Less than 1 percent of the population can dunk a basketball, and even then, it is understating the conditions under which an individual has the ability to dunk. Dunking on a 10 foot regulation hoop for most people is not achievable unless they want to dedicate a lot of time and effort to the craft.
To put the statistics into perspective, I will list a couple of factors that may make you more likely to be in the 1 percentile of ‘dunkers’.
Height would probably be the first thing someone would list as a variable that may increase the likelihood of dunking if the individual’s height is higher. Well, statistically, 14.5 percent of the US population is 6 feet or taller. Also, the average US population male height is 5 feet 9.5 inches.
Outside of height, wingspan and standing reach, also known as arm length can help you dunk. For the average male height of 5’9, having an average length of arms would give you a 7’7 standing reach, under 8ft.
Vertical jump is another factor to consider. Let’s look at the averages. The average male vertical jump is around 16-23 inches, with 23 being the rare part of the spectrum.
What does this mean?
Combining both factors and their averages it is clear, to be able to dunk, you can’t be average, because it is no average feat. As mentioned before, less than one percent can dunk. Just looking at the data for height alone, it puts a very low percentage of people that will have an easier time dunking.
The statistics do not consider something extremely important. You can dunk despite the odds.
The average height cannot be changed, that we know. Wingspan and standing reach cannot change either. What can be changed, and drastically so, is vertical. Even the least genetically gifted person can work for a 36 inch vertical in a couple of years of proper training.
What does a 36 inch vertical give you?
A 36 inch vertical is enough to dunk for a 5’9, average wingspan basketball player. It’s actually an inch more than you need, as a 7’7 standing reach would require a 35 inch vertical to dunk. The best part is a 36 inch vertical is completely achievable for anyone.
That also does not mean if you are shorter than 5’9 you can’t dunk. Someone who is 5’7 may have longer arms, or might have to train to get a 40 inch vertical but possible as well.
Whatever hand you are dealt with might make it easier or harder, but dunking is achievable for anyone who puts in the time and effort.
Do you need some direction to dunking?
Here are a few key tips that once I learned in my dunk journey, my progress accelerated. I finally had direction in the dunking journey, and it allowed me to tunnel vision the process.
Can you lose fat?
Unless you are around 10 to 15 percent body fat, you have room to lose. Fat will limit your dunking journey. Excess fat is similar to strapping weights on your body, it will hold you back.
A concept people have known, but fail to acknowledge, just eat less. You do not even have to eat completely clean, and eat that much less. Start incrementally cutting calories. To do that, you must first understand how many calories you are eating in a day.
Cut about 100 to 200 calories, wait a couple of weeks for your body to adjust and repeat the process. Before you know it, you’ll be eating 800 less calories a day, and lose 10 percent body fat.
But be sure as you are cutting calories, you are not cutting nutritional value out of your diet. Macronutrients are your friend. Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are all necessities, with protein being emphasised.
Can you get stronger?
Unless you can do lifts like the squat and can lift 1.5 times your bodyweight for reps, you are lacking in the strength department and have room to grow.
Squatting is the main exercise of anyone trying to get better leg strength, something you need in jumping and your dunk journey. However, there are a few things worth mentioning to make sure you get the most out of the exercise.
Proper form is important. From matters because you do not want to get injured, and you could be leaving gains off the table. Your form should be lower than 90 degrees, attempt to place your butt on the ground without doing so.
Also, make sure if you cannot lift the weight with your legs, you do not use your back. This can cause severe back pain and injury that can set you back for months.
To avoid back injury risk, use the front squat variation. It can be hard at first for beginners, but it is harder because it works more muscles and is in my opinion, a superior movement to the back squat.
The front squat hits the core and hamstrings harder, requires more stamina, and is safer. If you can’t lift the weight, you just drop it right in front of you.
Can you improve your jumping form?
Part of jumping higher on your dunk journey is repetition. Your body will become more efficient and better at jumping the more you do it.
You typically want to work on one specific jump technique or form to get accustomed to. Here are the five to consider.
Two foot approach, left foot then right foot
Two foot approach, right foot then left
One foot approach off of right foot
One foot approach off of left foot
Standing jump, no approach
The two foot approach entails a penultimate step, where you take a big, powerful stride before the one then two finish.
The one foot approach entails full sprinting into a powerful one foot jump. Focus on getting used to the torque and speed and controlling it.
Finally, focusing on the standing jump can be helpful, but just focusing on your standing jump will never be as high as a good one or two foot approach jump. Only focus on this if you are taller.
Do you want to be a part of the 1% club?
Less than 1 percent of people can dunk. Being a 1 percenter is hard work, but direction and dedication can get you there.
If you want more direction, my program can help. It not only focuses on all things vertical to achieve your dunking goals, but has everything basketball, from how to effectively run a pick and roll, to reading defenses. It also includes skill related drills and tutorials to add to your basketball bag.