How Tall Do You Have to Be to Dunk? The Revealed Truth

Well, there is no specific answer to the question, as there is no definite value regarding it. The standard tall player’s height in NBA is recorded as 6’7, however, the players with average height are equally privileged to dunk as height is never the only factor yet many other athletics attributes as well.

How Tall Do You Have to Be to Dunk

As far as it’s about the “how tall do you have to be to dunk?”. Let’s look over below at the compact yet detailed guide on it.

Read Also: Shortest NBA Players to Dunk

How Tall Do You Have to Be to Dunk?

According to the statistics (from 1985 to 2006), the height of the players with “most-dunked” records ranges from 6’4 to 6’7. Thence, the belief of the people has formulated that only the players with this height can be pro dunkers.

Generally, basketball rims are usually up to 10 feet above the ground, which brings the notion that the small-height players are not the ones for dunking. Little did know, it’s not really obvious that anyone under 6 feet can’t get to the rim or perform a dunk.

Where the taller height is indeed a substantial advantage, yet alone it’s not the only pre-requisite other parameters are there too, to conclude the dunking capability of a player. The two fundamental key statistics/attribute that determines the potential of the player to be considered an “ideal in dunking” are:

  1. The standing reach
  2. The vertical jump

Recommended to Read: What is Basketball Jump Shot

Standing Reach:

Standing reach is simply the calculation of one’s “reach” to the hoop while “standing”. It’s the value that is deduced from the observation that, “how high one can reach(to the rim) with one arm vertically up while standing straightly”. Apparently, a taller height justifies the higher reach, however, the “arm’s length” is also an important factor to get the final ‘standing reach.

Analyzing the stats of the NBA, one of the amazing facts that is been observed is that there exists a rational number of players with 6’2 height, that has the same standing reach as the players with 6’9. This manifests the variation of the ‘arm’s length’ from player to player and its direct impact on the standing reach of the player regardless of his height. 

As an example, Tyler Bey is 6’6” tall while Zeke Nanji is 6’9.25” taller, but shares the same standing reach that is – 8’9.50”! Conclusively, the standing reach is not proportional to height.

The ‘arm’s length’ with the height, does play its part in reaching closer to the hoop as much as possible and hence resulting in a smooth and proficient dunk. Averagely, a person’s standing reach by height is around 1.33 greater, yet some people are blessed with long arms. Hence essentially, the “standing reach” should be the prime consideration to recall when it comes to the answer of “how tall a player has to be for dunking” rather than considering the height solely.

Players with exceptional arm lengths in the NBA: The two players, Rajon Ronda of 6′ 1″ height with a wingspan of 6′ 9″, and Luol Deng who at 6’7″ had a crazy standing reach of 9′ 0.5″, marked the record in NBA history. Substantially, 50% of NBA basketball players have a reach-to-height ratio of between 132- 135% greater than their standing height.

Vertical Jump:

Distinctive from the genetic factors of height and standing reach (the arm length), the vertical jump doesn’t come as less than a bonus to be in the row of capable dunkers. Transparent from the name, this parameter evaluates the jump of the player, that is “how high the player can jump vertically up” and so determines the capability of the player for a proficient dunk.

Even when, the height and standing reach don’t go in the favor of the player to consider, the vertical jump can reverse circumstances. A player with a height of fewer than 6 feet may barely be able to cross the standing reach of 9 feet. Thence, in such instances, a “higher vertical jump” can be the savior if fulfills the selection criteria.

Bonusly, where the height & standing reach are genuine and definite, the vertical jump height can be increased by continuous practice. There are plenty of training sessions that may lead to boosting the player’s vertical jump by 10-30 inches overall. My personal recommendation is the Vert Shock training among many.

Certainly, there is a criterion defined to measure and rate how good your vertical jump is. Inclusively. Noteworthy is that a run-up jump will typically add between 3-7 inches to your jump height. Let’s look over the below infographic to know where You stand!

Though roughly the ranges are been specified to rate the player’s jump yet there’s another question hold that is, HOW HIGH DO YOU HAVE TO JUMP TO DUNK?

Well, the answer of HOW isn’t definite yet it can be AS MUCH HIGH AS YOU CAN. There are two types of vertical jumps that can be practiced to get your vertical jump to a dunkable level. The types are:

  • Standing Vertical Jump
  • Maximum Vertical Jump

Standing vertical jump simply exhibits the act of jumping up in the air vertically while footed straight on the ground. Contrastly, the Maximum vertical jump involves the motion of the player, while he tends to run from far behind, gaining the maximum momentum to strengthen the feet, and ending up with a proficient dunk. Among both, the maximum vertical jump is realistically more played as no player stands still on the court and plays except in certain situations. Therefore the maximum jump would be a better indicator for a high vertical jump.

Consummately, according to the average vertical jump metrics 6’6(6 feet 6 inches) is the ideal minimum range for tunneling. The other way around, lower than the optimal mentioned range, the player has to have hefty practice sessions to reach the lap. Taller players may not be necessarily good jumpers, yet they are benefitted to reach the hoop more easily.

Once you’ve gotten the calculation of standing reach and vertical jump yours, let’s now determine:

How Difficult Is It to Dunk Based on Your Height? How Difficult Will It Be for You to Dunk in Basketball?

Below is the general discourse based on the height and arm’s length collectively. Plus the assumption of general good health and fitness levels.

health and fitness levels

1. Challenging: 5 Feet 7 Inches – 5 Feet 9 Inches: (5’7 – 5’9) – Difficulty: 9/10

With the 5’7 to 5’9 and an average arm length, the standing reach would be about 7 feet 7 inches.

By means of this, the player is required to jump about 29 inches to strike the hoop, which is huge. Over that, the 35-inch jump is mandatory to dunk with this height. Typically, it’s a challenging figure for even professional basketball players.

Only exceptional players are able to perform such incredibly, such as individuals like Spud Webb or Nate Robinson who have marked the records with their 40 inches high jumps. Whatsoever, jumping at this height demands extraordinary physical strength.

Nate Robinson being 5′ 9″ only, has pulled off some spectacular dunks seen in the NBA.

2. Challenging: 5 Feet 10 Inches – 6 Feet: (5’10 – 6) – Difficulty: 8/10

Increasing from 5’s range to 6 feet is indeed worthwhile and beneficial for the player comprehensively. With this height and of course average arm length, the player has to make an effort for the 24-inch jump to reach the hoop and 30 inches jump for dunking purposes.

In comparison, although there’s a difference of only 3 inches in 5’10 to 6 feet. However, it may get tough for the player to practice beyond his limits and achieve the last few inches. Further, supposedly, the player with 6 feet height (on average) has longer arms, profiting by adding 1 extra inch – to their standing reach value.

Hence, players with such height are then required to practice religiously in order to shoot a perfect dunk.

3. Standard: 6 Feet 1INCH – 6 Feet 3 Inches: (6’1 – 6’3) – Difficulty: 6/10

This height is considered the most absolute among all variations. No extra effort or higher vertical jumps are necessary to be able to get to the hoop and gain a dunk. Nor, the players are obligated to have any strict practice sessions to dunk competently and smoothly.

4. Easy: 6 Feet 4 Inches and Up: (6’4+) Difficulty: 4/10

Primarily, there are two notions for this height.

Being this tall, is undoubtedly, a privilege to the player who intends to dunk. No struggle with higher vertical jumps is expected rather a slight jump can work well if played timely and magnificently.

Conversely, the bigger bodies are observed to exhibit a steady reaction time, less strength-to-weight ratio, and lower acceleration. Therefore, the smaller masses are considered more active and athletic in physicality.

Convincingly, the taller players should be designated with the role of dunking rather than passing and shooting on the court, as their taller height justifies and comes off with a better advantage when dunking.

How Much Does Height Actually Play a Factor in Dunking?

The chart below summarizes, how high you should jump to achieve a dunk. Though the approximate values have already been defined in the above model, however, it can be seen that height is not a very important factor – as much as the standing reach and vertical jump. But no offense, the taller height requires fewer jumps because of high standing reach, so again — there isn’t any definite answer rather depends accordingly.

HeightStanding ReachRequired vertical jump
5 feet7’3”39 inches
5 feet7’4”38 inches
5 feet7’5”37 inches
5 feet 3 inches7’6”36 inches
5 feet 3 inches7’7”35 inches
5 feet 3 inches7’8”34 inches
5 feet 6 inches7’9”33 inches
5 feet 6 inches7’10”32 inches
5 feet 6 inches7’11”31 inches
5 feet 9 inches8’30 inches
5 feet 9 inches8’1”29 inches
5 feet 9 inches8’2”28 inches
6 feet8’3”27 inches
6 feet8’4”26 inches
6 feet8’5”25 inches
6 feet 3 inches8’6”24 inches
6 feet 3 inches8’7”23 inches
6 feet 3 inches8’8”22 inches
6 feet 6 inches8’9”21 inches
6 feet 6 inches8’10”20 inches
6 feet 6 inches8’11”19 inches
6 feet 9 inches9’18 inches
6 feet 9 inches9’1”17 inches
6 feet 9 inches9’2”16 inches

Ways to Improve the Vertical Jump to Dunk:

Now you must be having a clear idea about your “necessary vertical jump value” after going through the above-mentioned “height & difficulty depending on the measurement” guide. Also, you must have been cleared up, that the only thing you can work on and polish to get your way to the basketball court is the “vertical jump”(and not the height or standing reach, of course).

Let me brief you with a compact yet detailed vertical jump workout list, to improve your dunking ability. Mention worthy, the prime parts that need the most overwork and focus are, the abs and calves.

Strengthening calves and stronger muscles are undoubtedly the keys to brawny leading to skillful higher vertical jumps. The recommended below exercises should be on a player’s must-do list if wishes to dunk adeptly.

  • Calf raises.
  • Plyometrics like box jumps and squats
  • An elliptical machine.
  • Walking.
  • Running.
  • Stretching
  • Biking.
  • Hiking.
  • Strength training

Final Thoughts

To summarize, being a borderline giant definitely, you can dunk handily and competently, but whatsoever, height is not everything. Examining one’s dunking capability requires a lot of factors to be considered.

Needless to say, the balancing act of numerous factors leads to the perfect dunk. Therefore, shorter dunker players are always favored to try their luck as some stars like Nate Robinson may come out while having the shortest height. The ability to assert major dominance over your competition, all comes from more intense muscle training and vertical jumps.

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