Jumping Higher – The Why
Jumping Higher is one of the most widely valued physical attributes in modern sport. Whether you dunk, block, spike, or header a ball, jumping higher holds the key to success in many physical disciplines, not just in sport!
Athletes with an incredible vertical jump possess a significant advantage over others in sports such as basketball, volleyball, handball, track and field and plenty more! In events like hurdles and high jump, the advantages of someone able to jump higher are self-explanatory. For those playing volleyball, a high vertical jump allows for effectively blocking high ball trajectories and spiking that cannot be easily blocked. For basketball players, jumping higher allows them to shoot baskets without being dwarfed by the opponent. On the other hand, a high jump may allow a basketball player to swat the ball away, as high as the ring!
I’ve even seen scouts for sports like basketball recruit juniors simply because of their jumping ability!!
Jumping Higher – The How
Now that we’ve got the importance of jumping higher out of the way, what do we need to do to jump higher?
It is generally accepted that jumping higher involves a sharpened skill set (biomechanical technique) and a powerful physical condition. No matter how hard a person trains in the gym to improve on the height of his or her jumps, if he or she is not in performing what is effective technique in jumping higher, then that training will be in vain. You need both!
Sharpening the skill of jumping higher involves training and exercising the parts of the body involved in executing jumps towards power adaptations. At the same time, however, applying techniques aimed at improving how someone jumps is just as important.
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For athletes, especially for those involved in the sports mentioned earlier, this means exercising, training, and improving on technique the whole year round.
However, this does not mean that the training should be done every day. Intense training aimed at jumping higher, if done every day, can cause muscle fatigue and possible injury. Moreover, athletes in-season need to consider days when they would actually be playing the sport in competition, adding to the physical and mental stress on jump athletes. This brings light to the juggling act many jump coaches and sports coaches must face when planning a jump-athlete’s training week.
Take a look at a typical training week for a basketball player with the aim of jumping higher.
It is recommended that during off-season periods, exercises to improve on the vertical jump can be performed 3-5 times per week. This is simply because the jump-athlete has greater flexibility in their training week and more opportunities to recover from vertical jump training.
In-season, when the athlete actually plays the sport in competitive matches, vertical jump exercises may be done three times a week at most, and not during the game day. The idea of performing exercises for jumping higher is consistency in frequency without putting too much pressure and stress on the person trying to improve vertical jump height.
So, what should be included in a routine of exercises for jumping higher? Here are a number of points to remember:
Warm up is essential.
Jumping higher involves a high demand on the lower body muscles. Exercises aimed to improve on a jump’s height can be highly stressful on muscles and tendons. If the muscles are not warmed up properly, they may strain, leading to injury. A proper warm up may include any combination or all of the following, the execution of which may depend mainly on the athlete’s time constraints and sport:
- Light Aerobic Activity,
- Jumping Rope Activities
Performing Exercises Aimed at Jumping Higher in Moderation.
The operative words in this point are “in moderation.” As mentioned earlier, exercises for the improvement of a jump’s height involve the training of particular parts of the body, particularly the ones in the lower extremities. Body parts like the knees and ankles are quite vulnerable, but are also heavily trained in exercises for jumping higher. If coupled with playing a complete game, the muscles in these body parts may be over-trained, resulting to a breakdown in performance and muscular structure. Thus, the jumping exercises mentioned below should only be done at least a day before or after a game. In addition, the body’s muscles should be allowed sufficient time for rest and recuperation after an intense training session as well.
The following have been suggested, from multitudes of sports science research, to be highly effective exercises for jumping higher:
- Back Squat,
- Box Jumps,
- Explosive Calf Raises, and
- Single Leg Squat Jumps.
Again, the key to seeing results in these exercises for jumping higher is to do them consistently, but in a planned and sophisticated vertical jump training plan that allows the body to recuperate properly and avoid injury.
Remember, like Coach Law always drills into us, jumping higher is all about training smarter!
And don’t forget to leave a comment below!
JHS Guest Coach