An excellent guide explaining the body mechanics behind a vertical jump as well as a guide to proper jumping technique and training for a higher jump. Read it and learn how to jump higher for whatever you need this ability for…enjoy.
There are several things you must understand before you try to learn how to jump higher. I spent a long time of my life perfecting the jump. I come from a background of basketball, track & field, skateboarding, and LIGHT gymnastics so it definitely works. Part of may be scientifically proven, part of it may not.
What happens during a high jump….
The max height of your vertical jump is achieved only by efficient use of all the power in your body at once. A jump starts with the body compressed halfway with major joints like your back, hips, and knees bent. Your arms hang low ready to aid the high jump. At the compressed state, your muscles are tensed and loaded with energy ready to burst. Right before liftoff, your body prepares by lifting the ankles off the ground and your head looks up, aimed up to lead your body into the sky. The power starts at the core of your body and explodes all over as every muscle in your body pushes all at once working together for the high jump. Your upper thighs shoot up straight pushing your whole body while your calves push hard rolling your heels off the ground. Your lower and upper back spring up. Your dangling limbs such as your head and arms flail up and reach for the sky pulling your body further up into the air. Your body is now less pushing and more relaxing and more about reaching.
On to the training and actual jumping technique.
TECHNIQUE – Do not forget that the body moves all at once to deliver the maximum height of the jump. If your legs are quick but your back is slow to spring up, you will lose on the height of the jump. Most people actually have a very weak back so you’ll have to train it for power! A good strong back doesn’t just spring up fast but it also drops fast as well. Do keep in mind that your jump is generated by 3 different muscles, your back muscles, your upper leg muscles, and your calve muscles. The most common mistake that people focus too much on building is their calve muscles for jumping. If you actually lock your knees and try to jump using only your calves, you’ll quick notice that your calves can only jump you about 4-5 inches high if not less. Your upper legs actually power most of the jump height. Your back however can also jump. You can see for yourself by bending over at the waist and lifting your toes so that you’re awkwardly bent over and balancing on your heels. From here, straighten out your back fast so that your back is springing your body off the ground. You’ll realize that your back muscles can jump you about as high as your calve muscles.
ON TO THE JUMP TRAINING….
Forget about calf raises…just walk around all day long on the balls of your feet and make sure your heels never touch the ground! Yes, do it all day. The first couple days it will hurt like well but soon your body and calves will adjust to it giving you monster strength/stamina there. Make you can get some old shoes and rip off the heel and walk around at home all the time. You don’t have to be tippy-toe like a ballerina, just make sure your heels don’t touch the ground. You should also go running on the balls of your feet. ALWAYS run on the ball of your feet. Especially on flat ground or uphill. Do it on the grass if the concrete hurts too bad.
Forget about weights…you’re looking for power, not strength. Lifting weights makes you get big and slow and use up more oxygen meaning you get tired faster. Also when you use weights it only trains you to be effective when you jump in the exact same direction and range of movement. What you want is overall increase in jump height no matter what angle you jump from. For more proof compare the legs of a bodybuilder versus a high-jumper’s. The jumper’s legs are well shaped and lean but very powerful and move quick. The bodybuilder’s legs are big and strong and can carry a car but they’re just not fast enough to really shoot them into the sky. Again, AVOID weights. Don’t lift weights, and don’t jump around with weight on you. You want RAW POWER, not strength.
Now, you should really do plyometrics….they are silly and slow-looking but they do help. Get a bucket or boxcrate or something and jump from the ground up and then down and then over and side to side or whatever but do those. They help!
Now comes the isometric part part….this is going to be awkard. Find a REALLY low ceiling or like a table that has a ton of stuff on it. Get under the table and bend your back over so that you’re like standing under the table bent over at the waist and the table is on your back as if your about to carry it. The table should also be low enough that you have to bend your knees so your knees can get into the push. NOW! Try to stand up and apply force against the table. (There should be enough weight so that you’re not actually lifting the table.) Push hard against the table for like 15 seconds and then release. Keep doing it. What this is doing is turning your body into like a rubber band. When you push hard but you don’t move, it’s like training your body to store up tons of energy and once the *hold* is released…KABAAM!!!, you fly up like a rubberband.
NOW…….time for the actual high jumping practice. First off, when you jump around on the court, you’re not doing it to good form because you’re probably too occupied with stretching with one arm and throwing your body out of balance so that you can reach the rim. Keep in mind that when you’re practicing your jumping, your goal is to get your CHEST as high as possible. OK! Let’s get to it. First, off get some open flat ground, practicing right by a basketball rim is nice BUT DON’T REACH FOR IT. Stretch your body out first or else you will pull a muscle.
THE RUN: Take a slow walking start towards the rim.
THE SETUP: After a couple steps, take a little jump forwards and land on the balls of your feet, you will compress your body halfway bending at the waist and knees but don’t compress all the way. During the small jump forwards, you will bend your elbows and hold your hands loosely near the sides of your head like a boxer’s defensive position. As your body is compressing into the position about to launch, you will breathe in with your nose and look at the ground. REMEMBER – you’re on the balls of your feet, hands loosely by the head, eyes on the ground, body about halfway compressed into a ball.
THE LAUNCH: Breathe out and EXPLODE towards the sky. As you do this, shoot your legs straight out and swing your hands down past your body till they are behind you as if they were rocket boosts. Your head will look up and your eyes will be facing the sun. You dont’ just jump straight up, but you jump a little straight up and also a little bit backwards. You also bend your back so that you are trying to get your chest to face the sky.
DURING HANGTIME: Do not try to reach higher with your hand…leave your hands down…instead, you should be reaching with your chest.
REPEAT and GOOD LUCK! Soon you will get the rhythm and combination of perfect arm, leg, head, and back movements to give you the best jump possible!
NOTE: an alternative way to use your hands to aid the jump is to point them low when you’re bending down and then to shoot them both straight up high and and stretch them back in the air as if they are trying to touch your feet bending backwards.
Thanks again for reading and come back periodically for more tips on how to jump higher!