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.

For taxonomic purposes it is an important distinction, but the modifiers discussed below are often considered dunk types in common parlance. This misconception is perhaps attributable to the modifier being the most salient component of the dunk from the perspective of the observer. However, each dunk modifier requires a dunk type to be a successful dunk—albeit the most-basic dunk type.
Starting out, athletes should always err on the conservative side and only perform 10-20 maximal effort jumps in a training session. Because of the explosive nature of a vertical jump, the body can only perform a handful before performance starts to drop. Training beyond this point will not improve jumping height and will only lead to injury. At the completion of a training session, it is generally recommended to rest 48 hours before completing another intense training session.
The days and jumps and deadlifts and calf raises rolled on, rep by rep, protein shake by protein shake. Six months became seven, then eight. To protect my right hand, I began wearing a canvas gardening glove with the fingers cut off. It soon became stained with blood—the equivalent of Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, but with one-millionth the significance. The rims where I toiled belonged to me now, such that I barely noticed the toddlers wobbling nearby, the skateboarders swirling around me as day turned to dusk, the elderly couple ambling arm in arm, looking for all the world like my wife helping me to the shower on the morning after a double day.
Each time you land, spring immediately back up. Don’t hesitate. The single beat that typically happens after we hit the ground is a natural reflex, and we may not even realize we’re doing it. But that extra pause has to go if we’re looking for a way to jump higher. Check the mirror or watch videos of yourself as you hit the ground. The momentary pause you may see between one vertical jump and the next may be holding you back. For more detail on how this works, visit the plyometrics section of our website.
Add some flair with a double-pump. Suggesting you're so high you could dunk it twice, in the double-pump dunk you bring the ball back down to chest level at the apex of your leap, then force it back up to slam it with authority. Some notable players, Tracy McGrady among them, would do this regularly while spinning in the air, doing a 360 dunk variation.
Generally, a player can reach their highest when jumping off one foot and reaching up with one hand. For a player that is right-handed, the most common way is approaching from the left and jumping off the left foot with the ball in the right hand. Obviously, for a left-handed player, it’s coming from the right and jumping off the right with the ball in your left hand.
The vertical jump is defined as the highest point that the athlete can touch from a standing jump, less the height that the athlete can touch from a standing position. The measurement of the jump is flawed if the athlete is permitted to take one or more steps before jumping, as the athlete will convert some of the energy developed in the step taken into the force of propulsion that generates upward lift. Basketball has numerous legends and other urban myths concerning the seemingly superhuman leaping ability attributed to certain players; one such player, former University of Louisville star Darrell "Dr. Dunkenstein" Griffith, was reputed to possess a 42 in (1 m) vertical leap. It is likely that the average National Basketball Association player 6 ft 6 in (1.97 m) or shorter has a vertical leap of between 25 and 30 in (0.63 and 0.75 m); taller and heavier players will usually not be able to jump as high.
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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.
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.
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.
From Jordan to Lebron, even Yao Ming, nothing elicits more awe and applause than a dunk. As one of the highest percentage field goals one can attempt in basketball, this is a move that's worth mastering. While it doesn't hurt to be taller, you can build up both the muscles and skills required to execute this famous feat on the court, regardless of your height and experience. See Step 1 for more information.
Go between the legs. While he wasn't the first player to complete it, Vince Carter wowed crowds at the 2000 NBA dunk contest by passing the ball under one leg while in the air and slamming it with authority. It didn't hurt that his forehead was almost touching the rim. If you've worked your ups to that height, try passing it under one leg and dunking it.

“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.’ ”

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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.).
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.
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.
A common, low-tech plyometrics method is performing box jumps, where the athlete jumps repeatedly from the floor to the top of the box and back again. By concentrating on the mechanics of the jump, directing propulsion from the balls of the feet and thrusting with an explosive extension of the legs, the ability of the athlete to land lightly and immediately return to the floor enhances motor control over the movement.
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