You will need to get at least that high to be able to snap the ball into the basket. If you're relatively short, then you have your work cut out for you. Developing a one-handed dunk requires less vertical ability than a two-handed dunk, and, for most players, jumping off of one foot from a running start makes it easier to jump high enough to dunk. There are many things that you can do to work on your vertical leap.
Like Todd and me, Nicholson was a two-foot jumper, and he echoed what Todd had told me was another flaw in my technique: “Your next-to-last step has to be a lot bigger. That big leap forward with your right foot—your penultimate step—that’s what allows you to explode off the ground.” To demonstrate, Nicholson sent me a video of Carter’s performance at the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest, which was a bit like showing a Monet to a finger painting kindergartner and saying, “No, like this.”
When I was growing up, basketball was big in my neighborhood. Everyone wanted to be able to dunk on a regulation 10-foot high basket and, thus, everyone focused on improving their vertical jump. The progression usually went a little something like this: touch the rim, grab the rim, hang on the rim, dunk with a volleyball and, finally, dunk with a basketball!
“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.’ ”
A strut is a major structural part of a suspension. It takes the place of the upper control arm and upper ball joint used in conventional suspensions. Because of its design, a strut is lighter and takes up less space than the shock absorbers in conventional suspension systems. Struts perform two main jobs. First, struts perform a damping function like shock absorbers. Internally, a strut is similar to a shock absorber. A piston is attached to the end of the piston rod and works against hydraulic fluid to control spring and suspension movement. Just like shock absorbers, the valving generates resistance to forces created by the up and down motion of the suspension. Also like shock absorbers, a strut is velocity sensitive, meaning that it is valved so that the amount of resistance can increase or decrease depending on how fast the suspension moves.
During the 1940s and 1950s, 7-foot center and Olympic gold medalist Bob Kurland was dunking regularly during games. Yet defenders viewed the execution of a slam dunk as a personal affront that deserved retribution; thus defenders often intimidated offensive players and thwarted the move. Satch Sanders, a career Boston Celtic from 1960 to 1973, said:
A vital part of basketball training is improving your vertical leap. As an athlete, you should be incorporating exercises into your basketball drills and fitness training that focus on increasing muscle strength and leg speed. Simply put, you won’t turn into Vince Carter or Andre Iguodala overnight, but learning how to work the appropriate muscles on a daily basis will go a far way towards improving your overall vertical.
Scaling the back squat for beginner-level athletes generally entails sticking to lighter loads (even bodyweight only to start) while learning proper technique. Goblet squats with a kettlebell or dumbbell can be used to practice form, but keep in mind that goblets are an anterior (front-loaded) variation and won’t directly mimic the mechanics of the back squat.
Three weeks after I received that counsel, on a rare afternoon when I felt fully rested, I dunked a volleyball on a 9' 11" rim. Again, I knew I could never swing my arms while palming a basketball the way I’d swung them while palming that volleyball, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel badass. Thirteen failed attempts later, I did it again. Then two more times, each one an unexpected thunderclap. All of the explosive Olympic lifting I’d been doing was paying off, but my problem wasn’t going anywhere: How could I get my hand and a basketball over the cylinder? A lob to myself off the backboard? A big bounce off the blacktop?
Important Update! – I have been receiving a few emails/comments on players tracking their jump during the course of their program. Please understand that what you are doing when completing a jump program is breaking down the muscle. You aren’t going to see improvements mid-week because the muscle hasn’t healed properly. That’s why I suggest only checking how much you’ve improved at the end of each rest week. Rest is just as important as the routine.