How to Improve Vertical Jump

Coaching Secrets to Jump Higher

A woman listening to her iPod while stretching in Portland Oregon.
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Is there a secret to improve your vertical jump? You may want to dunk like the pros or you may want to improve your jumping abilities for sports like tennis, volleyball, or track events such as the high jump.

According to Miami Heat Strength and Conditioning Coach Bill Foran, "Jumping is a very explosive movement that can, believe it or not, be improved with proper training." Most NBA players have vertical jumps in the 28-inch to 34-inch range.

To get your best vertical jump it is necessary to do both strength and power training.

Power and Strength Exercises for Jumping

Strength exercises include slow, controlled movements like squats, lunges, and weighted step-ups.  Power exercises require explosive, quick moves like those needed for plyometrics and power cleans. Plyometrics are explosive bounding, hopping and jumping drills that blend strength and speed. Finally, practicing maximum vertical jump will increase vertical jump.

There are many ways to improve vertical jump, but some of the most effective exercises include plyometrics, along with exercises that build both strength and power.

  • Plyometrics: The most common plyometric exercises include hops, jumps, and bounding movements. One popular plyometric exercise is jumping off a box and rebounding off the floor and onto another, higher box. Box jumps will also provide practice for jumping.
  • Full Squats: This barbell exercise will build both strength and power. It's also one of the best total body exercises you can do.
  • Weighted / Dynamic Step Ups: The step up is a great all-around exercise that you can do almost anywhere. Not only will it build strength in your quadriceps, you can also use it as part of a cardio workout. It has a low risk of injury.
  • Overhead Walking Lunges: This exercise builds power, strength, and speed in your legs as well as improving core strength during movement. All you need is a weight and room to walk.
  • Single-leg Squats: The single leg squat is an exercise you can do anywhere, without equipment. It works your hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus maximus. and calves while strengthening your core and helping flexibility.
  • Sprints:  These short bouts of intense exercise build muscle and performance, using more muscles at the same time as compared to weightlifting.
  • Agility drills: Agility drills to help improve coordination, speed, power, and specific sports skills. Several of them include jumping.
  • Stair Running: Stair running is a high-intensity workout that helps build speed, power, and cardiovascular fitness. It targets the glutes, quads, and calves.

You can build strength by performing basic weight training exercise using slow, controlled movements, and build power with faster dynamic movements. You also you need to improve the speed of movement in order to create power. This is done with explosive, quick exercises.

You can add specific plyometric drills as well. These build both power and speed and generally include explosive bounding, hopping and jumping exercises.

Practice Your Maximum Jump

If you want to jump higher, jump higher. Include some time to practice your maximum jump, putting it all together. Work on your form, incorporating your lead up to the jump, arm motion, and safe landing technique.

Keep in mind that jumping is a high impact activity. It isn't suitable for everyone and you may discover it is taking a toll on your knees, hips, ankles, and feet. Be sure to give your body a rest between hard workouts so your muscles have time to repair and build before you challenge them again.

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