In the past 30 years, basketball has evolved into a game where creativity and athleticism rule. Highlights now consist of spectacular dunks and amazing feats of creativity while airborne. Some basketball legends have even made their name through dunks and crowd pleasing stunts. Of course, none of this can be accomplished without jumping high.
To jump is to defy gravity by applying force towards the ground and overcoming resistance. In layman terms, this means you have to increase the force applied to the ground and minimize resistance.
There are two factors which determine force: maximal strength and speed. Maximal strength is the force generated in one all-out effort. The only way to test maximal strength is to perform a 1RM. (1RM refers to a lift so heavy, the lift can only be performed once)
Maximal strength can be trained by means of increasing muscle mass and by increasing your body’s ability to recruit more motor units in your muscles. This can be done by focusing on heavy lifts which is done for low repetitions and many sets followed by some ‘bodybuilding’ work. High repetitions of 3 sets will give enough volume for the muscle to grow.
Speed refers to the speed of contraction of the muscle fibers or in other words, speed-strength. The rate of force development can be trained by means of plyometrics and by lifting sub-maximal weights as fast as possible. Training for maximal strength has also shown to improve speed-strength.
When training for speed-strength, it is important to note the speed in which you perform the concentric phase of the exercise. The concentric phase of the lift should be explosive and fast. Repetitions should be kept below 6 so as to prevent your nervous system from blowing out.
Resistance in jumping comes from gravity. Gravity exerts force on mass to the Earth and since mass is measured by weight, bodyweight is the one factor we can manipulate to reduce resistance.
First of all, weight management should not be approached by starving yourself in a silly attempt to reduce your weight. Some of you might have realized by now that muscle weighs more than fat. Although this is a fact which may sound contradictory, experience has shown that when you put on quality muscle, you will jump higher. As such, the only weight you should lose is useless fat. Clean up your diet and start educating yourself about proper nutrition. Single-digit body-fat percentage would be optimal for an athlete.
Power in this case, does not mean the status of a person. It refers to the ability to move your body as a whole when transmitting force applied. The core muscles (lower back, abs, oblique) is important so as to ensure proper transference of power output from your body to the ground. Training your core is important and should not be neglected. Olympic lifts can be used also as they can teach an individual how to use the entire body’s mechanics at once.
Olympic lifts should be done before your main exercises in your workout. They require special attention to technique as improper technique can cause serious injuries. Repetitions should not exceed six so as not to fatigue the nervous system.
Technique is an underrated factor in jumping. Many athletes who possess the ability to dunk diminish inches from their vertical jump by jumping with wrong technique.
When getting ready to jump, you should descend down fast and only dip ¼ the way down. This takes advantage of the stretch reflex and will propel you upwards higher. When dipping down to position before jumping, your buttocks and hips should be moving only. Think of it as sitting on a chair, your hips break first before your knees. Ideally, your knees should not past your toes and the motion should have no pause at all.
Arm swings account for about 15% of your potential vertical jump. You should vehemently swing your arms backward while dipping down into position and swing it back up wards when jumping.
Technique must be practiced to ensure that you tap into your full vertical jump potential. You should aim to have at least 20 repetitions in a day once a week.
Jumping high in basketball will allow you to dominate your opponents by opening new possibilities in your game. If you are willing to put in the effort, you will jump higher and play better as a whole.