To get your training started, you need a way to measure your jump. If you’re testing your vertical at gym or in a professional type setting, they may have a Vertec. The Vertec is one of the most common apparatus for measuring vertical jump ability. It is the vertical jump-testing device of choice for many college and professional teams, but they also have the budget for such a thing. If you’re wanting to test your vertical in a budget-friendly way, you can easily use a measuring tape, a marked wall, or chalk for marking a wall.

I went through this progression, too. I went from touching the middle of the net at 12 years old, to dunking a basketball at 14 years old, to doing serious acrobatic 360-degree dunks at 17 years old. In college, my personal record for the vertical leap was 40 inches. At my peak, I was able to touch the top of the square on a regulation backboard, about 11.5 feet from the ground. Even now, in my thirties, I can dunk a basketball while standing underneath the basket—no run up required. I owe it all to the power of the vertical jump.

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.

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.”


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Because of the possible combinations of starting and finishing hands, and raised-legs, there are many variations on the basic under-the-legs dunk—more so than any other.[17] For example, in a 1997 French Dunk contest, Dali Taamallah leapt with his right leg while controlling the ball with his left hand, and once airborne he transferred the ball from his left hand, underneath his right leg to his right hand before completing the dunk.[18] NBA star Jason Richardson has also pioneered several notable variations of the between-the-legs including a lob-pass to himself[19] and a pass off of the backboard to himself.[20] Independent athlete Shane 'Slam' Wise introduced a cuffed-cradle of the ball prior to initiating the under the leg transfer and finishing with two-hands.[21] While a number of players have finished the dunk using one- or two-hands with their backs to the rim, perhaps the most renowned variant of the dunk is the combination with a 360°, or simply stated: a 360-between-the-legs. Due to the athleticism and hang-time required, the dunk is a crowd favorite and is heralded by players as the preeminent of all dunks.[citation needed]

Similar to building explosive power by jumping over a stationary object, hurdles allow you to practice your leap. Space eight flights of hurdles two feet from each other and aim to jump over each like a pogo stick—basically, as high as you can. Repeat this for 10 repetitions: one flight of eight hurdles equals one repetition. Do this twice per week.


During the 2009 NBA dunk contest, Howard had a separate goal brought onto the court, and the rim was noticeably significantly higher than a standard goal. Howard, after going into a 1950s-era telephone booth and again fashioning the Superman attire, caught a pass from Nelson and easily completed a two-handed dunk on the higher goal. While this was not performed for record-setting purposes, the dunk received a perfect score and a warm response from the crowd, in part because of its theatrics. Also in this contest, 5'9" guard Nate Robinson wore a green New York Knicks jersey and green sneakers to represent Kryptonite, playing on Howard's Superman theme. He used a green "Kryptonite" ball, and jumped over the 6'11" Howard prior to dunking. This dunk and the theatrics could have won the competition for Robinson, who was voted the winner by the NBA fans. Robinson then thanked Howard for graciously allowing him to dunk over him, asking the crowd to also give Howard a round of applause.
Some players thinking jumping off two feet to be more comfortable, but it’s different for every player. Take time while you’re practice your jump to find what’s the most comfortable for you. As you’re learning the right way to jump, comfort is crucial because you don’t want to hurt yourself making a move that feels awkward. You want to be comfortable taking off and landing - and that can be done a number of different ways.
I'm 33 yrs old, turning 34 in a month. I stand 5'7" and weigh 155 lbs. I used to touch the rim with both hands but now I can only touch the back board... I almost came close to dunking, but that was when I was 22 years old. I still dream of dunking one in...but I think the exercises that I used to do...don't seem to work anymore... Is it still possible for me to dunk even at this age?
Vertical jump measurements are used primarily in athletic circles to measure performance. The most common sports in which one's vertical jump is measured are track and field, netball, basketball, football, and volleyball, but many sports measure their players' vertical jumping ability during physical examinations. In addition, single and multiple vertical jumps are occasionally used to assess muscular strength and anaerobic power in athletes.[3]
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