For many, the vertical jump is the single best test of power and overall athleticism. Coaches often use this test as a quick indicator for athletic ability and on-field performance. For any athlete that is looking to stand out from the rest, a high jump is a guaranteed way to get any coach's attention. By applying these three strategies, you will quickly add inches to your vertical jump within minutes.
The first and easiest way to improve your vertical jump height is to work on your technique. As you descend into your load position, prior to jumping, it is important to stay balanced. In this position, you should maintain your weight on your midfoot with an equal amount of flexion through your ankles, knees, and hips. This load position should look very similar to the bottom position of a squat or deadlift.
Once you have mastered the basic position, you will want to begin utilizing your body’s stretch shortening cycle. This is your body’s natural “rubber band” mechanism that allows you to use the energy from a stretched muscle for an explosive concentric muscle contraction – think of a tennis ball, the harder you throw it into the ground, the higher it bounces back.
To train this mechanism, you will want to work on “pulling” yourself down as fast as you can. By doing this you stretch the muscles of the legs allowing the rubber band effect to take place. It is a good idea to practice this loading position 5-10 times prior to your vertical jump.
Improving hip and shoulder mobility benefits are twofold.
- Hip flexors and shoulder extensors tend to be overactive in many people. Tightness in these muscles can limit the force and speed of contraction in the prime mover muscles of the hip and shoulder. By stretching these muscles prior to jumping, you allow your prime mover muscles of the hip and shoulder to generate more power
- Tightness in your hips and shoulders, generally, causes excessive motion and weakness in your core. When your core is weak, your whole body is weak. By having proper mobility in your hips and shoulders, you allow your core to remain stable and strong.
Perform 1-2 sets of a hip flexor and lat stretch prior to jumping. Hold each stretch for 45-60 seconds.
Post activation potentiation (PAP) primes the body for explosive movement. By performing a heavy strength exercise prior to doing a vertical jump, the muscles of the body are better prepared to contract powerfully during the jump, allowing you to get slightly higher off the ground.
To take advantage of PAP, perform 1-3 reps of either a squat or deadlift with approximately 85-95% of your 1RM. Allow your body to recover for 3-10 minutes prior to performing your vertical jump.