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Jumping is a useful skill in sports like basketball and a great way to work on your explosive power. If you want to jump higher and better, we have some tips for you.
Test your vertical jump
Before you start working on your jumping ability, establish a baseline by figuring out what your vertical jump is. Sometimes gyms have a device to do what it looks like a series of flat blades on hinges. They reach up and try to knock them out of line. The highest one you’ve moved marks the top of your jump.
But when you are at home, there are low tech ways to test. Ball up a piece of duct tape with the sticky side out and tape it to your fingertip. Jump next to a wall and hit the wall on top of your jump to glue the ball to the wall. The difference between the ribbon ball and the tallest one you can reach while standing is the height of your vertical jump.
Another easy way to test that works well on outdoor walls is to just apply some chalk (pick up chalk or chalk on the sidewalk, whatever) to your fingertip. Touch the wall while standing and again while jumping, then measure the difference.
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Learn to land properly
If you are going to jump a lot, make sure you do it safely. Land gently and absorb the force of your landing with your knees and hips bent into a very light squat. Your knees should not collapse when you land or take off, and your feet should be about hip-width apart. Here is a video demonstration of the safe landing principles.
It’s also important not to jump a lot if you’re not used to it. Landing jumps is tough on your body and you need to exercise slowly to get your body used to full plyometric training.
While jumping exercises will improve your jumping skills and help you develop strength, you will still need weight training to develop strength. The stronger your legs, the higher you can jump.
USA basketball recommends The drop bar deadlift is the best exercise for building strength to jump. This is a movement that is sort of a hybrid between the squat and deadlift, and builds strength in your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. The technique is also relatively easy to learn.
If you don’t have access to a trap bar, make sure you have some other heavy leg exercises in your routine. Squats, deadlifts, and lunges are some of the most useful.
Power is not exactly the same as strength. Strength refers to force exerted quickly over time. Jumping itself is a strength exercise, but other strength exercises can help you build strength without the effects of actual jumping.
Despite the name, powerlifting is not suitable. The squat, bench, and deadlift strength are usually not done quickly. One exception that might help with jumping are speed deadlifts. They are exactly what they sound like. Deadlifts are quick and easy. (Sets of three repetitions, say 60% of your max.) Kettlebell swings also work on strength, especially if you make them heavy.
Olympic lifts are classic examples of strength training. The tearing and cleaning and jerking are the lifts performed in competition, but their variations can be useful as part of an exercise program. Perhaps you’ve done Power Clean, Power Snatches, or One-Handed Dumbbell Snatches. All of this requires a quick explosive lift that requires your legs to press against the floor to get your body into an upright position and then immediately bend over to absorb strength – much like what you ask your body to do when jumping .
If you want to jump better, you actually have to jump. Try some or all of the steps below, but make sure you don’t overdo it on your first day. Work some of these into your routine over time:
- Squat jumps
- Tuck jumps
- Split jumps (like a lunge but alternating feet with each jump)
- Long jumps (as far forward as possible)
- Box jumps
Overcome your fear of box jumps
Box jumps are a special category because there is a bit more going on than just jumping. First, note that very high box jumps often have less to do with your jumping ability than with your ability to pull up your knees to prevent landing. For this reason, many coaches prefer to keep people on medium sized boxes rather than jumping higher and higher.
Second, they can be intimidating. To overcome your fear, start with a very small box to build trust. Even if you’re jumping on an aerobic step or bumper plate on its side, this is still a start. We have a few You can find more tips on box jumps here, take a look and jump!