For many, the Vertical Jump is the single best test of power and overall athleticism. Coaches often use it as a quick indicator of athletic ability and on-field performance. For any athlete looking to stand out from the rest, a high jump is a guaranteed way to get a coach's attention. By applying these three strategies, you will quickly add inches to your Vertical Jump within minutes.
The first and easiest way to improve your jump height is to work on your technique. As you descend into your load position prior to jumping, it is important to stay balanced. In this position, support your weight on your midfoot with an equal amount of flexion through your ankles, knees and hips. This load position should look like the bottom position of a Squat or Deadlift.
Once you have mastered the basic position, you want to use the stretch shortening cycle. This is your body's natural "rubber band" mechanism that allows you to use the energy from a stretched muscle for an explosive concentric muscle contraction. Think of a tennis ball: The harder you throw it into the ground, the higher it bounces back.
To train this mechanism, work on "pulling" yourself down as fast as you can. By doing this, you stretch your leg muscles, allowing the rubber band effect to happen. It's a good idea to practice this loading position 5-10 times prior to your Vertical Jump.
Improving your hip and shoulder mobility yields two distinct benefits:
- Hip flexors and shoulder extensors tend to be overactive in many people. Tightness in these muscles can limit the force and speed of contraction in the prime mover muscles of the hip and shoulder. By stretching these muscles prior to jumping, you allow your prime mover muscles of the hip and shoulder to generate more power.
- Tightness in your hips and shoulders generally causes excessive motion and weakness in your core. When your core is weak, your whole body is weak. Proper mobility in your hips and shoulders keeps your core stable and strong.
Perform 1-2 sets of a hip flexor and lat stretch prior to jumping. Hold each stretch for 45-60 seconds.
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Post activation potentiation (PAP) primes the body for explosive movement. Performing a heavy strength exercise prior to doing a vertical jump prepares your body's muscles to contract powerfully during the jump and allows you to get slightly higher off the ground.
To take advantage of PAP, perform 1-3 reps of either a Squat or Deadlift with approximately 85-95% of your 1RM. Allow your body to recover for 3-10 minutes prior to performing your Vertical Jump.
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