Do you want to learn how to shoot a basketball?Only a small fraction… well under 1% of the earth’s population throughout the history of all mankind… has been able to shoot a basketball. Doubt me? Think about it…most men are under 5’10″…that means only men who are tall or fly high have much of a chance of dunking. women… there are less than 10+ women who have immersed themselves in a game EVER at the college or pro level! In other words, diving is HARD and RARE… but if that’s your dream, I’m here to help you reach your goal.
First, how realistic is it for you to learn to nail? If you’re a woman, it’s going to be pretty tough unless you’re an elite athlete. For men, you have your best chance if you are between the ages of 15 and 30, as this is the physical peak for men. Dunking is no walk in the park, so trying to do this when you’re “a little over the hill” may be more than you want to try. Likewise, if you’re young, you can try… but just understand that you may need a few more years to mature before you reach your peak and be able to take one down; in other words… don’t get discouraged too soon!
Second, what does it take to shoot?Here are the pieces of the dipping puzzle:
1. Good gene pool. I’m going to put this first as it really helps. If your dad could dunk, you have a real advantage over most people. Being tall of course helps, but “tall” is relative. Most slam dunk competition winners…including NBA slam dunk competitions…are 6’2″ to 6’6″. That’s tall, of course, but not gigantic. If you’re under 6 feet tall, don’t be discouraged. Spud Webb and Nate Robinson won the NBA Slam Dunk competition…and Spud is 5’6″ and Nate is 5’9″ (which I don’t think is true…he looks shorter than that!).
2. Make yourself strong.Just like a rocket needs a great engine to take off, you need a great engine to take off and dive. If you don’t dive in, get on a good weight training program that will help you progress. You can go to the website at the end of the article for recommendations for great programs. The important part to keep in mind is this: Strength is the easiest of all the pieces of the vertical jump puzzle to train, but it’s the one most often ignored.
3. Get bouncy. If you look at people who can dunk, a lot of them are skinny. That may seem like it contradicts what I said in #2 (Become strong) but it’s not really a contradiction. Jumping high is made up not only of strength, but also of what is called reactive or plyometric capacity. Think of a rubber band… when you pull it back, it shoots out farther, right? Plyometric skill is what makes you throw your arm back if you want to throw a baseball… you throw the ball back and then throw it in the other direction. Why do you return the ball in the opposite direction to where you want to throw it? Because you instinctively know that if you don’t, you won’t throw it very far. You’re like that rubber band, quickly stretching your arm back so you can shoot that baseball. Your legs work the same way… you bend over before you jump. How well you do this is a compilation of many factors, but generally falls under the heading of ‘reactive’ or plyometric skills. And the good news is that these skills can be trained… you can become more bouncy. How do you become more bouncy? There are many programs out there. I like some and some are a waste of time in general. You can follow the web link at the end of this article for more resources to study this topic.
4. Practice jumping.This is pretty basic, but it matters. The training principle is called SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) and what it means in everyday language is that you get better at what you specifically practice. So if you want to run fast, you need to practice running fast. If you want to jump high, you should practice jumping high! I know this sounds a lot like common sense, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get sidetracked when you start looking at the millions of training programs out there. The more you practice something, the more neural pathways are created in your brain. This causes your muscles to fire faster and more powerfully since your brain knows exactly what you want it to do for the practice.
One fun thing you can do is practice diving with balls of different sizes. Start by trying to sink a golf ball. Once you do, move on to dunking a tennis ball. Then go dunk a baseball. Achieve that goal and then try to dunk a volleyball. Once you can dunk a volleyball, your dream of dunking a basketball is within your grasp!
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