"How high do I need to jump to be able to dunk?" "How long will it take me to be able to dunk?" These types of questions are in our inbox everyday. Luckily, I have lots of experience to draw from to give you a well-informed answer.
Coach Chase here, and for those who don’t know, I went from a kid who couldn’t dunk in high school to a professional dunker. That’s right, I competed around the world in some of the biggest and most competitive dunk contests of all time. Now I help athletes not only get their first dunks, but I have even worked with multiple NBA slam dunk champions. If you watch the replays from the past handful of years, you’ll even see me lending a hand or throwing passes to NBA slam dunk champs at all star weekend. So I definitely know a thing or two about what’s needed to land a dunk.
Know What It Takes to Land
First part of finding the answer to those popular questions is to know what it takes to land a dunk. Finishing a dunk requires you to be over the rim, to have control of the ball, and the push the ball down into the net. So just getting to 10’ isn’t enough, we have to have our hand(s) high enough over to also handle pushing the ball down through the net. This is going to vary person to person, but I’ll give you a tip at the end which will help minimize the amount of you hand you need over the rim. For real first dunk territory, and what’s called rim grazer dunks, you will need to get to roughly the middle of your palm on the rim. So if you are grabbing the rim with more than your fingers, you are likely high enough if all goes well. The higher you get from there, the better your odds of success are, and the bigger margin for not having a perfect attempt still go down. If you can get your thumb over the rim, now we are getting to a place that will be more consistent. If you are wrists to the rim consistently, now we should be able to dunk closer to on demand.
So the first step is to measure your hand to the desired level of consistency you are aiming for. Mid palm, base of thumb, or wrist.
From here we will get our standing reach measurement. You can do this against a wall, above a door opening, or anywhere else that will allow you to stand tall and measure the highest point that you can reach.
This is the next step, to measure and record your highest reach. In this step remember to not cheat your measurements, stand up tall and reach high. Doesn’t have to be super crazy, feel like you are dislocating your shoulders reaching, but be honest and accurate.
Add your measurement from step 1 to the rim height (standard is 10’0”). For example 120” rim plus 9” hand to wrist = 129”
Take the measurement from step 3 and subtract the measurement from step 2.
For example step 3 was 129” minus an example of 7’9” standing reach measurement. 129”-93” = 36”
In the example used above, a person with a 7’9” standing reach would need to be able to get to 129” to be consistently and easily dunking. In the same example, for landing their first rim grazer dunk they might only need to get to 126”, meaning a 33” jump instead of the 36” needed to consistently dunk.
The reason we have to measure standing reach is that we can get wildly different standing reaches for people of the same height. Arm length, hand size, how high the shoulder start, head size, and so on will all change this measurement person to person. I’ve personally seen people 4”-7” shorter than another person still have the same standing reach height.
Now that you know how to measure what height you will need to jump, let me also say that how high you are is only a part of the equation. You still have to control the ball and you still have to be able to push the ball down. There will be many of you who might jump high enough according to the measurements, yet you might still be consistently missing your attempts. Well, dunking is a skill itself. You might need to work on controlling the ball. Being a person would can not palm a basketball, and know all to well the struggles of jumping high enough only to have the ball roll down my hand onto my forearm by the time I am over the rim. For a person like that, you may need to work off the lob or spend your efforts going for two hand dunks you can control better. Even though you may need to jump slightly higher to reach the same height using a two hand reach, you will be able to keep the ball up higher on your fingertips often making it easier to actually dunk.
Another tip is to avoid grabbing the rim when you are first trying to get consistent. I see this all of the time, and it’s another flaw I was guilty of myself. By grabbing the rim a few things happen that lead to missed dunks. One is we tend to jump towards the rim, rather than being above the rim slightly in front of the rim. Secondly, we tend to let go of the ball too early when we grab the rim. Instead of pushing the ball down through the net with our fingers, we push it forwards and the ball hits the back rim or shoots past the basket. Think about finished the dunk by pushing the ball down through the net.
Last step… get to work! Now that you have the goal and the tips, get out there and make your dunks. Be sure to tag @projectpureathlete in your videos so we can see!
If you need help getting your jump higher to reach those marks, be sure to check out our training programs. They have helped 1000s get to their goals, let us help get you to yours.