How to Dunk If You’re Under 6 Feet Tall
Yes, it’s time to talk about one of the most exciting moves in sports – the slam dunk, and it’s time to answer that age-old question – “How to jump higher?”
[She won't improve your vertical jump, but she still belongs in this post. photo: daily sunny]
Whether you’re short, tall, white, black, purple, WHATEVER, there is a simple, proven way to increase your vertical jump. And we’ll get into that in a moment.
But first, who the hell is Jacob Tucker?
This is Jacob Tucker:
Tucker is 5’11″ and has a 50″ vertical leap! That’s ridiculous!
[He plays for Division III Illinois College, and submitted this video trying to get a spot at the Division I slam dunk contest.]
To put that vertical jump stat into perspective, Blake Griffin -the winner of the 2011 NBA slam dunk contest- had the 2nd best vertical jump in the 2009 NBA draft with 37.5″. Tucker beats him by over a foot!
Tucker has joined the ranks of :
Spud Webb, who is 5’7″
And of course, Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson’s character in White Men Can’t Jump)
All these guys are under 6 feet tall and can throw down a dunk.
So if you’re in the same boat and want to get above the rim, how can you train to increase your vertical jump?
How to Jump Higher in 3 Steps
To improve your vertical leap and jump higher you need to get more powerful.
What is power?
Power = Strength (Force) x Speed (how quickly you can apply that force)
Let’s see how you can use this formula to maximize your vertical jump ability:
Step 1 : Get Your Bodyfat to Less Than 10%
How can you expect to get above the rim if you are carrying around a 20 pound spare tire around your waist?
Lose that gut with a combination of general fitness and diet (see my six pack abs workout for more details)
Step 2 : Get Strong
You can’t launch a rocket to the moon if it’s powered by a little go-kart engine.
Remember – to jump high, you need to be powerful. And strength is the first component of power.
- How strong is strong enough?
Here is a good rule of thumb:
Work up to being able to squat at least 2x your bodyweight
It’s no surprise that Frank Hatfield, the first man to squat 1000 pounds, had a vertical jump of 40 inches without training specifically for it. Strength is the foundation of the vertical jump, especially if you don’t have very good natural jumping ability due to your body structure.
- But what if I don’t have access to heavy weights and a squat rack?
You don’t necessarily need access to a squat rack to get really strong legs. Never fear. Here at HomeWorkoutBlog I am always looking out for the equipment-challenged. Here is one great option:
One Legged Squats
[Here I am doing a one legged squat using a post for balance]
And when these become too easy, try adding weight like this guy:
Don’t worry if you don’t have a weight vest lying around. Just grab your diy training sandbag (click for instructions) and throw it into your backpack. You can wear the backpack on your chest to make balancing easier.
Step 3 : Get Quicker
The second part of our definition of power is speed or quickness.
You could be as strong as a bull, squatting 600 pounds, but you won’t be able to dunk unless you can apply all that force quickly into the ground to blast yourself into the air.
Here is a rule of thumb for quickness -
Can you jump back and forth over a 1 foot high cone or string 20 times in 10 seconds?
Jumping rope and other agility drills are great for improving foot speed, as are plyometrics.
Wrapping up… How to dunk
So, to improve your vertical jump and start throwing down mean dunks, do the following:
- Get Lean
- Get Strong
- Get Quick
If you can apply the force of a 2x bodyweight squat QUICKLY into the ground, guess what?
You’ll be doing dunks like this in no time:
(That was 5’10″ French/Algerian dunker Kadour Ziani, with a 56″ vertical leap(!), by the way)
Thanks for reading and have a great week.
- Kelly Baggett took himself from a vertical jump of around 20″ to 42″, and can dunk easily even though he’s only 5’9″. He came up with the strategy summarized in this post. Check out his excellent guide to improving the vertical jump, the .
- Here is a great article Kelly did on 3 ways to become a better athlete.
- Dave over at NotYourAverageFitnessTips did a great article on using plyometrics to increase vertical jumping ability. Check it out.