A good vertical jump can give you an immense advantage in athletics, particularly in basketball and volleyball, where a strong and powerful jump can be the difference between missing or making the team.
Some athletes are naturally blessed with a seemingly superhuman spring in their step, allowing them to reach incredible heights with ease. But even if you aren’t one of the lucky few blessed with this natural talent, you can still use training and exercise to increase your own jumping performance.
Some of these workouts rely on cutting down your reaction time and teaching your body how to jump as quickly as possible. Others rely on strength training, which gives you the muscle power to launch yourself higher. All of them combined can help you improve your vertical jump, on and off the basketball court.
1. Depth Jumps
A Depth Jump is a common technique to increase vertical jump performance. This exercise, performed by jumping off a box at roughly your vertical jump limit, then immediately jumping up again as soon as your feet touch the ground, trains your body to maintain and use elastic energy to propel yourself quickly and with power.
To do a proper Depth Jump, stand on a firm surface between 1 and 2 feet tall. Step off with one foot, land with your knees bent slightly and jump back up immediately. Perform 1 or 2 sets of 5 to 8 reps, depending on your strength and experience.
This exercise can be modified by adding hurdles or repetitive jumps, or by steadily increasing the height of the box.
2. Jump Squats
Jump Squats use your body weight for resistance training and to build muscle memory for launching your body from a bent position. They can also be used as a strength training exercise with the addition of weights, which will train your legs to power you up.
Perform a regular Squat with proper technique, including keeping your knees over your toes and your back straight. Once you are low to the ground, jump as high as possible. Repeat 5 or 6 reps over 1 or 2 sets.
The training effect is similar to what you experience with a vertical shock workout. Jump Squats should help you develop the critical technique of explosive movement, which combines power and speed to unleash force at a shockingly intense rate.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
Part of success in the Vertical Jump is based on the ability to extend the legs quickly. The best way to reinforce and practice this is to perform Leg Stretches and Hip Stretches. The Hip Flexor Stretch in particular helps pull the knee up and loosens the muscles, so that tightness does not prohibit you from reaching your maximum height.
To perform a Hip Flexor Pulse Stretch, lunge with your back knee directly under your hip. Push your pelvis forward until you feel a stretch where your pelvis meets your femur, then hold the position for two seconds. Repeat 10 times.
4. Trap Bar Deadlift
This strength exercise is technically easier to learn and perform correctly than a Squat, and it can help build the force necessary for a good jump. It’s similar to the biomechanics of a Vertical Jump, and the centered weight allows you to stay upright.
To perform a Trap Bar Deadlift, stand in the center of a trap bar and grasp both handles. Keeping your back straight, bring the bar up in one clean motion. Repeat five times, increasing the weight over time as you practice.
5. Bulgarian Split Squats
The Bulgarian Split Squat allows you to practice strength and balance simultaneously, which is important for launching yourself into the air safely. The exercise can be done with weights, or you can use your body weight for resistance.
Stand in front of a bench with one foot on it. Hold dumbbells in either hand and descend until your knee nearly touches the floor. Push yourself back up to a standing position.
Repeat 6 to 8 reps over 2 to 3 sets for both legs.
Your jump is a powerful weapon on the court. Practice and train it by developing your strength, your speed and your ability to combine the two in explosive force.