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How to Jump Higher

When I was a kid, I always wanted to dunk a basketball and I often pretended I was Michael Jordan. I was obsessed with jumping and first touched the rim my freshman year at 5 foot 2 inches tall. My sophomore year, I had grown three more inches, but I also had a huge crush on a girl. One day before basketball practice, she asked, “Hey, can you dunk?” and tossed me the ball. I had never dunked before, but uttered the words “I think I can” as my heart was beating out of my chest. With everyone watching and time moving slower than I had ever experienced, I went for it. At the peak of my jump, I heard a loud cheer and landed in disbelief that I completed my first dunk!

But when I got to college, I quickly realized I never learned how to properly jump. I tried out as a high jumper on the track team and found out there’s a right way and a wrong way… and surprise, surprise… my self taught techniques were off. My coach broke it down: you need to have a good plant, if you want a good jump.

Forces are always equal and opposite… right? The amount of force you apply to the ground, the ground applies back to your leg. If you wanted to jump higher, you simply manipulate the amount of force you apply to the ground. But it turns out it’s not that simple.

What goes into jumping:

  1. Positioning: How your body is placed in relation to where the force is being applied. Should your plant leg be in front of your body, behind your body, or directly underneath the body? (Only one of these answers is correct).

  2. Vectors: What is your magnitude and direction? The force has to have a direction AND be transferred correctly. (see picture). If force is not transferred correctly, there will not be an optimal jump.

  3. Speed of your jump: What rate do you approach takeoff? How long does it take your body to load and take flight? This is closely related to contact time.

  4. Timing of your jump: Do all your body parts move in sync? Are some components helping or hurting your jump?

  5. Contact time: How long is your plant in contact with the ground?

Did you know it takes 16 muscles to jump?

I’d list them all out, but the point is that jumping is more complicated than most people think. To jump higher, you need proper technique and targeted training to maximize your performance.

Here are 2 of our 16 drills we focus on to increase your vertical

Explosive step ups: Grasp the concept of recoiling and impulse jumps by getting off the ground as quickly as possible while applying maximum force on each jump.

  1. Place one foot on an elevated surface and the other foot on the ground.

  2. While keeping your arms fully extended overhead, push off the top leg to perform a jump. The harder you push off the top leg, the higher the jump.

  3. On the way down, make sure the top leg lands first, absorbing the landing. The back leg should do minimal work.

  4. Repeat

Midfoot hops: The first and most important part of jumping is learning to get off the ground and land properly. The goal is to apply as much force as possible to the ground to perform your maximum jump.

  1. Hop in place and try to land on the midfoot

  2. Keep your movements in sync by blocking your arms and pushing off the ground at the same time.

  3. Upon landing, your arms should return to their initial position. Meet the ground as the ground meets your feet.


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