One of the most common questions most people ask me when it comes to playing basketball is… “How tall do you have to be to dunk?”
Truth to be told, there are a lot of factors regarding how tall you have to be to be able to dunk. For some, all you need is height because you will likely be closer to the rim than anybody else.
However, there are also certain cases wherein short players are capable of dunking.
For example, Spud Webb is known for not being able to reach 6 feet tall but has a tremendous vertical jumping ability.
In this article, I’ll discuss further how tall you must be to dunk a basketball and everything else associated with dunking and jumping.
What Is Standing Reach?
Standing reach is the height players can reach with just one arm while standing still on the ground.
This measurement is relatively easy as long as you are standing. Often, players only pay attention to height when discussing dunking ability.
However, one of the parameters to know if a basketball player can dunk is standing reach as well.
Of course, height is always considered, but standing reach also affects your jump height.
Simply put, if you are tall and have longer arms, this equals having a significant standing reach, which results in being able to dunk easily.
These two factors and being physically fit are huge advantages if you want to dunk comfortably.
If you look closer at the stats of NBA basketball players, you can mostly see their height, standing reach, and arm span.
What Is the Average Standing Reach of NBA Players?
In the NBA Draft Combine, basketball players’ average standing reach-to-height ratio is around 1.33.
Shockingly, despite players having incredible physical tools, it’s the same way for an average person.
Basketball players’ height is as important as their standing reach. In the NBA, you’ll notice that taller players generally have higher standing reach.
But that’s not the case if one player has longer arms than the other.
We’re trying to say that taller people might have an advantage in dunking a basketball, but arm length is also a major factor.
What Is Vertical Jump?
Being tall with long arms is a huge advantage. However, as mentioned earlier, it’s not the only thing you need if you want to dunk a basketball.
The other factor you have to consider is your vertical jump.
A person’s standing reach might be important for short players, but for anyone who is 6 feet below, your vertical jump might save you.
Why? Players emphasize vertical jumps because they can be trained, whereas standing reach and arm length can only be defined by genetics.
If you already have short arms and height, dunking might be extremely difficult for you to do.
But, if you do strength and weight training, as well as train hard, you can increase your chance of being able to dunk successfully.
The only problem is that the shorter you are in height and reach, the harder you must train to increase your maximum vertical jump.
So, for many basketball players out there, improving their vertical jumps to a significant level can help them reach their goal of being able to dunk.
In addition, measuring your vertical jump is done in two ways, standing and running.
Standing vertical jump is assessed by standing still or without a run-up while standing straight. On the other hand, a running vertical jump needs a running start.
While those two vertical jump measurements vary a lot in terms of execution, the best indicator for your ability to perform a slam dunk is best measured in your maximum vertical jump.
What Is the Average Vertical Jump of NBA Players?
The average vertical jump of players in the NBA is around 28 inches.
Certainly, other players are short but can jump significantly high, while tall players only need to jump a few inches to dunk because they are much closer to a full-sized basketball hoop.
How Tall Do You Have To Be To Dunk: Stages Of Difficulty
Height, vertical jump, and standing reach often go hand in hand. However, more often than not, that’s not the case.
Here’s a quick rundown of dunking difficulty about height.
Difficult (5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 9 inches)
While we’re not saying it is impossible, being able to dunk a basketball at this height can be extremely difficult, even for an NBA player.
Let’s assume you are 5 feet 9 inches tall; you will most likely have a standing reach near 7 feet 7 inches.
That means you will need a vertical jump of 29 inches to touch the rim of the basketball hoop.
However, that’s just a piece of the pie. If you want to dunk, you’ll also want to consider the ball, which means you need 35 inches to jump to dunk.
While not many people can’t do it for several reasons, such as physical limits and other factors, that’s not the case with Nate Robinson.
For context, Nate Robinson is ONLY 5 feet 7 inches tall, but his 43.5-inch running jump height ranks amongst the best in the NBA Draft Combine.
In case you’re wondering, he is a 3-time Slam Dunk Champion in the NBA.
Challenging ( 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet)
The closer you are at 6 feet, the higher your chances of performing a dunk. Why? You only need 24 inches to touch the rim and 30 inches to perform a dunk.
While 6 feet isn’t far to 5 feet 9 inches, some factors will decide. One particular factor is the average arm length, wherein 6-foot-tall players have longer arms.
The only problem is, you won’t still be able to do it if you are just a casual basketball player.
You will also need vertical jump training to improve your vertical jump to dunk and be physically fit to dunk easily.
Watch this video to get tips on how to dunk if you are under 6 feet.
Normal (6 feet 1 inch to 6 feet 4 inches)
If you are 6 feet tall, dunking in this height range is a little comfortable without intensive vertical jump training.
Of course, some people at this height range might not still be able to dunk for some reason, but football players at this height range can dunk it without needing to do vertical jump training.
One particular reason why football players have a crazy vertical jump height is that their training is a little bit more explosive than basketball in general.
For some, being AT LEAST 6 feet tall is the minimum height for you to dunk easily and comfortably.
Easy (6 feet 4 inches and up)
Being this tall has many advantages; you already have a long-standing reach and are closer to the rim.
In addition, some players in this height category aren’t necessarily good jumpers because they are already much closer to the rim and don’t need to jump high enough.
That’s not the case with Michael Jordan.
Measuring around 6 feet and 6 inches, he can dunk with a running vertical jump height of 48 inches. His record remains unbeaten up to this very day.
However, you might have to undergo training or basic exercises to dunk if you are not fit enough. Fitness is still a factor despite being this tall.
Smaller bodies are more athletic than taller ones as the power-to-weight ratio decreases. However, there are certainly outliers in this world.
For example, Usain Bolt is listed as 6 feet 5 inches, but you can rarely see a sprinter more than 6 feet being able to sprint as fast as him.
It is one of the reasons why he is a legend.
Tips And Tricks For You To Be Able To Dunk
Now that you know the height and difficulty of performing a dunk, the next best thing to do is to train to jump higher.
If you want to dunk easily, you must train and exercise more. One of the most important parts of the human body you need to emphasize is the calves and abs.
These tips are particularly helpful for non-athletic people, especially if you are trying the very first dunk of your life!
Strength Training Benefits
One of the key components for you to dunk consistently and easily is through training. You need to target certain muscle groups to increase your explosive power.
Doing lots of training can help you jump higher than most players of the same height.
If you train consistently, results will follow, and you will be able to dunk without the need to jump higher.
Another important factor in a player’s ability to dunk is physical fitness.
This will serve as your foundation to perform this basketball feat’s necessary skills and requirements.
Lower Body Focus
You must target your lower body if you want to perform dunks.
Focus more on lunges, squats, and plyometric exercises as they increase one’s maximum vertical jump.
If you want to improve your dunking skills, having a strong core can help you easily achieve amazing dunks.
For the most part, having a strong and stable core can help increase your jumping ability, increasing your chances of successful dunk attempts.
Flexibility and Mobility
There’s a reason why you will always need to stretch before going into intense activities.
It can help in reducing the risk of injuries during training and can help enhance your ability to dunk as well.
A good range of motion can improve jumping mechanics and overall performance.
Leg Strength Development
If you are 6 feet tall, you will only need 30 inches to dunk. That number can be easily accomplished if you develop your leg strength properly.
Strong leg muscles can help contribute to explosive dunks.
As I have mentioned, if you want to dunk easily, you must focus on your lower body to achieve explosive and athletic dunks.
You can still jump significantly higher even with the same standing jumps as other players.
All you have to do is invest your time and effort in training. Train intensively until you can reach the last few inches!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You might find some answers below if you have additional questions regarding dunks.
What Is the Average Height of NBA Players?
The average height of players playing in the NBA is 6 feet and 7 inches. In this height category, the average NBA player can dunk easily.
However, globally, the average height for males is around 5 feet and 6 inches, which makes it hard to dunk at this height if you don’t have all the physical tools and training.
Jumping ability, arm span, and height are the most important factors in measuring your dunking ability.
But if you are not good enough, you might not be able to do it on the first try. However, if you train consistently and put all the hard work in, dunks will become normal for you.
This article of mine should provide you everything you need to do to perform it at a high level consistently.