Having great quickness, reaction time, hand-eye coordination, conditioning, and the ability to change directions, are all traits that great basketball player must possess. Having explosive power and the ability to jump high are also great qualities that will help you become successful on the basketball court. Everyone wants to block more shots, grab more rebounds, and of course dunk the basketball.
So how do you go about increasing your vertical leap the right way that will set you up to see improvements on the basketball court?
First off, no program can guarantee that they will increase your vertical leap by 6-12 inches. There is also not one special piece of equipment that will have you dunking over everyone in just 6 weeks. Second, increasing your vertical depends a lot on your genetics and the type of muscle fibers that you had when you were born. Some people are born with explosive fast twitch muscle fibers and others are not. Some people are born with the genetic potential to have a thirty inch vertical, and some are not. This doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your ability to jump higher, it just means that your ceiling to improve might not be as high as others.
To increase your vertical leap you have to take part in a training program that is safe, consistent, and progressive. To go about increasing your vertical in a safe way you must first have a solid strength training base and work capacity. Training to increase muscle strength is a prerequisite for training muscular power. Going out and performing explosive jumping exercises without a solid foundation sets you up for injury. This means you should be involved in an ongoing strength and conditioning program, so your body is strong and prepared to handle the increased intensity involved with plyometric training. Plyometric training is used to increase the elastic properties of the muscles so they can become more reactive to the ground, leading to more explosive movements.
Injuries can occur when doing this type of power training if proper technique and body positioning are incorrect. Jumping and landing should involve the entire body. The core, arms, and legs must work simultaneously to produce force, and act as shock absorbers to reduce force. As you jump you have to have explosive triple extension at the hips, knees, and ankles. Your arms work together in this process as they should be back when you load and extend upward as you extend and jump. While landing, you have to absorb force through the hips, knees, and ankles by flexing these joints while keeping your core tight and chest up.
Always perform a proper warm-up that involves active stretching and dynamic movements that prepare the body for takeoff and the impact of landing. Increasing your range of motion gives you the ability to produce more power, which leads to an increased jump height. When choosing plyometric exercises they should progress from low intensity to more advanced, high intensity ones only once they can be performed with proper technique. Progress from general jumping exercises to basketball specific exercises. Plyometric exercises to increase your vertical leap should vary with volume and frequency depending on the time of season in which you are training. In-season training should focus on fewer reps as you don’t want to over train since a lot of jumping occurs throughout daily practices and games. In general 48-72 hours between plyometric sessions are recommended with adequate recovery between sets. Lower intensity jumps for quickness can have shorter rest times, while higher intensity jumps for maximal height, or with resistance require longer rest periods.
Now that you know a little bit of the science around increasing your vertical leap let’s look at a few exercises that can actually get you jumping higher and help you improve as a basketball player.
Beginning exercises to increase your vertical start with body weight strength training exercises and involve jumping exercises that are for speed and not necessarily height.
- Glute Bridges - Jumping Rope
- Body Weight Squats - Line Jumps or ladder hops
- Step Ups - Hurdle hops – 6 inch
- Lunges - Squat Jumps
Intermediate Exercises include:
- DB Squat & Press - Box Jumps
- DB Deadlifts - Broad Jumps
- Rear foot elevated Single leg Squats - Power Skips
- Single Leg RDL’s - Power Step Ups
Advanced exercises include:
- Front Squats - SL box Jumps
- KB Swings - DB Squat Jumps
- DB split jerks - Weight Vest, MB Box Jumps
- Single arm snatches - Tuck Jumps
Remember a strong strength base is recommended before beginning a vertical leap program to avoid injury and increase the chances of seeing results. Be smart with your training and know that you can’t magically jump higher overnight. Be consistent and progressive with your training and you will see improvements in your ability to explode to the rim