We’ve all watched in awe as brilliant athletes slam-dunk the basketball into the hoop and then land triumphantly on their feet. What we do not realize is the amount of hard work, training and practice that goes into achieving that one moment of magic. Furthermore, we think it might not be impossible for a relatively short person to be able to pull it off. The truth is, with the right kind of training, this seemingly impossible task can certainly be achieved.

If we were to analyze the sequence of events that go into a slam-dunk, we would be able to identify the different body parts that come in to play. Typically, a slam dunk begins with a short run whilst the player dribbles the ball, an extension of the arms, then a quick, high-powered jump as the arms stretch, the dunk, and then the landing. It is clear that one must have strong quadriceps, hamstrings and calves for strong legs that can boost the body for the jump. Two other areas of the body that need to be focused on are the core and the glutes, which help in balance and powering the body’s vertical jump.

To strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, you need to do leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls and calf raises. For strengthening the glutes, one must practice doing the squats with various weights (under proper guidance, of course).

Another set of exercises that will help in boosting the body’s ability to jump higher are plyometric exercises. These include squat jumps (stand with your feet shoulder width apart, squat down and then jump as high as possible; repeating the sequence as fast as you can manage), lateral jumps (stand on the side of a low bench and jump over to the other side, quickly jumping back to the original side; repeating as fast as possible) and power skipping (skipping with knees raised as high as possible). Another favoured exercise is to tie ankle weights around the ankles and practicing jogging and jumping as high as possible. This training will need to be pursued with for at least a couple of months before the muscles have the necessary strength to power a high jump.

Now, to practice the dunk itself. Choose a side from which you would like to practice approaching the basket so that you can focus only on running and dunking from one side first. The other side comes later. Start with, only practicing running up to the basket and timing your jump properly so that you can touch the rim of basket. Practice this over and over so as to know instinctively when to leap. Next, practice dunking a tennis ball. Focus on the timing and the form of your body as you grasp an object and make the leap. Only once you are certain with the tennis ball should you graduate to practicing with a regular sized basketball. Once there, focus on the inertia of the ball and the way your palms negate gravity while dunking. Repeat with approaching the basket from the other side.

Remember, form and practicing is important but what will help short guys the most are strong and powerful legs. So build them like boulder by training hard.

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