher and coaches are looking for players that can put some space between their feet and the court.
If you make these few exercises a part of your basketball training, you’ll be well on your way to increasing the height of your vertical jump. Be sure to measure your jump height regularly in order to track your progress -- set goals for yourself each week and remain committed. Before long, you’ll be jumping higher and seeing noticeable improvements in your basketball game.
If anything came to surprise me about this journey, it was the sheer volume of physical pain involved. I had taken on impressive physical feats before. I had run a sub-3:30 marathon back in 2003 (my first and only attempt) after put­ting in the hundreds of training miles required. I’d done some of the most grueling weight training on offer, most of it either on the beach or at The Yard, a nearby temple of athletic performance where Maria Sharapova, Kobe Bryant and Tom Brady, among many others, have kneeled with exhaustion. But the physical toll of trying to dunk made the marathon and the semipro football and the parenting and everything else I’d ever attempted seem like mere rubber band snaps to the wrist. The lifting didn’t hurt as much as the jumping, the banging of my quadragenarian appendages into the ground, taking off and landing 50 to 200 times a day. My legs never got used to this bludgeoning, never got better at recovering from it, despite my daily foam-rollering, stretching, icing and hydrating. Even on my off days, a quick game of tag with my kids or a bike ride to the park meant daggers in my thighs and a gait like Fred Sanford’s.

Keep your upper body straight and your arms relaxed at your side. Extend your left leg straight out behind you with a slight knee bend. Place your right leg in front of you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your thigh parallel to the floor. This is your basic lunge position. From this position, slightly lower your entire body, and jump to the opposite lunge position with your right leg extended behind you and your left leg in front of you. Repeat 25 jumping lunges in a row for three sets with a 1-minute break between sets.


Improve your flexibility by stretching. Stretch your hamstrings and buttocks by laying on your back with one leg crossed over the other at the knee. Pull the lower leg toward you firmly and steadily. This should stretch the hamstring of the crossed leg. For another exercise, touch your toes while seated, standing, with your legs spread, and with your legs crossed.
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I am in grade 10, 15 years old and 6'1 3/4". I have big hands and can palm the ball...I could touch rim in grade 8 and getting closer to dunking everyday now..it literally takes no effort to touch rim now but whenever I go for the dunk I get the ball above rim easily but have trouble getting that wrist motion to actually throw the ball in the hoop...and help?
With less than 2 minutes remaining, and the Grizzlies leading, 72-70, Pistons power forward Henry Ellenson appeared to have an easy dunk to tie the game. — Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Jaren Jackson Jr.'s weary Sunday caps fabulous NBA Summer League week," 9 July 2018 The high-energy guy in Game 1 was JaVale McGee, who scored a couple of times but also had a wide-open dunk blocked by the rim. — Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "It was a grim scene inside the Cavs’ locker room after Game 1 loss to Warriors," 1 June 2018 When Bleacher Report posted a photo on Instagram about Wade wanting LeBron to sign a photo of their iconic pass and dunk in Miami, Chalmers chimed in on the comment section and took credit for the play. — Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Mario Chalmers got busted after taking credit for iconic Wade-LeBron play," 22 May 2018 The game opened with George Hill having two dunks for the Cavs in the first three minutes. — Terry Pluto, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Cavaliers sweeping victory reason to be excited -- Terry Pluto (photos)," 7 May 2018 Insider: Why a graduate transfer makes sense for Archie Miller, IU basketball His top highlight of the night was a dunk in the second half that rattled the rim. — Dakota Crawford, Indianapolis Star, "Romeo Langford gets McDonald's All American Game viewers fired up with highlight plays," 28 Mar. 2018 There was still 2:41 left in the first quarter when Poly sophomore forward Justin Lewis had a rim-rattling dunk in the No. 4 Engineers’ Class 3A state semifinal against Stephen Decatur on Thursday night. — Glenn Graham, baltimoresun.com, "Record-setting Mims leads No. 4 Poly past Stephen Decatur, 63-46, and into 3A state title game," 9 Mar. 2018 At the center of it all was Wooten, who matched a career-high in blocks, had several highlight-worthy dunks and jumped completely over Payton Pritchard at one point pursuing another block. — Tyson Alger, OregonLive.com, "Kenny Wooten and Troy Brown spark dramatic turnaround in Oregon's win over Washington," 8 Feb. 2018 McDaniels flashed across the baseline, collected Watson’s pass and hammered home a dunk in the 85-49 final at Viejas Arena. — Bryce Miller, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Aztecs season has chance to be defined by unflappable freshman McDaniels," 9 Jan. 2018
Which is why, on April 1, 2014, I dedicated myself to dunking a basketball for the first time. So that I could live it, breathe it, perhaps take a crack at it with my pen. I had tossed this idea around for years, realizing with each passing birthday that my chances of success were dimming. However, on that April Fool’s Day (a coincidence) I spent three hours on the court and at the gym, with a promise to myself to return several times each week until I threw one down like Gerald Green. Or at least like Litterial Green, who played in 148 NBA games between 1992 and ’99, and who, like me, was born in the early ’70s, stands 6'1", 185 pounds and is at no risk of having dunker carved into his epitaph.
An important component of maximizing height in a vertical jump is attributed to the use of counter-movements of the legs and arm swings prior to take off, as both of these actions have been shown to significantly increase the body’s center of mass rise. The counter-movement of the legs, a quick bend of the knees which lowers the center of mass prior to springing upwards, has been shown to improve jump height by 12% compared to jumping without the counter-movement. This is attributed to the stretch shortening cycle of the leg muscles enabling the muscles to create more contractile energy. Furthermore, jump height can be increased another 10% by executing arm swings during the take off phase of the jump compared to if no arm swings are utilized. This involves lowering the arms distally and posteriorly during the leg counter-movements, and powerfully thrusting the arms up and over the head as the leg extension phase begins. As the arms complete the swinging movement they pull up on the lower body causing the lower musculature to contract more rapidly, hence aiding in greater jump height.[5] Despite these increases due to technical adjustments, it appears as if optimizing both the force producing and elastic properties of the musculotendinous system in the lower limbs is largely determined by genetics and partially mutable through resistance exercise training.[6][7]
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