How to Dunk (Simple Progression to Dunk a Basketball)

Every basketball athlete wants to dunk. And each day I have athletes hit me up with messages like: I can jump high but I can’t dunk… Or… Can you tell me how to jump higher to dunk a basketball?

I receive both of these messages at least once a day.

And today, I wanted address both of those questions. Whether you need to know how to jump higher to dunk a basketball, or you can jump high but can’t dunk… I have you covered.

Below I’m going to address both concerns, then I’m going to share a simple progression to help you dunk a lot sooner.

I Can Jump High But I Can’t Dunk

This happens to a lot of guys.

The reason this happens is that most guys don’t realize that dunking is a skill.

A few years ago, Pro Dunker Andrew Pickwell came down to train at my facility, and he shared this sentiment with me.

He was throwing down reverse slams, 360 dunks, and pounded tomahawk dunks through the rim. And he couldn’t do any of that without actually practicing those moves.

A higher vertical DOES help with your ability to throw down these dunks…

But, many guys go head first into learning how to jump higher to dunk without actually PRACTICING the skill.

Dunking is a feat that doesn’t take JUST your ability to jump high. It also requires body control and coordination to ensure you to jump too far out, take off at the right time, and can control your momentum as you approach the basket.

Fix: I Can Jump High But I Can’t Dunk (Simple Dunking Progression)

The simple fix is to practice.

Practice and hone your approach, then practice the dunk itself.

If you can only grab rim, then practice approaching the rim from different angles. As you get better, try dunking a tennis ball, then a soccer ball, then a volleyball… Building up to a regular basketball.

This will help you immensely.

Additionally, if you want to learn how to throw down fancier dunks, lower the rim.

Pro Dunker Andrew Pickwell told me this was the secret to his dunking success. If he wasn’t able to swallow his pride and lower the rim, he never would’ve been throwing down the jaw-dropping dunks he is today.

I’ll also share some plyometrics that will help your body control below. You can just scroll down  to see them.

How to Jump Higher to Dunk

The other concern I get a lot is how to jump higher to dunk.

Most people don’t know that vertical jump training takes progression.

I use progression in my jump training program The Flight System, and I use it with all my athletes who need a higher vertical jump.

If you don’t know, a progression is layering physical qualities on top of each other to build your physical abilities and increase the stimulus the body is exposed to. This ensures continuous vertical jump adaptations AND provides continuous challenges for the body to overcome.

(To See a General Vertical Jump Progression See This Blog Post)

This is why I can’t stand videos and posts like “top 5 vertical jump exercises”. Because an exercise alone won’t help your vertical.

A progression will.

And that’s what I’m about to share with you… A vertical jump progression that will help you jump higher so you can throw down violent dunks.

Fix: How to Jump Higher to Dunk (Simple Plyometric Progression)

Kneeling Single Leg Box Jump

The reason I like the kneeling single leg box jump is because I’m putting the muscle on much further stretch than I would for a regular single leg jump. This builds power through an extended range of motion and serves as a good foundational movement.

This movement is also pure single leg power. There’s no way your back leg can get involved.

Single Leg Approach Box Jump

The next progression is a single leg approach box jump. This move is kind of similar to how you approach the rim for a dunk, except you’ll take one step and soar off the ground. Make sure to land two feet on the box and stick your landing.

You can even hold a basketball in your hand to make it more sport specific.

Resisted Single Leg Approach Box Jump

The next obvious progression is to add resistance with the same movement. No need to worry about the medicine ball throwing your technique off. It’ll only make you more powerful when you remove the resistance

Overhead Medicine Ball Single Leg Approach Box Jump

This is the most difficult and advanced progression. Holding a ball overhead may look easy, but it’s actually deceivingly difficult. It requires serious core stabilization, and tests your ability to transfer force through the trunk.

BONUS: Strength Progression to Dunk

Whenever I answer the question of how to jump higher to dunk, I always include strength progressions. You’ll need a combination unilateral and bilateral strength exercises, but to keep things simple I’m going to share a Bulgarian Split Squat progression.

I like to use a series of different variations to stress the body in different ways.

To keep things simple here’s the variations I would use each training block:

Training Block 1: KB Bulgarian Split Squat (KB in Opposite Hand of the Working Leg for Stability)

Training Block 2: DB Bulgarian Split Squat

Block 3: Dead Stop DB Bulgarian Split Squat to Pad (Controlled Eccentric to Pad, Pause on Pad, Explode Up)

Block 4: Barbell Bulgarian Superset With Bulgarian Split Squat Jumps

This is a sample progression that would  help an athlete build the base of strength that will help him dunk.

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