How to Dunk This Year

STACK Expert Alan Stein lays out a 5-part art prescription to help you improve your vertical jump and literally take your game to the next level.

Blake Griffin Dunk

Photo: AP

So, you want to learn how to dunk this year. That's an ambitious and admirable goal. But if you work hard and follow a solid training program, it may be possible.

However, unlike many of the vertical jump con artists out there, I won't guarantee you will be able to dunk or that you can have a 40-inch vertical. The reality is, not everyone has the potential.

Sorry, but it's true.

Some players simply don't have the right type of muscle fibers and biomechanics needed to get above the rim. They can work at it their entire life, but it just may not be possible.

Good news? You can still train to jump higher and be more explosive on the court.

Here are five steps to help you literally take your game to the next level.

1. Get Strong

Strength is the ability to produce force. The more force you can create against the ground, the higher you can jump. You need to progressively work all of your major muscle groups, especially your legs and hips. The Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (shown below) is one of, if not the best exercises for basketball players to develop these critical muscle groups.

You also need a strong upper body. Yes, even though your legs and hips are the main drivers of a jump, a strong upper body generates momentum to help you jump higher. Here's one of my favorite exercises I use with my players.

 2. Get Powerful

Strength doesn't do you much good if you're slow. You also need to develop power, which is the ability to exert maximum strength quickly and forcefully. This is achieved through a variety of plyometric drills, such as the eight movements shown below, in which you load your muscles and explode up into a jump. Notice that plyometrics are essentially controlled jumps.

3. Get Mobile

Mobility refers to the ability to move your joints through a full range of motion. This indirectly increases jumping height, because you'll be able to use your entire range of motion to produce power.

To put this into perspective, try jumping out of a half Squat. Notice that you probably don't go all that high. Now jump out of a full Squat position and notice how a full range of motion dramatically increases your jump height.

Try the following yoga routine for basketball players once or twice per week to enhance your mobility.

4. Get Balanced

Your ability to jump efficiently and effectively is dictated by your balance. Better balance allows you to establish a solid base on the floor ground so you can maximize your power.

Another benefit of improving your balance? You'll decrease your risk of rolling your ankle when coming down from a jump or when changing directions.

To improve your balance, it's best to regularly strengthen your feet and ankles with the following exercises.

5. Get Footwork

This may seem counter-intuitive, but footwork does come into play when jumping. You need to be able to jump off two feet, one foot and from a variety of different foot positions.

The only way to improve any skill is to practice it. Footwork is a skill. So, you must practice it in the same manner as you play.

In order for these 5 tips to work, you have to make sure you train hard, train smart and train consistently.

If you would like a free 10-Week Vertical Jump Training Program, please download the Stronger Team mobile app.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock