Simple Vertical Leap Exercises to Improve Dunking

Basketball player making jump shot
A man is dunking a basketball. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Dunking in basketball requires explosive vertical leaping ability, but with some training many players can see an increase in the height they can achieve on their jump. In order to train for dunking the muscles need to be strong, but they also need to be trained for quick, explosive bursts of power.

Deep Knee Bends

Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart. Bend at the knees while keeping your upper body straight. Bend until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold that position for about one second before slowly rising back to the standing position. InsideHoops.com recommends beginning with 15 repetitions and increasing to 20 or 30 repetitions as the exercises become easier.

Jumping Rope

Both Inside Hoops and BestBasketballDrills.com note that jumping rope can be very beneficial for training the calf and ankle muscles for explosive jumping power. Inside Hoops notes that it is an easy exercise to do while watching television.

Deep Knee Bend With Jump

This exercise is similar to the deep knee bends listed above, but is performed by bending the knees until your bottom almost touches the ground. Instead of slowly rising from the crouching position, burst up with as much power as possible, jumping as high as possible from the crouching position. After landing from the jump immediately crouch down until the bottom almost touches the ground and repeat. Repeat 15 times at the beginning and increase to 20 or 30 repetitions when possible. This exercise is great for building explosive power in the ankles, calves, knees and thighs.

Stair Running

This exercise is often performed at a stadium and Best Basketball Drills notes that it can help build jumping ability as well as stamina and leg strength. To maximize the vertical jumping impact of the stair run, try to “get air” by leaping from one stair to the next using a bounding run. To increase the intensity of stair running, skip one or two steps between leaps.

Explosive Leaps

Best Basketball Drills suggests performing this exercise in a park or on an open field with a soft, grassy surface. It can be performed using one or two legs. Jump as high as possible using only one leg and quickly jump off the other leg after landing to perform the one-legged version of this exercise. Two-legged jumps are performed by starting in the squat position and exploding into a vertical jump from the crouched position. These exercises should be repeated 10 to 15 times and are great for building explosive jumping ability.

Box Jumps

Set six, 16-inch sturdy boxes in a row, 24 inches apart. Start at one end and face the first box. Lower your body into a shallow squat, jump up onto the first box and then quickly jump down between the first two boxes. Without pausing, jump up onto the next box, jump down between the boxes and continue until you get to the end of the row. Turn around and jump back to the start. Repeat three times.

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