How to Increase Your Vertical Jump (Your Complete Step by Step Plan)
How would your hoops game change if you added several inches or more to your vertical leap?
For most players, it's the difference between finishing over defenders with strength or getting swatted into the bleachers...
Between skying for an offensive board and put-back or being overpowered by your man.
And it's also a fork in the road.
Between another "average" season...
Or a season where teammates, coaches and opponents turn their heads in disbelief wondering where and when you got those hops.
Who doesn't want to jump higher, play above the rim, and overwhelm opponents with their strength, speed and athleticism?
But in the race for a 40-inch vertical, getting faster, and getting stronger... we see a lot of young athletes making mistakes that:
- Hold back their vertical jump, "functional" strength, and overall athleticism.
- Put them at risk for injury as their bodies develop.
Just one small example, a common vertical jump killer is poor core strength.
Many players don't realize their core is crucial to their vertical (and explosiveness and agility).
Vertical jump and running depends on the transfer of energy...
Yes, your legs start the chain...
But if there's an energy leak from the ground to your upper body (like a weak core)...
You'll never jump as high...
Even though you trained hard and thought you did everything right.
In fact, weak core muscles are just ONE surprising vertical jump killer...
Many others (like poor mobility and force production) are regularly overlooked by players, coaches and trainers...
Causing athletes to fall short of their potential...
And putting them at greater risk for injury and muscle imbalance.
But you can avoid these issues...
By following the powerful "Pyramid of Development" training approach and the step by step process we're about to share with you.
In this article, you're going to learn step by step:
- A proven and complete 5 step process to improve your vertical jump
- The secret to instantly improving your vertical leap (yes it's possible!)
- The best vertical jump exercises you should start right away
- How to structure your workouts the right way (the same way top DI programs do)
But before we get into that, let's first address the elephant in the room...
Do "Jump" Programs Really Work?
Surely, you've seen the latest "jump" programs?
You know, the ones that look just a little too good to be true...
With hundreds of "testimonials" and screenshots...
Promising that anyone and their brother can be throwing down 360 windmill dunks by next weekend.
Well the truth is that not every player has the physical gifts to be a vicious dunker.
99% of players will never have a 40-inch vertical, no matter how hard they train.
And it's highly unlikely you'll double your vertical jump with those programs in the next 12 weeks.
Anyone who tells you different is out to SELL YOU something (that probably doesn't work as advertised).
Even worse, many of these programs ignore key movement skills you need to actually dominate on the court...
And they overtrain certain muscle groups and ignore others...
Leaving you open to injury and limiting your potential gains.
So as tempting as they may sound, instead of using the "jump" programs, you should use the same approach top D-I schools like University of Kansas use to turn their players into dominant athletes.
I'll share more details about that in a moment. But first let's get to the first step to improve your vertical jump the right way...
How to Improve Your Vertical Jump
(Your Step by Step Plan)
Step 1 - The Vertical Jump Test
The first thing you should do is "measure" your vertical. This gives you a baseline so you can monitor your improvements, understand what actually works and provide motivation to continue improving.
You should measure 2 foot standing jump, 2 foot approach jump, and 1 foot approach jump.
Here's a video explaining the test (if you have equipment):
If you do not have equipment, check out this detailed article How to Measure Your Vertical Jump that shows you how to measure both with or without equipment.
Once you complete the test, write down the results. Then re-test after trying "step 2" below and then every 3-5 weeks of your workout program.
Step 2 - Optimize Your Jumping Form for Instant Gains
What if there was a way to instantly add inches to your vertical without doing a single exercise?
Most players start with plyometrics or weight training to get stronger and more explosive.
But the fastest and easiest way to increase your vertical jump is by perfecting your jumping technique.
And you don't need to be a head-turning athlete to see these gains.
Here are 3 form corrections you can make right away to start jumping higher...
Tip #1: Don't break at the waist
Many athletes underestimate how much the hips affect vertical jump.
But tapping into the power of your hips with proper technique can immediately improve your hops.
We see a lot of players bending forward significantly at the waist as they run into their jump.
This creates a major energy inefficiency, where the momentum that could carry them UP ends up carrying them forward ...
And holds down their vertical as a result.
Take a look at some highlight clips from any vicious dunker.
You'll see their hips and core strong and engaged...
With very little bend forward at the waist.
Staying strong through the hips and core makes you more energy efficient.
Which means more of the force generated by your lower body gets translated to your vertical jump height.
Tip #2: Accelerate into your jump
A lot of players hurt their vertical by slowing down right before they leap.
Some examples of this are:
- Reducing speed to gather themselves
- Stutter-stepping to get their footing right
- Coming in from an angle that requires them to turn before jumping
Any deceleration before your jump will kill your momentum and reduce the amount of force you're able to create.
Instead, focus on picking up speed as you approach your jump.
You want to hit your Maximum Controlled Velocity right before you step into your launch which we'll talk about in just a second.
(Your Maximum Controlled Velocity is simply the fastest speed you can run while still maintaining control over your movements.)
Tip #3: Utilize the Penultimate Step
Track and field athletes put a lot of focus on their penultimate step, but it's often overlooked as a way for basketball players to improve their vertical jump.
This is a signature element in the form of every great leaper, and perfecting your penultimate step can cause dramatic gains in your jumping ability.
What is the penultimate step?
It's the second-to-last step before you jump.
As you approach your jump, you want to take a longer stride in your penultimate step, followed by a shorter stride in your final step before launching.
Your penultimate step will lower your center of gravity...
And your shorter final step will springboard you into the air.
This lets you fully capitalize on your momentum to maximize your lift.
Step 3 - Improve Your Coordination & Movement Efficiency
Most programs skip this step. But it is paramount.
This is the foundation of your athletic development. This is the first thing your "workout program" should address.
You need to develop balance, posture, mobility, stability and efficient movement patterns...
Watch this short clip explaining a few key aspects of mobility and posture:
In addition to mobility and posture... you need to work on you your balance, core strength (bracing) and movement patterns.
The single leg squat hold is a good foundational exercise to get you started:
For the single leg squat hold, you need sufficient hip/ankle mobility, balance, control.
It's important to be able to control your core and brace, while moving efficiently.
This doesn't need to be complicated. With some direction, it's actually simple. You just need to start with the right workout exercises, do them properly, and then move on to the next progression.
Step 4 - Improve Your Strength & Force Production
The next element of your foundation is strength.
Strength is one of the most important factors to improving your vertical jump. This is why so many football players have insane verticals. They are strong!
Before you start explosive plyometrics, you need to develop adequate strength in your lower body, core, and upper body.
This means you start increasing load and adding resistance to your exercises.
Strength is a key element to jumping higher and improving athleticism.
The first step in force production is managing the force. The snap down is a great exercise for force management...
Those are just a few exercises to get you started. Improving your strength will help you jump higher. But there's more you can do...
Step 5 - Improve Speed and Explosiveness!
Once you have a strong foundation established, you add the force speed and explosiveness elements.
Ankle bounding is an excellent plyometric exercise:
The tuck jump is another example of an explosive exercise:
Putting it All Together -- The BEST Workout to Improve Your Vertical Jump and Athleticism
The key to making this work is a great workout program designed by someone that knows what they're doing. And you need to follow it... using proper technique and following the instructions closely.
Written by Cody Roberts, a highly-respected performance coach and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Iowa.
- The surprising secrets D-I trainers use with their players (that most athletes have never heard of)
- Training methods that make sure your workouts translate to REAL RESULTS on the court
- How to incorporate the Pyramid of Development into your workout program to enhance your results
- 6 dynamic exercises you can use immediately (with video tutorials)