5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Vertical Jump
When it comes to testing in sport, let’s be honest: It is usually about the 40-yard dash and the vertical jump. Strength is important, but only Globo Gym bros are asking, “How much ya bench?” For most sport coaches, speed and power are far more important – and if size and strength slow you down, that’s no good.
There are few tests I can think of to measure someone’s overall athleticism better than the vertical jump. Very few people who can jump high are overweight, uncoordinated or slow. Avoiding those attributes contributes to athletic success in general, too. Excluding body composition, improvements detailed below are my Top 5 things you can do to improve your vertical jump.
1.) Improve your technique
- Find your power position.
- Use your arms.
2.) Get stronger!
- Getting stronger in exercises like squats and deadlifts can help improve your jumping ability.
3.) Perform non-countermovement jumps
- These are jumps with no load or countermovement that make jumping much harder. (Example: Pause Jumps or Seated Jumps)
4.) Perform plyometric jumps
- Implementation of jump variations like depth jumps and hurdle hops can improve your ability to be explosive.
5.) Practice jumping
- Jumping is a skill. You must practice it.
More on Technique
Each individual will jump from different positions depending on limb lengths, lower body strength, and reactive abilities. However, for the most part, the standard position will be:
Close to a quarter squat with the feet flat, knees bent, hips back, and chest up. This position is what I call the “power position.”
It’s pretty simple – it’s the position in which you feel – and, biomechanically speaking, are – most powerful. It may take some time for those two things to match up, but when coordination, strength and practice come together, the body will choose the most efficient technique.
One of the biggest mistakes I see with athletes jumping is the inability to coordinate their arm swing with their load and jump. The arms should be used to build momentum in the jump. This will increase how high you can jump. If you don’t use your arms (or your arms are going down as you are going up), you will drastically decrease your vertical. Try it and see for yourself. Perform two jumps.
Make sure to practice your arm swing even if you don’t jump. Practice getting as tall as you can, standing on your tip-toes and reaching as high as you can. From there, practice pulling yourself down into your power position. Pull yourself down with your arms swinging down and back. Pause a few times with your arms back in as much extension as you can while maintaining your chest-up posture. Once you know where your power position is, practice the timing of swinging your arms back up as you simultaneously extend your hips, knees, and ankles. As you leave the ground, your arms should be up, reaching overhead with your body fully extended just like the starting position. Now, do the same thing, but jump!
Some of the greatest athletic performances include someone flying through the air to win the game. An outfielder leaping over the fence to rob a home run that would’ve tied the game. A wide receiver catching a pass in the back of the end zone. Who can forget Vince Carter jumping over a 7-footer for a dunk in the Olympics?! All of these performances include athletes with exceptional vertical jumps and athleticism that left everyone’s jaw on the floor in disbelief. In other words, if you want to be on the good side of a highlight reel, you better get to jumping.