How Tall Do You Have to Be to Dunk?

Dunking is one of the most fun and exciting parts of basketball. Everyone, from young first-time players to more experienced high school and college athletes, wants to fly high and throw it down. It’s definitely not something that’s easy to do, but it might be easier than you first think.

I am a basketball player who has spent more than twenty-five years both playing and watching the game at a slew of different levels. I know what it takes to get on the court, and I know the skills needed to succeed. That includes dunking.

In this article, we will go over dunking and break down who can do it, why they can do it, and how you might improve if you can’t. We’ll also cover the heights required (or not required) to make it happen.

Read on to find out more.

Is There a Required Height?

Before we begin, we need to address the basic premise of this article. How tall do you have to be to dunk? The truth is, there is no one required height. While having some extra length helps, as we’ll get into below, you don’t need to be seven feet to get to the rim.

There are many people out there who are less than six feet tall who can dunk with relative ease. That includes NBA players Nate Robinson and Spud Webb, two shorter players known for their ability to get above the rim. In fact, Spud Webb was just 5’6!

There’s no doubt being taller makes it easier to get up higher, but when it comes to a minimum height to dunk, there simply isn’t one. 

How Can You Close the Gap?

Rather than asking how tall you need to be to dunk, you should focus on how high you need to jump. A regulation basketball hoop stands roughly ten feet tall. To dunk, you need to be able to close the gap between where the hoop sits and your height.

However, it’s not quite that simple. Holding the ball is going to make it harder to get up. You also need to be able to throw the ball down by getting it physically above the rim. As such, you actually need to reach a few inches higher than the rim.

To do that, there are two key factors you need to pay attention to.

What is Standing Reach?

The first aspect you need to pay attention to when dunking is your standing reach, which refers to how high you can stretch your arm up while standing flat on the ground. That’s important because it is that point, rather than the top of your head, that you need to get from.

Taller players tend to have longer standing reaches, but that’s not always true. There are plenty of shorter ones with impressive wingspans too. That alone is one of the big reasons height is not the best way to measure whether or not you can dunk.

For instance, someone who stands 5’9 has an average standing reach of 8 feet. As such, they need to jump just over two feet two dunk, not four. That’s a huge difference.

What’s Your Vertical Got To Do With It?

Once you figure out your reach, you next need to calculate your vertical. That’s simply how high you can go from standing to jumping. Everyone’s is different, but, unlike standing reach, you can train your vertical and improve your ability.

While everyone has a natural jumping ability, putting in some time in the gym or training your legs can cause you to jump higher. Those extra inches you can earn from training can help people who normally can’t dunk get up above the rim.

It gets even easier when you calculate the extra height you can get from running or dunking one handed versus two.


Can Short Players Dunk?

Of course, it’s never going to be easy to dunk if you’re on the shorter side. However, just about anyone who is at least 5’8 can dunk with a lot of training, practice, and workouts.

How Do I Jump Higher?

There are many factors that influence your vertical, including natural ability, muscle reaction time, and leg strength. Working out your legs, spending time trying to jump higher, and working with a vertical jump program can all give you some key extra inches.

Can Shoes Increase Your Vertical?

Though they won’t be able to take you from not dunking to dunking, good shoes with springy soles can’t get you a couple of extra inches when jumping. Look for thicker bases, as well as strong sneakers with good bounce.

Is It Easier to Dunk With One Hand or Two?

One handed. While both are by no means easy, one handed dunks require a lower vertical than two handed dunks. It’s always a good idea to start out dunking one handed before you move onto two.

Final Words

Many players at many levels consider dunking one of basketball’s biggest milestones. Some people are able to do it naturally, but others can’t get there at all. It depends on a myriad of factors. While height is one of them, there’s a lot more to dunking than genetics.

At the end of the day, you don’t need to be one specific height in order to get up above the rim. There are shorter players who can, as well as taller players who can’t. If you want to get there and can’t, pay attention to standing reach, know your vertical, and don’t be afraid to train.

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