It’s that time of the year…March Madness! As most of us enjoy watching some quality basketball, there are many people out there trying to improve their game and athleticism to reach the level of competition they desire at the high school, college, and professional levels. One of the most challenging elements of basketball to improve is the Vertical. The advantages of improving a vertical include blocking shots, rebounding better, attacking harder, and ultimately dunking the ball better. Jump training can be as simple as thinking about how to jump to a home workout of heavy weight lifting for force production. I will be providing tips, exercises, and technique to help maximize your vertical gains.
First, watch people you would like to emulate and practice their approach. Focus on jumping off one and two legs. Picture the jump in your mind and walk yourself through every step of their form. After you have a good idea on how you will approach the jump, it’s time to practice. Start slow going through the footwork and as you gain comfort, increase the speed and force you use. Repetition is now the most important thing to focus on. With 1000’s of repetitions, the form, force used, and comfort will improve. This will be your basis for training and achieving comfort with the form must be achieved prior to moving on to the next steps.
Stability is extremely important in jump training. Without your ankle and foot being stable on the ground, you will not be able to accelerate into the air with maximal efficiency. Your ankle, foot, and hips all play a major role in the stability of the jump in order to maximize hip, thigh, and calf use.
Incorporate these single leg balance exercises into your home workout:
- Jump landing in a single leg squat.
- Jump landing into a single leg squat on an unstable surface.
- Jump landing into a subsequent jump.
This is the MOST important thing you can do. Practice, practice, practice! Practice stationary jumps, box jumps (with and without back steps), jumping to touch a marker overhead, lateral jumps, forward/backward jumps, and sequential jumps (2-5 consecutive). Coordination, muscle recruitment, overall force, and application are achieved with repetition.
Strength training is the last step in improving your vertical. With strengthening training, you must have good form. Without proper form, training is near useless and your risk of injury greatly increases. That being said, strengthening will be the way to build on top of the neurological gains you achieved in the previous steps. This list of exercises is not all-inclusive, but these are the muscle groups you will need to focus on to increase your vertical. Add these exercises to your gym or home workout.
- Back squats
- Front squats
- Butt to heel squats
- Weighted Jumps
- Band resisted
- Weight resisted
- Single Leg Squats
- Pistol squats
- Split squats
- Glute/Ham Raises or Eccentric Hamstrings
- Resisted Calf Raises
I hope this helps anybody trying to guide their jump training. Gaining in your vertical is a very rewarding and fun achievement. Dunking a basketball was one of my first goals in life and with a lot of hard work, I was able to achieve this by my junior year of high school and enjoyed doing it for years afterward while playing basketball. To all those striving to make gains in their vertical, best of luck and enjoy the gains!
If you need some extra help in determining a home workout geared toward increasing your vertical or if a nagging pain is stopping you from giving your all on the court contact one of our clinics. We will help you get back to the things you love.