Wanna Jump Higher? 3 Ways to Improve Vertical Jump

By Brett Klika, C.S.C.S. Director of Athletics, Fitness Quest 10

One of the most common questions I get as an athletic performance coach is “How can I/my child, improve my/their vertical jump?”  The most effective intervention would be to travel back in time and select a man and a woman with superior vertical jump abilities to parent either you or your child. In short, genetics is by far the greatest determining factor in an individual’s vertical jump ability.  Since time travel is not currently available (to the general public) we have to work with what we’ve got.  Here are the 3 most effective tried and true ways to improve vertical jump.

1.  Improve strength-to-weight ratio.  The vertical jump involves culminating muscle force quickly to propel body weight off the ground against gravity.  If the muscle force ability is low and the body weight is high, gravity will win.  Proper nutrition, frequent activity, and developmentally appropriate resistance training will aid improving strength and decreasing excess weight.  Get stronger, get leaner.

2.  Work on jumping technique.  There are biomechanically advantageous positions in which to jump as well as land.  Proper arm action alone can account for 20% of vertical jump ability.  Quite often, there are strength and mobility limitations that can limit the body’s ability to go into biomechanically advantageous position to jump.  For example a proper bodyweight squat is a pre-requisite to vertical jump technique.  If you don’t have the strength or mobility to do the first one right, you won’t be able to do the second one right.  Work on jumping and landing in proper squat position, then progress from there. Click here for a video on vertical jump technique. Do it right to do it better.

3. Jump!  Make sure to incorporate plyometrics into your program.  Think of your plyometric training in two phases:  Plyo prep and max effort plyometrics.  Plyo prep is activities like jumping rope, hurdle hops, and repeated sub-maximal jumps, hops, skips, etc.  These function to prepare the involved tendons, ligaments, and muscles for the force demands of jumping and landing.  These activities help you get off the ground quicker, not necessarily higher.  Max-effort plyometrics are those that require a near-maximal effort to achieve.  High hurdle hops, high box jumps, high backboard touches and other jumping activities in which you have to achieve a certain height criteria are examples.  You may even add resistance through bands, cords, or external weight.  This functions as “practice” for propelling your body against gravity with a true maximum effort. Maintain technique.  Practice makes perfect!  Youth should perform plyo prep activities for quite some time with proper technique prior to max effort work.

There is no “magic” machine, device, program, or funny-looking shoe that supersedes any of the above.  Get in shape, jump correctly, and practice it with intensity and frequency.  Unless, of course, you have access to a time machine.

Brett Klika C.S.C.S., Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10, is a human performance specialist, motivator and educator. A graduate from Oregon State University, Brett has directed sport camps all over the nation. While in college, amidst playing club soccer and lacrosse, Brett worked with the strength and conditioning department for 3 years. A year long resident sports performance internship at the Olympic Training Center brought Brett to San Diego. Brett’s work with the Olympic athletes, as well as local high school athletes nurtured a passion for creating excellence in individuals.

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About kylesands
Director of Marketing at Fitness Quest 10

2 Responses to Wanna Jump Higher? 3 Ways to Improve Vertical Jump

  1. Very nice article. Genetics can really suck. Trying to get to a 30″ vertical, but also still trying to get to 6′. I’m only 37, so there’s still hope.

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