Increase Your Vertical Height with Jump Training Drills
Jump training and a consistent program of vertical jump workouts can help your vertical from the floor during basketball games. By training the body to be explosive, basketball players will see big gains in their vertical jumping abilities. Basketball games can be won with no dunks or fancy aerial activity, but there’s no doubt that an explosive vertical jump can take a basketball player’s game to the next level. So what is a vertical jump, exactly, and how can jump training add power and control to our verticals?
The Vertical Jump: What is it?
Jumping motion happens in any of three basic forms: The bound, the tuck jump, and a combination of the two. The bound is an extension of the same motions that generate a stride as we run. During this kind of jump, one foot rises from the ground before the other, and the momentum generated by the upward thrust of the knee carries our body weight into the air. If we attach ourselves to a heavy weight using a rope, and then throw the weight, our body will be dragged along with some force. This is what happens during the bound. The initial leg that leads the bound launches our bodies not just with its strength, but with its weight (a normal leg can weigh 30 pounds or more).
During the tuck jump, we rely more on the combined muscle strength of both of our legs to launch us into the air either horizontally or vertically. As we bend at the knee and hip and crouch just before the jump, we gather potential energy that explodes and pushes our body weight through the air as our knees and hips suddenly straighten out. The more energy we gather in our bent, pre-jump body position, the more explosive force we release as we straighten.
At a glance, most vertical jumps look like a combination of the first two. The athlete’s feet may leave the ground at the same time or one may rise up before the other, and depending on how body mechanics are applied, the vertical jump may be a modified version of either the tuck or the bound. In either case, the height gained by the vertical jump comes from a few primary sources, including the following:
Vertical Jump Height: Ankle Flexion
As the basketball players crouch before the jump, the angle between their feet and their shins are reduced. When the basketball players' body line straightens out, their hips move into alignment, their knees straighten, and finally their ankles are the last joint to move before they leave the floor. The explosive force with which the ankle-shin angle is widened will have powerful control over the height of the jump. This is the point at which all the energy generated by the body propels the basketball player from the ground. It may seem as if the power behind ankle flexion lies in the ankle, the calf or the foot. All of these are partly true, but a surprising degree of the power concentrated in the ankle joint actually comes from the core. The force of our ankle flexion increases when we engage in plyometric exercises and resistance-building exercises focused on the hips, abs, and lower back.
Vertical Jump Height: Hip Flexors, Hamstrings and Quads
Directly targeting the hip flexors, hamstrings and quads can also add power to the final moment of liftoff that takes place in the ankles. Follow along with Trevor Theismann as he leads a basketball clinic focused on building strength in the upper legs and lower core.
With the Kbands in place to add resistance to the quads and hip flexors, the basketball players in the video begin the jump training exercise with a series of single-leg bounds. With one leg acting as a base, the athletes raise the other leg off the floor and practice throwing the raised knee into the air, working against the resistance of the bands. Note how some of the basketball players draw more of their height from the momentum of the thrown leg (and their arms), while others seem to draw more of their vertical power from the release of their ankle flexion. This move uses combined elements of both the single and double leg jump.
After the single leg bound, the basketball players move on to a series of tuck jumps, in which they raise both feet from the ground at the same time. This move concentrates pressure in the upper leg and hip flexors, a pressure that increases as the resistance band keeps the knees from widening and the legs from splaying outward at the hip. The muscles that cause this splaying motion are powerful contributors to height during the vertical jump. (Note that during the exercise, the basketball players gain greater height when the swinging motion of their arms adds momentum to the body during the liftoff.)
Vertical Jump Height: Control
The height of the vertical jump greatly increases as the basketball players gain control over their body mechanics and the forces that contribute to liftoff and flight. Muscular strength is only one aspect of vertical jump height. The others are control and coordination.
During a vertical jump, every motion of the body transfers energy down the body line, from the arms, through the torso, down to the knees and finally to the ankle joint. Along the way, there are many points at which energy dissipates and is wasted. Arms that flail with no rhythm can be a gushing source of lost energy. So can a head that turns and looks in the wrong direction during the jump. Energy can also be lost if the body leans too far forward or back just before the straightening process. In fact, any misalignment or loss of balance can divert energy and compromise jump height.
During the vertical jump, remember: All the combined forces gathered in each muscle must flow directly down the body through the core and toward the ankles. If this happens, all the conditions will be in place for a beautiful and impressive vertical jump.
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