If you’re not over six feet tall, you can still learn how to dunk a basketball. Look at Earl Boykins – at 5′-5″ tall, he’s the second shortest player in the NBA (after Muggsey Bogues at 5′-3″) and the lightest at 133 pounds. And, Earl Boykins can dunk a basketball. So, height isn’t absolutely critical for dunking success, although it sure can help. But, height isn’t necessary.
So, how does Earl Boykins and other basketball players who may not be over six feet tall slam dunk the ball? They have mastered the vertical jump – plain and simple. If you’re wanting to learn how to dunk a basketball, you too can learn what it takes for that leap into the air. To help you get started, here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years that have improved my dunking skills.
Have you heard about plyometric exercise? Plyometrics essentially bridge the gap between speed and strength training. They include sport-specific training and trains the muscles, connective tissues and nervous system to perform the stretch-shortening cycle. What exactly can plyometrics do to help you dunk a basketball? They can help train your muscles not only in strength, but in a reduced reaction time as well. And, this reaction time is critical for a great vertical jump.
Exercise Those Calf Muscles
Calf muscles provide a critical level of strength and balance when jumping. Granted, the larger muscle groups in the legs do provide the majority of strength, but great calves can give a few extra inches of height. Another thought on calf muscles, when sprinting down the court to set up for the slam dunk, these muscles provide the “dig” to accelerate. If you don’t have the speed, you’ll never make the dunk – that’s a fact.
Practice Those Squats
To build up the strength and “spring” in your jump, squat exercises are key. You may have a great reaction time, but if the large muscles (quadriceps) in your legs aren’t super-strong, your jumps won’t amount to “squat.” You don’t need any special equipment to do a proper squat, just keep your back straight and slowly bend at the knees. You want to go down at least until your thighs are parallel to the ground – then go back up again. You may keep your hands in front of your body for balance. Do this exercise for 8 – 12 reps, 3 sets, every other day.
Of course, there are many different exercises to help you fully develop your slam dunk. But these tips are a good basis for starting your conditioning. The main things to remember – no matter what program you choose to help you jump higher, you must make it a regular part of your life. Practice, practice and then more practice. Then, you’ll begin to see great improvement in your basketball slam dunk.
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