One of the best ways to learn how to dunk is to practice jumping as high as you can. An even better way to learn how to dunk is to actually practice dunking. You may be thinking… “How can I practice dunking when I can’t jump high enough dunk yet?”
This simple 5 step progression gives you a target and goal to aim for when you jump. Jumping with a target makes you automatically jump higher and makes your practice all the more effective. This progression is also a great way to practice jumping with an object in your hands, one of the hardest parts of learning how to dunk.
Jumping as high as you can programs your muscles and nervous system to jump high. With more strength, improved coordination and better jumping technique, you will soon be jump higher than ever before.
Step 1: Touch the Net
If you can’t touch the net on a basketball hoop yet, start here. If this is you, don’t be discouraged. This is the most common starting point for someone who is not very tall and just starting out learning to jump. Just think of how great it will feel when you reach your goal. You will literally be on top of the world!
Practice getting a running start, then jumping as high as you can and trying to touch the net. Get in the mindset that you can touch the net. If you feel awkward taking off or even if you just think you need some work on your form, read this article to learn how to improve your jumping technique.
Once you can touch the net consistently, keep working you way up. Make your new goal touching the net with all four fingers, then move up to your hand. When you are able to touch the net with the base of your hand or your wrist, it’s time for step 2.
Step 2: Touch the Rim
Some of you taller, stronger, or natural athletes may be starting out at this step. If you started at step 1 and made it this far, great work! You are well on your way to dunking.
The step is the same basic idea as step 1. From a running start, jump and try to touch the rim. If you just can’t get it, it’s ok, take a break and try again. Read some other articles here at Vertical Dunk and most importantly keep working at it. It’s possible to get some quick gains with things like form, shoes, and warming up properly, but bigger gains take practice, hard work and dedication.
Once you can touch the rim consistently, you can work your way up by learning to grab the rim. Make sure it’s a break away rim that won’t bend or get ruined by hanging. Be careful of missing your grip and losing your balance, it’s a long way from the rim to the ground. If this isn’t an option, just try hitting your palm on the rim as if you were going to grab the rim.
Anyone can touch the rim with enough practice. Someone give this kid a tennis ball for Step 3!
Step 3: Dunk a Tennis Ball
This is where the real fun starts.
Find a tennis ball, get pumped up, and get ready to throw down your first dunk. You can also use a golf ball or baseball, but be careful so it doesn’t come down and hit you on the head.
This step of the progression is great for figuring out your timing and coordination. It’s also a fun goal to shoot for while you’re training to jump even higher. Sometimes it takes a while to get past this step, but it’s worth it when you can finally dunk a ball with consistency. Keep working until you can throw down with authority.
Most importantly, don’t stop here! You can jump higher and learn to dunk.
Step 4: Dunk a Volleyball
Congratulations! You can now dunk a ball. Now it’s time to work your way up to a bigger ball.
Grab a volleyball, women’s basketball, or four square ball and work on your dunking with a bigger ball. If you’re starting to have problems palming the ball or if you want to get prepared for a full size basketball, read this article to learn how to palm a basketball.
At this step, work on getting your wrist close to the rim before trying to stuff the ball in the basket. I know it may be tempting, but try to keep practicing this step until you can dunk a high percentage of your attempts. If you can’t dunk a volleyball, you won’t be able to dunk a basketball.
Next step, the moment you have been waiting for.
If you have an adjustable hoop, you can follow a similar progression. Just make sure to raise it to keep it at a challenging height!
Step 5: Dunk a Basketball!
The time has come. You’re about to dunk a basketball on a 10 foot regulation hoop. You have put in a lot of hard work and it is about to pay off.
By this time you should have your technique down pat. Now it’s all about getting that extra few inches of height to dunk a full size basketball.
If you’re still working on palming a basketball, there’s a few tricks you can do. Try running with both hands on the ball, then when you jump throw the ball up into your dominant hand and use momentum to keep it there. If that’s not working, you can try a more advanced technique like bouncing the ball off the backboard or throwing it up the air and catching it on the bounce. There’s always an alley oop if you have a friend with you.
It’s Show Time
You’ve finally done it! You’re part of a small percentage of the world population along with all-stars Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. It’s time to show your friends and teammates your achievement. Post a video on the Vertical Dunk Facebook page.
If you’re like me, once you learn to dunk you still want to jump higher and learn how to throw down better dunks. Keep practicing, keep training and get stronger. Soon you will be kissing the rim with Dwight Howard or throwing down free throw dunks with Michael Jordan.