Start Dunking With This 2-Day Program

June 25, 2012

Must See Basketball Videos


Are you trying to fly high, throw it down and impress scouts? If so, are you following the latest and greatest guides to improving your vertical leap? There' s a good chance that mindlessly following popular exercises to improve your dunk is doing more harm than good.

Don't Make the Mistake

Jumping high enough to dunk is all about applying force into the ground as quickly as possible. The go-to exercises for training to improve your vert are known as plyometrics.

The modern idea of plyometrics, in both philosophy and exercise selection, is different from the original concept, which was brought to America by Yuri Verkhoshansky. Verkhoshansky's exercise principles are commonly referred to as "shock training."

Since shock training was introduced, hundreds of programs have attempted to mimic Verkhoshansky's exercises. Some of these programs prescribed hundreds of jumps and other explosive exercises performed daily. It's often forgotten that these exercise were performed under close supervision with careful monitoring for fatigue. In his book Special Strength Training, Verkhoshansky advises athletes to start with as few as six to eight reps of a shock-training exercise.

Jumping into these methods from the get-go is not the way to go. Instead, I recommend performing the exercises below to improve your dunk.

Step One is About Force

The first half of the jumping equation is producing force. In a sports training context, force is essentially synonymous with strength. More strength equals more force.

The best movement for producing force for the vertical jump is a properly executed Squat. Squats teach the body how to drive force vertically, trumping leg extensions and other isolation exercises.

Until you can squat one and a half times your bodyweight, using fancy methods like shock training or high-level plyometrics to increase your force output will lack effectiveness.

Applying Force Quickly

The second half of the vertical jump equation is learning how to apply force quickly. Applying force to the ground requires a solid connection between the body and the ground. This starts with ankles and calf muscles that can stay strong and stiff, because if the ankles can't hold strong, effective force transfer diminishes.

To develop ankle strength and stability, point your toes to the sky and perform Ankle Bounces with a slight knee bend. When you are airborne, bring the tops of your feet to the sky. On the descent, recoil your forefeet forcefully into the ground.

Exercises to Dunk

Instead of diving into Drop Jumps, Depth Jumps and other shock training methods, the best starting point is simply to practice dunking. Use the net and backboard to gauge your progress over time.

Below is a sample routine that synthesizes the above concepts. It is best suited for the off-season, when your legs have had a chance to recover. The first day is strength development and bilateral (two-legged) jumping. The second day is strength retention and unilateral (single-leg) jumping.

Day One

Bilateral Ankle Bounds - 2x30

Two-Legged Dunk Attempts

Stop when maximum jump height starts to diminish. If you aren't close to dunking, simply practice your vertical jump from a running start. Use the net to gauge overall jump height.

Back Squat - Work up to a 6 RM

Initially, strive to increase weight on the bar. On the first day, warm up with one medium-to-difficult set of six reps. Say, for instance, you tap out at 135 pounds. The next week, perform the same warm-up and try lifting 140 for six reps. The next week, go for 145 pounds, and so on.

Day Two (Three or Four days later)

Single-Leg Ankle Bounds - 3x10

Single-Leg Dunk Attempts

Stop when maximum jump height starts to diminish. If you aren't close to dunking, simply practice your vertical jump from a running start. Use the net to gauge overall jump height. Alternate legs for each repetition.

Back Squat

Repeat the same workout performed earlier in the week, only with sets of two reps. This is a light day that stimulates recovery and improves form. Using the example above, the first day would be at two reps of 135 pounds. The second day, two reps at 140 pounds and so on.

Conclusion

When looking for exercises to improve your dunking ability, remember not to go too fast, too soon. A lot of popular methods are mutations of high-level training programs. When in doubt, start simple. That will pave the way for tremendous gains in the future—plus, it flat-out works.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anthony Mychal
- Anthony Mychal is a writer, athlete consultant, teacher and coach. He has a M.S. in health and physical education, a B.S. in health and physical...
Anthony Mychal
- Anthony Mychal is a writer, athlete consultant, teacher and coach. He has a M.S. in health and physical education, a B.S. in health and physical...
Must See
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,371,676
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 8,002,550
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 8,081,467

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,016,699
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,631
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,354
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,717
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,362
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,773
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,004
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,111

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Pole Vault Drills for the Swing, Rock Back, and Turn The pole vault swing, rock back, and turn are the transitions that convert the horizontal forces...

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

QB Skills and Drills: How to Master the Bubble Screen

QB Skills and Drills: How to Master the Bubble Screen

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

The Football Route Tree, Explained

The Football Route Tree, Explained

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

YardBarker