How To Dunk A Basketball (A 2023 Guide)

How to dunk a basketball How To Dunk A Basketball: A Brief Guide

So, you want to learn how to dunk a basketball. Maybe it is because you want to impress your friends. Or it could be you want to add a skill to your skill set, or you want to go over the fundamentals even though you already know how. Regardless of why you want to, the how of dunking is relatively simple.

With enough practice, you may be able to show off like Dominique Wilkins or Zach Lavine (Both dunk contest champions and world-renowned NBA players). The information here is designed to give you a brief overview of the art of dunking and help you achieve that very goal.

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Dunking Off One Foot

Dunking off of one foot is very entertaining to watch and is athletically challenging. This is because of the style of the dunk; you launch high into the air, often very quickly off of one foot. You start by making a cut or simply running toward the hoop.

The second to last step is crucial because it converts some of that forward momentum into vertical jumping power. This is because you get very low before you spring almost directly up. Then, you want to firmly plant your foot when taking your last step.

The takeoff step needs to be explosive to generate enough force to drive your body upwards because your momentum should already push you forward. Once you spring upwards, you want to glide directly towards the rim until you can snap your wrist, ball in hand, inside of the hoop.

One-foot dunking is more explosive than 2-foot dunking, as well as being able to cut through defenders much easier. One-foot dunking is also easier to perform because you do not need to create as much space.

One-foot dunking is more stressful on your body because you are putting more weight on one ankle and knee instead of two in two-foot dunking. One-foot dunking also requires more practice because you have to keep your momentum under control. Go too fast where you are out of control; your vertical jump will suffer.

Exercises that will help you learn how to dunk off one foot are exercises that help your vertical jump and hand strength. For example, you can do single-leg box jumps, which is jumping off one leg onto a raised platform.

Having trouble gripping the basketball? You might want to try practicing by palming smaller balls until you can palm a regular-sized basketball. Another great tip is to buy handgrip strengtheners’ to build up hand and forearm muscles, which will make it easier to palm the basketball.

You can also do farmer walks to get more grip strength. Farmer is an exercise where you simply walk 10 yards or so with very heavy dumbbells and back. For a man who weighs 200 pounds, it’s recommended to start from 50 pounds in each hand.


  • Quicker lift off
  • Able to cover more distance when in the air
  • More natural to perform in-game


  • Need to be able to palm the ball since most on-legged dunks are one-handed too
  • Heavier athletes may have an issue with one-foot jumping due to the extra weight on one knee

Dunking Off Two Feet

Dunking off two feet can be a very dominant show of power. It is a skill that never ceases to entertain or impress people; just look at prime Blake Griffin, but it must be done with practice. To begin, you start off by running up toward the rim, which builds momentum and speed.

Then the second to last step, or the “penultimate step,” is taken, which is a long step that also lowers your body closer to the ground. While you bring your other foot to take your last step, you also want to swing your arm(s) from behind you to in front of you, which gives you more momentum and brings your body closer to the ground.

Lastly, You want to plant your feet in front of your body and then swing your body (along with your arms) into takeoff. Takeoff is directly propelling your body upwards toward the rim.

Now, when your hands are above the rim, you want to snap the ball into the hoop and ensure that you land safely. This is the most critical part because many athletes have suffered horrible injuries purely because they landed wrongly after takeoff.

Do you want a more in-depth look a two-foot jumping? Check out this article too.

Dunking off two feet is very powerful, as you are pushing off both feet instead of one. That being said, two-foot generally allows for more hang time. Two-foot dunking is also safer because if one foot slips, your other foot can catch your weight. Two-foot dunking goes hand in hand with alley-oop dunks as well. Two-foot jumping allows for a greater variety of finishes for alley-oop dunks.

Two-foot dunking requires more space. It also takes more coordination because both feet must be in sync. This style also is more dangerous because you must be in control.

One exercise that you can do to perfect this dunk is jumping at the rim to grab it. You want to jump and take off towards the rim, grab it and safely jump down, then repeat. This will help you practice using your arms for momentum, as well as help your form. Soon you will be ready to include the ball.

Another exercise is doing max jumps. This is simply planting your feet and using your arms to get as high as possible off each jump.

Gauging your max jumps helps you know what your limits are and how far off you can expect to get when you’re trying to dunk in real time. This is a great exercise to measure your vertical too.


  • More powerful than one-foot dunking
  • Easier to dunk the ball with two hands
  • Easier on your knees


  • Takes more time to take off; therefore easier to block
  • More difficult to do in-game

The Alley-Oop

An Alley-oop is a dunk made by one player who catches the ball mid-air from a teammate. It’s an electrifying play that involves coordination and athleticism. You can also perform an alley-oop to yourself by throwing the ball off the backboard.

The amazing thing about alley-ooping is that this play involves all of the fundamentals of basketball in a single move.

To practice this, you will need a friend first, because someone has to toss you the ball. You can toss the ball to yourself off the backboard but this is a lot harder. Timing is everything when it comes to Alley-oops. You must time your jump with the pass no matter if it is off the backboard or the ball is tossed toward the rim.

You will need momentum, so practice running and planting two feet, then explode to the rim, so when you are in-game, you can shock everyone with a monstrous slam off an alley-oop.


  • You can swing both arms to increase your momentum and jump higher
  • You do not need to palm the ball
  • Can jump off one or two feet


  • Need a good pass
  • Timing needs to be on point

Two-Foot vs. One-Foot

When it comes to which dunk is better, it truly comes down to your style of play. Each type of dunk has its advantages, but each is equally admirable. One-foot dunking is faster and more efficient.

Two-foot dunking, on the other hand, is more powerful and emphatic. The beauty is that if you can do one, it’s easy to learn the other, and you can choose which one you like more. When practicing either, it’s always beneficial to watch someone else do it first.

Whether going over the fundamentals of basketball or performing a show-stopping dunk, “mental reps,” as they are called, are always beneficial to learning, and the best professionals do them constantly to improve their game. This is why athletes always watch tapes of the players they want to be like. Mastering their every move so they can be just like them.

There are a couple of things you should keep in mind when deciding which technique might be best for you. Let’s take a look at what these are.

  • Weight: most heavy athletes will gravitate to two-footed jumping because it is less stressful on their knees, tendons, and joints.
  • Body Type: If you are tall and lengthy or skinny, you are better off jumping off one foot rather than two. You can get off the ground quicker and cover more distance. On the other hand, if you are more muscular and heavier, you should jump off two feet. This will be easier on your joints and knees.
  • Age: Yes, surprisingly, this is a factor. As you get older one-footed jumping becomes harder. This is why you see all the old NBA players jump off two. If you are young, I would say below 30, you should jump off one leg, and if you are above 30, look into jumping off two to reduce the risk for injury.

If you’re looking for the 5 Top Outdoor Basketballs of 2022, then read out this complete Guide.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Dunking is one of the most exciting things about watching basketball; it is one of the most unpredictable plays that everyone loves to see. With enough focus, dedication, and practice, you will be slammed dunking soon enough. Dunking and increasing your vertical has many benefits to your game in basketball.

If you start to practice and you are missing dunks, do not worry; you may need to add just one extra inch or gain more control. One thing that is certain is that the more you practice, the easier it will get. Just keep at it!

The technique is vital, no matter if you are jumping off one or two feet. If you have the proper technique, it can increase your vertical by 2-3 inches. If you are leaning towards two-footed jumping, check this article out.

Whether you like jumping off one foot and making dunks look elegant or jumping off two and showing off your true power, it’s up to you how you make basketball an art form.

If you want to know the honest answer to “Do you need a vertical jump trainer“, then click on this link to read the whole guide.

Taking Dunking To The Next Level

If you are here because you are struggling to increase your vertical. No matter how hard you trained. Have you ever wondered if there was some type of secret recipe?

Check out this program, Vert Shock. We did a full review of it here. It’s not a magical pill to make you jump like Michael Jordan, but with hard work and dedication, it will guide you to an amazing vertical that will blow spectators away.

Guaranteed to increase your vertical 9+ inches in just 8 weeks. The program gives you everything you need, from exercises to the diet you need to succeed in your vertical jumping journey.

Focusing on building and training your fast-twitch muscles, the program is designed for you to be able to jump higher and dunk on anyone that is in your way.

It is too much to go over here; that is why we did a complete review.