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!
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?
My quest to dunk started poorly. The main problem was that I could only do about half of the very long list of ercises the Jump Manual instructed at the crowded and inadequate YMCA near my place. The basketball court—the only space big enough to do some of the drills—was always occupied with classes. The Strength Shoes, meanwhile, were so absurd that I was too embarrassed to wear them in front of other gym-goers. I used them only a handful of times, in an empty stairwell on the top floor of the gym.
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.
Another aspect to look at for any potential dunkers is flexibility. I'm about 6'4 and 21. In high school, I, like many of you on here, worked on jumping and lifting to gain power. I had some decent strength, but the flexibility of a toothpick. Once I got out of high school and got more interested in fitness, I saw how much that affected me. If you can't touch your toes or only squat 8 inches down, this is a great place to start working on your flexibility.
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The back squat and jump squat are the two most commonly-used strength training exercises for increasing vertical jump height. The back squat is clearly more effective for improving maximum force, while the jump squat can be used to shift the force-velocity gradient towards a more “velocity-oriented” profile when required. In addition, the jump squat has the secondary benefit of training force production right through until the muscles are contracting at short lengths, because of its longer acceleration phase. Even so, it is unclear whether squat variations are optimal for improving vertical jump height, because the center of mass is in a different place from in the vertical jump.
Squats – start with the bar behind your neck, resting on your shoulders and make sure you’re standing with your feet shoulder width apart. From this position, slowly lower your body by bending at your knees. You’ll go all the way down until you’re in a deep squat and holding that position for two seconds. Then you can slowly rise back up to your starting position. Make sure you keep your back straight and you’re bending at your knees.
Unfortunately, I’m not the 6' 7" son of a Hall of Famer, so I had to resort to desperate devices—like Hennessy, an infamous and inexpensive cognac that, according to one of the two NBA players who recommended it to me, “will give you that Yah! That bounce. That little bit of meanness you need.” The little minibar-sized bottle that I downed 30 minutes into an intense session of dunk attempts on a sweltering day last summer, had no effect other than scorching my esophagus, giving me a headache and releasing from my pores an aura that, as my six-year-old put it that evening, “smells like medicine.”
The rate of death at 28 days in this study was close to 50%, which is to be expected in a study with very few exclusion criteria and is similar to the rate in previous observational studies.3,9,21-24 Our trial was a pragmatic study that included all patients who were treated for shock states, and therefore, it has high external validity. The study design allowed for maximal exposure to the study drug, since we included patients who had received open-label vasopressors for a maximum of 4 hours before randomization and since during the 28-day study period, the study drug was withdrawn last when patients were weaned from vasopressor therapies and was resumed first if resumption of vasopressor therapy was necessary.
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.
Barry, who retired from the NBA in 2009, recalled that a few days before our sit-down he “drove out to the Clippers’ practice facility, wearing sneakers and board shorts, just to get my basketball fix in. Between games I pick up a ball and start shooting. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, You’re 42, man; can you still? So I get a rebound, do a little power dribble in the paint and, sure enough, throw it down. I put the ball down and walked out. I can still do that. That’s good.”
“There’s something about dunking a basketball that lures us in,” he said, reflecting on his first jam, during lunch period his sophomore year at De La Salle High in Concord, Calif., back when his driver’s license read 5' 11", 112 pounds. “It stokes the imagination. It’s something you always dream of doing. I have a friend whose father, at age 50, is trying to dunk.”
Often times, basketball players have used one-leg jumping their whole life. It's just a much more natural movement because it's used every single time someone goes for a layup. On the other hand, volleyball players are often used to two-foot jumping because it is the most common way to jump when trying to block or spike. So, if you have all the suppositions to be a great two-foot jumper, but you get barely of the ground this way, it's probably because of a lack of technique.