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How to Dunk Better

There's more to dunking than just jumping high (which is important, of course). You've got to be able to get to the basket in order to show off your vertical. This means either moving without the ball (for an alley-oop), or being able to drive to the basket yourself. To drive to the basket yourself you've got to have decent ball-handling skills. In getting to the rim for your dunk, there will be four aspects to dunking:

Get an adjustable rim to practice dunking on @
  1. The approach
  2. The take-off (Jump)
  3. Holding the Basketball
  4. Your Vertical/Hang Time

Going along with these four components, then, here are a few ways to increase your dunking ability:

  1. Practice on a Lower Rim
  2. Increase Your Vertical
  3. Improve Your Grip/Finger Strength
  4. Increase Your Strength

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Your approach is basically how you get close enough to the basket to dunk without traveling and with enough space to jump up. Going along with this is your take-off of jump. You can jump off of one foot or both, depending on your preference and the situation. Generally speaking, you should be able to jump a little higher and extend yourself further if you jump off of one foot. This isn't always the case, though. Some people actually do jump better off of two feet than off of one. My ankle injuries have made this true for me. I used to only be able to dunk when I jumped off of one foot, back when I first started dunking. Then I tore a ligament in my left ankle and because of the weaker ankle wasn't able to jump as high off of one foot. Now I jump better off of two.

Holding the Basketball
After you take off, there's the matter of holding on to the basketball well enough to get it over the rim and into the hoop. Preferably you should hold onto the ball with one hand. This allows you to stretch your body a little farther and get higher above the rim. Of course, some may not be able to hold onto the ball with one hand very well yet, so you can also hold onto the ball with two hands. The disadvantage to this is that you can't extend yourself as far, but the advantage is that you can hold onto the ball better and go up stronger with it. Of course, to use both hands you'll need to be able to jump a little higher to get the ball higher (since you can't stretch as far as you can with one hand)...

Vertical/Hang Time
Of course, you've got to have a decent vertical to dunk (unless you can almost reach above the rim without jumping). Your vertical is the last component of being able to dunk, but it is very important because you have to be able to outjump your opponents and have the confidence to dunk in a game without worrying about missing it. Getting rejected by the rim would be the worst!

Alright, I've made you wait long enough. On to things you can do to be able to dunk better...

Practice on a Lower Rim

Practicing on a lower rim is THE best way to increase your ability to dunk. It's the only exercise that incorporates all of the components of dunking: the approach, the take-off, holding the ball, and your vertical. Besides that, it's really, really fun and doesn't feel like work! All you have to do is find a rim that you can dunk on regularly, but have to put some effort into dunking. An adjustable rim would be ideal, because then once you can dunk on a certain height easily, you can adjust the height up to the next level to continue to improve your vertical and dunking ability.

Once you find your lower rim, or have your adjustable rim, then you simply just practice dunking on the rim. Practice your approach dribbling up to the rim and then taking off to dunk. Then you get used to holding the ball while you're jumping and getting it over the rim and through the hoop. And, because you're using all of the muscles you use to jump, you will be increasing your vertical in the process with your body weight (or more).

If you are having trouble holding on to the ball, then you can start with an intermediate basketball and work your way up to the regulation basketball. Also check out the "Grip" section below, it will help you to hold onto the ball while going up for a dunk.

To increase your vertical from this exercise even more, then you can get a Hypergravity Weight Belt. You just wear the belt with added weight comfortably around your waist while you're practicing dunking. This will make your jumping muscles work a little more and increase your gains.

You can get a Hypergravity Weight Belt HERE. Also get great deals (including free or discounted shipping) on portable and in-ground adjustable rims at You can lower the rim to practice dunking on it, and then adjust it higher as you increase your vertical and ability to dunk. For practicing dunking, an in-ground system is more ideal than a portable rim because it's safer with less of a chance of tipping over. Type in "in ground" on the hoops store to the right to filter for in-ground systems.

Hypergravity Belt: $100-$150

Once you get used to the approach, jump, and holding onto the ball, also practice on a lower rim against some defense. This will help you to get used to avoiding the defense both on your approach to the basket and while you're in the air. It will also help you get used to some contact and remaining balanced and focused to finish the dunk while you're in the air.

Increase Your Vertical

Obviously there are a number of ways you can increase your vertical, like weight training, plyometrics, vertical programs, and traininng aids like vertical training shoes and weighted belts. You can find more information about each on the vertical training page. But make sure to check out the information below first. Just like the information above about practicing on a lower rim helps you to not only increase your vertical, but also increase your ability to dunk, the information below will also increase your dunking abilities.

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Improve Your Grip/Finger Strength

A better grip will help you dunk better because you'll be able to hold onto the basketball better while going up for the dunk. This can be especially helpful if you aren't able to hold the ball with one hand (palm the basketball). If you can use one hand then you can extend your body farther and get the ball higher above the rim.

There's a few ways you can improve your grip. One is to do fingertip push-ups if you're able to. This improves your finger strength and, therefore, your grip. All you do is a regular push-up, except instead of having your hands flat on the floor you're going to hold yourself up with your fingertips. This also has the added benefit of improving your chest and arm strength because you're getting the benefit of the push-up as well.

Another thing that you can do is to find something heavy that you can hold by "pinching" your fingers and thumb together on each side. Ideally you can do this with a weight disc, but make sure not to hold it with the grip holes. You want to hold it just by the sides with your fingers to get the benefit of a stronger grip and stronger fingers.

Finally, probably the best thing you can do is to practice ball handling drills with a heavy training basketball. (Go to the "Basketball" link.) I say this is the best thing you can do because you get the benefit of better dribbling skills (which you will need to get yourself to the basket in order to dunk) along with the stronger grip. Just perform dribbling drills with this heavy basketball and you'll eventually be able to hold the basketball better while you're improving your dunking (and dribbling) abilities.

Increase Your Strength

Increasing your strength will also help your dunking ability a couple of ways. For one, stronger legs and a stronger core help you to have a better vertical, which helps you to dunk easier and better. Second, when you're in a game trying to dunk on someone's mug, there's probably going to be some contact, whether it be body, arm, or whatever. If you can jump high but are easily "bumped" off balance, then you're going to have difficulty dunking. You have to be able to take some contact and play through it to finish the play. Some great strength exercises for basketball are:
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  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pull Ups
  • Bench Presses and/or Push-Ups
    • Incorporate Fingertip Push-Ups to improve your grip
  • Rows
  • Any Core Strengthening Exercises (for better balance)

Dunking Better Conclusion

Hopefully these tips help you understand the different ways you can become a better dunker. Whatever you do just remember to stick with it, as it takes time and effort to get to where you want to be. Most of all, though, HAVE FUN! Dunking is one of the funnest and most fulfilling things you can do in basketball, so while you're getting better at it, make sure you're still enjoying it!

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Vertical Improvement Tips
Improver your vertical to jump higher than your opponents and dunk easier.

Dribbling Drills to Help You Get to the Basket
Use these ball handling drills to be able to drive to the basket better for that monster slam. Also use them with a heavy training ball to improve your grip and ability to dunk.

Core Exercises for Increased Athleticism
Better core strength helps you in a number of ways, including being able to jump higher, stay on balance when contact is made, and being stronger overall.

Sports Supplements
Use some sports supplements to increase the effects of your training and dunk even better!

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