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Dunk Calculator

Created by Wei Bin Loo
Reviewed by Dominik Czernia, PhD and Jack Bowater
Last updated: May 23, 2024

We have prepared this dunk calculator for you to calculate your dunking height, i.e., the height you need to jump to dunk. Being able to dunk is a dream for most basketball players, as it is one of the most incredible shots in the game of basketball.

This article will help you to understand what a dunk is and how high you need to jump to dunk. Furthermore, we will also give you some recommendations to help you solve the problem of how to jump higher to dunk. After reading, you won't probably ask "How tall do you have to be to dunk?" again.

Dunk definition. Can I dunk and how to dunk?

Before calculating your dunking height, let's first understand what a dunk shot is. Dunk, or dunk shot, is a type of basketball shot. We also call it a slam dunk as it involves a basketball player jumping high into the air while holding the basketball and put the ball into the basket forcefully when the hands are above the rim. This is basically the dunk definition.

Most basketball players will get intimidated when watching videos online on NBA players performing dunk shots in games. Those videos make it looks like you can only dunk if you are tall, strong, and highly athletic. However, it is actually not 100% true. There are a lot of people who can dunk while having an average height. For example, Nate Robinson, an NBA player who has a height of 5' 7" (about 170 cm), was able to dunk over many NBA players who are way taller than him. Not to mention that Spudd Webb, another NBA player with a similar height, has won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest over other contestants who average 6'2" (188 cm) in height.

Having that said about the dunk meaning, performing a slam dunk is no easy feat. It requires a lot of hard work and grit. But, before all that, we need to understand your current situation. And this is where this dunk calculator comes into play.

The dunk calculator. How high do I need to jump to dunk?

To use this dunk calculator, there are three steps you need to carry out:

  1. Determine the target hoop height

    The height of the hoop is different for different age groups. The easiest way to determine this information is to measure the hoop you are trying to dunk. However, we understand this might be rather troublesome for you, so we have provided you with some guidelines:

    • For hoop 2nd grade or below, the hoop height should be 7 ft (2.1 m);
    • For hoop 3ʳᵈ to 4ᵗʰ grade, the hoop height should be 8 ft (2.4 m);
    • For hoop 5ᵗʰ to 6ᵗʰ grade, the hoop height should be 9 ft (2.7 m); and
    • For hoop 7ᵗʰ grade or above (the standard hoop), the hoop height should be 10 ft (3 m).

    Of course, you can also insert a custom hoop height if you wish to do so.

  2. Determine your body mass, standing reach, and palm size

    Well, we expect you to know your body mass and standing reach. Otherwise, just measure it and insert the value into our calculator. The body mass says how heavy you are, and your standing reach is the height you can reach by raising your hand to the maximum height.

    If you wish to perform the calculation more accurately, you can also measure and insert your actual palm size into our dunk calculator. This value will help because, in reality, your palm needs to be above the basketball rim to dunk. You can change it in the advanced mode.

  3. Calculate the minimum vertical leap

    The final step is to calculate the minimum vertical leap you need to achieve to dunk. This can be calculated using the formula below:

    minimum vertical leap = hoop height - standing reach + palm size

Besides the minimum vertical leap, you can also calculate some other information that may be helpful if you're wondering how to jump higher to dunk:

  • Jumping energy

    This is the energy needed to reach the minimum vertical leap. It is the product of your body mass, the gravitational acceleration, and the minimum vertical leap:

    jumping energy = body mass * gravitational acceleration * minimum vertical leap

    Check our gravitational force calculator to understand more on this topic.

  • Initial jumping speed

    This is the initial jumping speed you need to produce to dunk. The formula is:

    initial jumping speed = √(2 * gravitational acceleration * minimum vertical leap)

  • Hang time

    hang time is the time that you will stay in the air. You can calculate it as:

    hang time = √(8 * minimum vertical leap / gravitational acceleration)

    You can use our time lapse calculator for this calculation.

After learning about dunk meaning and related formulae, we will now put aside the questions like how tall do you have to be to dunk. We want to focus on how to dunk even if you're not very tall at all.

How to improve your vertical jump?

Now, the next thing you probably would like to know is how to improve your vertical jump. Well, we have got that covered. Here are the three steps you can use to improve your vertical leap:

  1. Improve your leg muscle

    Needless to say, to jump higher, you will need stronger legs. Hence, strengthening your leg muscle is of the essence if you want to dunk.

    There are a few things you can focus on to improve your legs muscle:

    • Perform squats workouts. There are multiple variations of squats that you can do, such as jump squats, Bulgarian split squats, deep squats, etc.
    • Perform box jumps. Place a box before you and jump onto it. Slowly increase the height of the box. This exercise can improve your explosiveness.
    • Perform rope jumping. Do consistent rope jumping for about 10 minutes every day. This exercise can effectively improve your calf muscle. Check out our jump rope calorie calculator.
    • Perform weight lifting. You can start with deadlifts. Applying weights in your workout is the most effective way to improve the explosiveness of your jumps.
  2. Track your vertical jump regularly

    It is crucial to keep track of your progress. Test your vertical leap every 2 weeks or month. This can help you to make sure all your exercises are actually effective.

    However, it is equally important not to get too anxious. Sometimes, depending on your body condition, it may take longer to realize the results.

  3. Jump the right way

    The last step to focus on is to jump the right way. You would be amazed how much this can affect your maximum jumping height. When you are jumping, pay attention and make sure you do the following actions:

    • Swing both your arms upwards to gain more upward momentum.
    • Lower your center of gravity by squatting down until your hips are almost parallel to the ground. This can help you to muster strength in your leg muscle as well.
    • Make sure you are jumping upright and vertically. If you are jumping slightly forward and backward, some of your force will be wasted.


What is a dunk?

A dunk, more commonly known as a slam dunk, is a type of basketball shot where the player jumps in the air with their hands above the rim, and guides the ball towards the basketball forcefully. It is one of the signature moves in basketball.

How to practice dunk in basketball?

To practice dunking, you need to practice jumping higher. The strength of your legs is the most important factor in helping you jump higher. As long as you can constantly improve your leg muscle strength, you will be able to dunk one day.

Can every NBA player dunk?

However surprising, not all NBA players can dunk. Some are restricted by their heights, whereas others are not athletic enough. For example, Isiah Thomas and J.J Barea are among the NBA players who can't dunk.

Can short people dunk?

Yes! Although being tall can make it a lot easier to dunk a basketball, some people have actually proved to us that even short people can perform a slam dunk. For instance, Spud Webb, an NBA player who is just 5'7" (170 cm), won the NBA slam dunk contest in 1986.

Wei Bin Loo
Related calculators
Hoop type
7ᵗʰ grade or above (standard hoop)
Hoop height
Body mass
Standing reach
Minimum vertical leap
Hang time
Jumping energy
Initial jumping speed
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