Keep the chest up, rear-end out, knees aimed toward the big and 2nd toe, distribute weight 50/50, and jump! It would be great if that was all it was to it but like many things in life, increasing your vertical height jumping in basketball is more involved. Start out with a practice jump noting the height to the backboard. Then close your eyes and think “I feel myself getting more powerful and much lighter” and note the difference. Visualizing puts you in the right mindset to begin the process of your goal.
A good vertical requires great strength. It all begins with training the body to strengthen its muscular power. Start with strengthening the toe muscles. This alone can add an inch to a vertical jump. Curl toes in or crunch toes for ten seconds. An alternative is to push up on the tiptoes and hold for a couple of minutes leading up to walking or running on tip toes for twenty minutes.
Next, work on the ankles. Ankles can be strengthened by walking around on the heels of the foot without letting the ball of the foot touch the floor. Consider training bare foot since shoes can actually weaken the feet because of restricted mobility. Shoes obviously have to be worn during practices and games so purchase a pair of Springbak Speedsoles which are ultra thin rubber shoe inserts. This alone could increase your vertical by two inches.
Inches can also be gained by targeting the calves. This can be achieved by 200 calf raises or jumping rope. Six reps per leg of lunges while holding dumbbells will also strengthen the calf muscles. Practicing short duration, high intensity drills, like sprint running, will work wonders on the calves.
The primary jumping muscles are the calves and quadriceps, so strengthening both of these will go a long way, maybe even as much as six inches, in increasing a vertical jump. To strengthen the quads, try leg presses, extensions, and the wall sit where the quads are at a ninety degree angle and parallel to the ground. Ten sets of ten reps totaling one hundred squats is also a good basic strengthening exercise.
Strengthening shin muscles will eliminate shin splints and increase the quickness of take off. To do this, walk around on heels without letting the ball of the foot touch the ground.
Kettlebells are undoubtedly the best exercise for hip extension. A kettlebell is swung between the legs which are shoulder width apart. The force of the swing comes from the hip. Dead lifts, squats, pull ups, with low reps, five sets of five reps, will really enhance hip extension and develop strength.
The transverse abdominal wall plays a key role in power movement. To strengthen this area, suck in the stomach and hold for twenty seconds and repeat four times. Make sure to do this one, three to four times a week.
Plyometrics (Plyos or Jump Training)
The purpose of plyometrics is to train the nervous system to naturally speed up the reflexes. The best plyometric exercise is stair training. This develops power and rhythm. Start out hopping one to two stairs one to two times a week for fifteen to twenty-five minutes. Work up to hopping two to three steps at a time. Running up the stairs will also increase strength and power.
Squat jumps, ten reps per set, are also very effective, where you stand with feet shoulder width apart, bend knees, and explode vertically by extending legs and using the arms to reach for the sky. Achieving forceful arm swings and timing it with the jump are key to good form and technique. Always remember to land soft on your feet like a cat.
The actual act of practicing a jump is essential in maximizing a vertical jump. Jumping with light resistance bands or even five to ten reps of waveloading, where the body is weighted down with weights when jumping, will trick your body when jumping without the weights causing an increase in height. Avoid plyometrics during basketball season because the body is jumping more than enough during the season. Use the weight room instead and incorporate plyometrics only during off season.
Isometric stretching three times a week is critical when working on hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and glutes. Use a towel to stretch each muscle to a comfortable extension for ten seconds, then pull against the stretch for another ten seconds, relax, and repeat. Stretch only after an event or workout because stretching before decreases power.
Don’t eat heavy foods that weigh the body down. Eat lots of fruit, vegetables, starchy products, fish, and drink lots of water. Avoid eating deep fried food.
Perfecting technique is the only way to maximize a vertical jump. Rotate exercises every two or three weeks because once the muscles get accustomed to a certain set of exercises they stop responding to those exercises. Muscle confusion is the key to an effective long term workout program. Also, make sure to separate speed/plyometric days from the strength training days for the very same reason. Remember, the lower the squat, the higher the jump. Just don’t hit your head on the rim!