The ability to jump high is an invaluable asset in basketball. When you are finishing for layups (or dunks) and grabbing rebounds, having that extra spring on your jump is definitely an advantage. That is why adding inches to your vertical jump could possibly raise your game to a different level. Fortunately, there are exercises and drills that can help you do just that. If you want to find out more about these, please read on so you’ll know how to jump higher.
How to Jump Higher: Breaking Down the Science Behind the Vertical Leap
There are many confusing things that you hear about improving vertical leap, but it all boils down to simple laws of physics. You have to increase your power relative to your body weight and you will raise your vertical jump.
That should be a simple concept to understand. In other words, you should be strong enough (or at least weighs low enough) to lift yourself up in the air. This is where the strengthening drills and exercises come in and in time, they should help you improve your vertical leap.
Now, let’s talk more about power. What is power? Power is “force” and “velocity” multiplied. Velocity is defined as the speed at which the jump is done and they are very quick movements. More often than not, vertical jumps happen in 0.2 seconds, literally in the blink of an eye.
Strength can be measured by, well, the maximum amount of weight that you can lift. Increase the amount of weight that you lift relative to your body weight and your vertical leap will improve.
Say, two persons can both lift and squat the same weight, but one is 50 pounds heavier, who can jump higher? If you’d say the lighter one, you are correct. If the man 50 pounds lighter generates the same amount of strength as the heavier guy, but he has a better power-to-weight ratio, then he can thrust himself higher into the air.
Another factor in vertical jumping is flexibility. If you are not flexible, you cannot get into the full range of motion or extension, when you jump. That significantly puts a cap on your leaping potential.
Muscled Used For Vertical Jumping
A vertical jump is the result of the extension of the knees, hips, and ankles. It only makes sense, then, that the muscles around these areas are used most when you are jumping. Here are the muscle names responsible for the triple extension:
- Glutes (maximus and medius) for hip extension
- Hamstrings for hip extension, flexing the knees, and impact protection
- Quads for knee extension
- Calves for ankle extension
- Core and abs for stability
How to Jump Higher: 7 Drills That Help Increase Vertical Jumps
I have already mentioned that increasing upper body strength and losing weight are surefire ways to get more inches on your vertical jumps. Now, let’s say you have done exactly that, are there any more things that you can do to increase explosiveness on your vertical jumps? You betcha! Take a look at 5 drills that can help you jump higher:
Because basketball involves a lot of lateral movements, changing directions, and pivoting, the lateral jumps are a very useful drill. The key here is to give 100% effort with minimal ground contact.
Doing jump squats enhances your explosiveness from the upper body down to your core. If you are new to this, bring yourself along slowly with the lower weights and slowly increase your way up.
The single-leg bound is a plyometric drill that helps improve explosiveness for athletes across different sports. You do it exactly as it sounds. Jump off of one leg as if you are doing long jumps. Repeat as many as you could.
The tuck jump is much harder to pull off than a jump squat. What you do is tuck your knees as high as you can when you jump and extend your legs back to catch yourself as you land. Doing this drill increases core strength, abdominal activity, and hip flexor activity.
This drill or exercise starts like a normal squat– hands forward and knees shoulder-width apart. What you do is jump facing the other direction and smooth into the squat position. Do it over a set amount of time or a definite number of repetitions.
The box jump is an exercise that develops your coordination and explosiveness. Expert jumpers use 24-inch boxes, but if you’re just getting used to this drill, bring yourself up slowly by using a 6-inch or a 12-inch box. The secret is to perfect the proper form so you don’t hurt yourself.
Depth jumps are one of the harder plyometric exercises that you can do. Standing from a box, you step right into the ground and quickly rebound into a jump.
Highest Vertical Jumps In The NBA
Few things excite basketball fans than someone soaring through the air for a dunk or an acrobatic layup. The NBA has been a breeding ground for such phenomenal athletes, but who are the cream of the crop, when it comes to jumping out of the gym? Let me give you several names:
Michael Jordan (48 inches)
You saw this one coming, didn’t you? There’s a reason why the guy is called “Airness.” Jordan, although unconfirmed, was said to have a 48-inch vertical jump– yes, a full four feet of extension.
Wilt Chamberlain (48 inches)
The Big Dipper, Stilt, or whatever you call him, Chamberlain was one of the original freak athletes. While his vertical jump was never measured, he said it was 46 to 48 inches easy. Now we don’t have anything scientific or solid to back up that claim. What we have are anecdotes, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility.
Darrell Grifftih (48 inches)
Dr. Dunkenstein was not the Hall of Famer hat MJ or Wilt was, but he carved himself a nice 11-year career in the NBA. What’s amazing is that Griffith was only 6-foot-4! If you wondered who was Donovan Mitchell paying tribute to in the Dunk Contest, this is the guy.
Jason Richardson, Zach Lavine, James White, and Spud Webb
All of these guys are said to have 46 inches of flight. I say they must be separated by a decimal here or there, but let’s leave it at that.
Bottom Line: How to Jump Higher in Basketball
We are all a product of physical and natural laws so when it comes to jumping, abide by these laws and you’re in business. In short, if you have the strength and the velocity (with as little body weight as possible), you’ll jump higher. That way you can generate way much power to lift yourself off the ground. To increase that power, a great weight-training program will help you achieve that.
Jumping is also about flexibility and leg strength. Featured in this article are several plyometric exercises that are proven to increase leg strength, thereby improving the explosiveness needed for a vertical jump. I named 7 exercises here so you better check them all out if you want to know how to jump higher in basketball.