How much hang time you can achieve is a direct reflection of your ability to apply maximal strength into the ground as quickly as possible, while being in the right biomechanical position for that particular jump (the body position for a two-footed jump is going to differ from one-footed, which is going to differ from a box jump). To add inches to your vertical, follow these three steps for a significant boost to your jumping abilities.
1. Start with Weight Training
Getting stronger will increase your force capability, or the potential you have to drive against the ground. Specifically, focus on building single-leg strength. This will help you learn to engage your glutes. And, considering most sports require contact with the ground one leg at a time, single-leg exercises can also help make you a better athlete.
2. Incorporate Uphill Sprints into your Training
These help develop a combination of speed and strength for lower-body explosive power. The incline forces you to pick up your knees and feet, and the landing is less traumatic on the joints than traditional plyometric exercises, simply because you’re that much closer to the ground when you’re going uphill. With my athletes, I do hill sprints on sand for the additional benefit of training foot and ankle stability on an unstable surface.
3. Add Plyometric Drills and Practice your Specific Jump
Since vertical jump tests can vary from sport to sport, make sure you’re practicing the one most applicable to you. Plyometric, or jumping drills, are a way of bridging the gap between strength and speed — they recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibers necessary for big air, and they teach the muscles and connective tissue to make a quick switch from the eccentric to concentric phase. Because of their ballistic (and thus inherently riskier) nature, you must strategically incorporate plyometric drills at the right time and in the right volume within a training cycle, or injuries are sure to occur.
Want to Train Like the Pros?
Now’s your chance to workout alongside NFL stars like Clay Matthews, Larry Fitzgerald, and Dwight Freeney. Gain access to hundreds of exercises taught by NFL stars and the exact workouts performed by some of the best athletes in the world. Click here to learn more.