While most sports have their fair share of tension and excitement, there are few that have the same levels of intensity, passion, and physical requirements as basketball. When we say requirements, you might think we mean being tall, and while that can certainly help, it is not how many inches they are on height chart that defines a basketball player’s ability. Instead, the ability to jump higher than an opponent is often what decides whether you score the points or not.
Why is Jumping Higher Important?
There are lots of attributes that you need to have to be a good basketball player, and height isn’t necessarily one of them. Some of the finest basketball players in the history of the game were not what you’d describe as giants. Examples include Isaiah Thomas at 5 feet, 8 inches, Earl Boykins at 5 feet, 5 inches, and Muggsy Bogues at a diminutive 5 feet, 3 inches.
What counts more than your height, is the height you can reach when you jump. If you can jump 6 inches higher than your direct opponent then even if they are 5 inches taller than you, you are going to reach the ball before they do. Taking this a stage further another important factor is how quickly you can jump to a certain height. Of the two players who are capable of jumping to a particular vertical height, it will be the one who can reach that height the quickest who wins.
Within a basketball game, there will be many plays where a vertical jump is vital such as interceptions, collecting rebounds from the backboard, and of course scoring by dunking the ball into the net. To find out more about how your jump can be improved so that you are the one doing the scoring for your team, check out ‘The Jump Manual,’ which has lots of exercise routines and advice to make it happen.
Measuring Your Vertical Jump
As with anything that you want to improve, you need to know what your starting point is. For vertical jumping, you need to measure your jump so that you can compare future jumps in terms of your improvement. The easiest way to do this is to use a wall, and you will also need a marker, a ladder, a measuring tape, and a friend or training partner.
First, you want to stand next to the wall, and stretch your arm up as high as you can. Where your fingertips reach the highest point, your friend, while standing on the ladder, should mark this point. Then make several vertical jumps and stretch your arm upwards to try to reach as high as you can. Your friend should be looking to see which of them is the highest jump, and then mark it for you.
Now measure the distance between your standing reach and your highest jumping reach. The difference equates to your standing vertical jump, which is the benchmark that you are going to be trying to improve upon.
Committing Yourself to Improvement
To improve any aspect of your life you need to be committed to making that improvement, so before you start the exercises take a few moments to get your mindset in the right place. You must believe that you can jump higher, because if you do not, then it is going to be a lot more difficult to make progress. To make it more tangible try to visualize game scenarios where you see yourself jumping higher than the player you are in opposition to. Better still, imagine yourself scoring with that winning dunk because you could jump higher than you can now.
5 Exercises to Jump Higher
Here are 5 simple exercises that you can add to training routines that are specifically designed to improve your vertical jump. As always you should do a proper warm-up first to loosen your muscles and joints and avoid the chances of pulls and strains.
Given that they are the last part of your body in touch with the floor, toes play a more important role in jumping than you may think. They can provide that last bit of push-off power you need. To strengthen them stand on one leg with your foot on the edge of a flat edge such as a flat solid box or a bench. Then push your toes down and then curl them back up as far they can go. Do these 10 times and then do the same with your other foot.
You’d be amazed at how much progress you can make simply by practicing the very action you want to improve. So, on a basketball court jump as high as you can and touch the backboard, noting where your fingers reach each time. One way to condition your mind during this exercise is to imagine you are leaping to dunk the ball in the net.
This is a good exercise to help strengthen your leg muscles and your stability for when you take off and land. Standing on one leg jump to your right as far as you can and focus on your balance when you land. It is also useful if you try to land as softly as you can as this improves your stability. Now jump to the left. Repeat this for 10 reps on each leg.
For this, you’ll need a set of boxes or similar which are stable and capable of safely supporting your weight. Start by jumping onto the smallest box from a standing start, and off it again. Repeat several times and try it with a slightly larger box. A key technique with this is trying to get your knees as close to your chest as you can during each jump
This can be done either with a set of weights to improve your strength or without, which will help with your balance and stability. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and then slowly squat down and hold for 3 seconds before raising yourself up again. Repeat these 10 times for each session. Remember that your heels must be flat on the floor at all times.
If you’d like even more exercises and routines to help you jump higher to dunk then go to ‘The Jump Manual’ where you will find lots of advice and techniques to improve your jumping.