Stretching

A common limiting factor in athlete’s jump is elasticity in their muscles. To get the best jump you want to be able to

  1. Have the right form (jump correctly)
  2. Have the right strength
  3. Have the right conditioning

Becoming more flexible helps with point #1. If you are unable to crouch properly because your hips, quads, or ankles are tight, you won’t be able to get into the optimial pre-jump stance which allows you to spring upward.

If your feet and ankles are not elastic enough, you won’t get the full range of motion that helps you maximize your spring. You can think about this like a bow and arrow (traditional, not the modern bows with multiple gears and levers). Bows that have the right strength + flexibility are able to send the arrow the furthest. The flexibility is a key part. It allows the bow to hold more tension without breaking (potential energy) and optimal spring back.

Tip:

First work on increasing your range of motion through stretching.

  • Hips
  • Quads
  • Calves
  • Ankles
  • Feet

Then work on strength at the extremities. Do this lightly, especially at first.

  • Hips – deeper lounges or squats at low weight
  • Quads – same as above
  • Calves – focus on the beginning (when ankle angle is small and toes are pointed up) and on the end (when ankle angle is biggest and toes are pointed down)
  • Feet – do some sand or grass running to strengthen your feet. You can also do some simple toe / foot strengthening exercises on the ground as shown below.

Jumping Rope

This is a basic one, almost everyone has done.

Here’s what you may not know:

  • The calf action is a huge part of your jump
  • Most jumper’s can get an extra few centimeters quickly by strengthening their calf, ankle, and feet
  • Yes, your feet help too – imagine the action of your foot in a slow jumping motion. First your heel leaves the ground (calf work) then the ball of your foot (still calf work) then your final lead off should be with your big toe (foot work)

Here’s an extra tip:

  • Doing double-unders can help you focus more on your lift
  • You have to jump higher to get two revolutions of the rope so it makes you work, rather than just skipping only a few centimeters off the ground
  • This will also help you with building cardio
  • Watch the hang time in this video to see the proper form and note how it can translate into an improved jumping motion

The Wall Ball

This crossfit exercise is great for jump training because it strengthens your legs while mimicking the same crouch and explode movement you’ll make when jumping. A surprising benefit of this exercise is your arm action. The catching and throwing helps you coordinate your arms with your legs (timing is critical for maximum jump).

The Wall Ball

The exercise can be incorporated into a circuit including a few other leg-focused explosion exercises such as jumping rope and sprints.

A decent substitute if you don’t have the right equipment is air squats or goblet squats with a full extension at the end.

How To: Improve Your Vertical Jump

This quick guide to jumping higher will walk you through 4 ways you can increase your vertical jump.

But first, you need to find a way to measure your improvement.

Find your starting point by using:

  1. Vertec – a vertical jump measuring device (if possible).
  2. Other – anything that will allow you to guage your jump. You could put some chalk on your finger tips, then jump up and touch a wall.

4 techniques you can use to increase your vertical jump:

Technique 1: Use your arms more effectively

Your arms are a considerable driver in your jump and should be used to lift your body. You should be using them in unison with your jump to get max lift.

  • Start with your arms overhead like you’re a diver at a swimming pool
  • Bring your arms down quickly when you go into your crouched squat position, loading your spring.
  • Increase the speed of your arms moving up when you jump to lift your body.
  • Still use your dominant arm to reach for your height goal (not both hands).

Technique 2: Keep your extended arm straight at the apex of your jump

If you’re pulling your arm back, it will take away a few centimeters from your top point. This tip is most applicable for official jumping tests where you’re using the vertec. If your measuring your jumping height for a performance evaluation, every cm counts.

  • Some people have a tendency to pull their arm back, causing them to lose height in their jump.
  • Practice keeping your arm straight.
  • Remember the vertical jump test is different than jumping during sports. Keep that in mind and practice accordingly.

Technique 3: Adjust your starting squat

This simple adjustment provides some of the biggest immediate improvements. Most people start with a wide squat which detracts from your jump. A wide squat lowers your standing height, which translates into a lower launching point.

  • Try This: Stand with your legs about 1 meter apart, then squat and jump. Then, stand with your legs together, then squat and jump. Which jump was higher?
  • The best position for your feet is just inside your hips.
  • Keep your back flat as you squat down, maintaining proper form and increasing you chance that your body is at its longest when you reach for your height record.

Technique 4: Prepare properly by stretching

Most people have tight hips which limits their ability to squat down into a spring position, then release with maximum power. Stretching just beforehand can give you a larger range of motion and increase your jump height.

  • Stretch your hips regularly to maintain flexibility.
  • Stretch your hips as a warm up just before your jump to increase your range of motion.

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