The ability to dunk depends on a number of factors, some of which are out of your control. The taller you are, for example, the bigger the advantage you have. You can, however, train to improve your vertical leap, which in turn will get you closer to the 10-foot rim and increases your chances of being able to dunk. Box jumps are considered a plyometric activity. A type of explosive exercise, plyometrics are effective at building power in your legs.
Building Power with Plyometrics
The greater the power in your legs, the higher you’ll be able to jump. According to a 2007 review published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, plyometrics are effective at increasing your lower-body power and vertical leap. They’re effective because the exercises train your neuromuscular system, allowing your muscles to contract more quickly and explosively. To be a plyometric activity, the exercise must involve a brief period of stretching, followed by an explosive contraction.
Box jumps are a compound exercise that require your glutes, quadriceps and calves to work together to propel your body up off the ground. Stand facing a plyo box and position your feet so that they’re shoulder-width apart. Crouch down slightly into a quarter squat. This stretches your glutes, quadriceps and calves, essentially loading them up so they can contract more forcefully. Explode into a maximum-height jump and land softly with both feet atop the box. Step down from the box and set your feet for the next repetition. As your vertical jump increases, progress to a taller plyo box.
Box jumps and other plyometric exercises should only be incorporated into your workouts one or two days per week. The exercises are intense and place a significant amount of stress on your neuromuscular system and musculoskeletal structures. Your body needs about 72 hours of rest in between session to fully recover. Before box jumps, perform a 10- to 15-minute dynamic warm-up to prepare your muscles. Perform two or three sets of 10 repetitions, giving your muscles one to three minutes of rest between sets. You want to feel completely recovered before starting a set. If you play competitively, keep in mind your practice and game schedule when incorporating box jumps into your regimen so your legs aren’t fatigued when it’s time for competition.
Having an adequate vertical leap is just one component to being able to dunk. Dunking requires coordination, timing and skill. Therefore, along with box jumps and other plyometrics, fit in regular bouts of dunking practice into your regimen. The basketball training site iHoops.com recommends beginning your dunking training by practicing without a ball and trying to grip the rim. Once you can do that, move onto the one-handed dunk. If you’re right handed, hold the ball in your right hand as you take off from your left foot. Once you’ve mastered the one-handed dunk, begin to practice the more advanced two-handed dunk.
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