How To Jump Higher - The Answer Is Simple

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You know it when you see it. The player in the gym with the Ups. Hops. Spring. It's hard to take your eyes off of him or her. Zion and Ja can get off the ground in a way that makes you sit up and take notice.

The high flyers are awe-inspiring and can impact the game with an offensive tip, a block from behind, a swooping lay-in (or a dunk, of course).

But there are also a large number of players who get everything they can from their ability and use it to be a more effective player in other ways...

Great rebounders aren't always the highest jumpers. They typically have the ability to time their jump, get back off their feet quickly and explode off two feet. Great finishers can throw off the shot blockers timing with a quick jump offer either foot or they "hang" in the air with body control and take physical contact.

So while jumping higher should be one part of your ongoing athletic development, don't get hung up on vertical leap as the most important goal.

The key is thinking about how to impact your overall athleticism.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be complicated to really improve your overall athletic development and specifically, your jumping ability. Becoming a better athlete overall will include maximizing your hops.

Start With a Plan and Some Measurements

The key to building long-term vertical gains is having a plan and taking it, literally, one jump at a time.

Think through the type of game that you have and how jumping plays a role in it...

More lift for more range on your jump shot? Finish in traffic? Get off your feet quickly for tips and rebounds? Shot Blocker? All of it?

Maybe it's a visual or a milestone. Touch the net, touch the backboard, and the HOLY GRAIL.. Touch The Rim. Then two hands on the rim and maybe, just maybe, a full-on throw down.

But don't see this goal as one Zion-sized leap, you're going to get there by being smart about it first and breaking it up into smaller goals.

In order to create some goals, we need to measure your vertical. We need a baseline, so to speak. You won't be able to know how you're doing unless you know where you started.

Vertical Jump Test (How to Measure Your Vertical Jump)

Some basic measurements are Standing Reach, Standing Vertical Jump and a Rapid Jump test.

Standing Reach

Before you measure, warm up. Stretch. Get your heart rate up. Do some layups. Take some jumpers.

Then measure yourself with feet flat standing next to a wall in sneakers.

Now standing sideways with your right shoulder touching the wall, reach as high as you can with your right arm while keeping your feet flat. Mark that spot and measure the height. Do the same for the left side.

The difference between the two numbers is your Standing Reach. According to, based on college and professional draft measurements, the average standing reach should be about 1.32 to 1.35 multiplied by your height.

Example: A 6 ft tall person (72 inches) should have a standing reach around 95 to 97 inches or about 8 feet.

Now remember, these are averages and baseline numbers, you are still growing, these numbers won't remain intact until you've reached full growth. But this will give you a sense of how long your arms are.

Standing Vertical

If you don't have a measuring machine for vertical jump available then you can do the wall test.

Same thought of standing next to a wall. You might want to put some chalk on your hands or use something you can stick against the wall.

Start from a knees-bent position. Leap off two feet. Touch the wall. Mark the spot and measure it. Try a few times to get the best one. Swing your arms to get lift. The key is to do it from a truly standing position, no steps at all.

The difference between where you touched the wall on your jump and your standing reach is your vertical jump.

According to the book "Norms for Fitness, Performance and Health", the average vertical jump for 13-14 year old boys is about 17 inches.

Rapid Jump

Another critical jumping ability in basketball is getting off your feet quickly. You can do a rapid reaction test to see where you stand.

Pick a spot against the wall or on the backboard or the net. If you have access to something measured, use that. Pick a spot that is about a foot above your standing reach.

Time yourself and see how many times you can touch that spot (if you miss, it doesn't count) in 15 seconds. That is a simple "Bounce" test. Once you start to develop, these measurements can become more in-depth. For now, keep it easy.

Keep track of those measurements because now it's time to start building.

Change The Way You Think About Training

If you've read this far, you're interested in being a better athlete. Good for you. What's been a point of emphasis so far?

Start with your mind set. Developing serious Ups will take some time, but it can be done. But you won't get there without taking that first leap of faith and know that starting with the basics will get you on a poster (maybe!) down the road.

Do you know that Ja Morant tire story? When he was in high school, he was only 5'7". His father, Tee Morant, got a tractor tire and created a jump drill with the tire. Tee said that after starting the tire drill, "(Ja's) bounce got crazy."

The key for Ja was that it was PART OF HIS TRAINING. He did the tire drill after EVERY OTHER DRILL. Point is you don't need sophisticated equipment or jumping off 4 foot boxes yet. What you need to do is focus on how you "train" as an athlete.

The fact of the matter is that jumping higher won't happen overnight and it can be a mistake to try to make gains too quickly.

Cody Roberts, an athletic development expert and currently the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Iowa, believes an athlete's desire to see fast results can lead to a bad outcome.

Roberts says avoid doing "too much, too soon" and dedicate time to training correctly first.

"Progression is important," Roberts said. Dynamic stretching, proper breathing and warm up and then moving towards increased load and resistance will provide the right foundation. Start with lower impact exercises to experience gains and then add increasingly more challenging exercises.

Roberts encourages his athletes to understand that muscular development shouldn't be the only focus. It's also critical to have the other infrastructure of the lower body - tendons, ligaments, etc.- be ready for growth.

He suggests using movement efficiency and coordination as the foundation of your program.

Here's a Secret: It's Simple to be a Better Jumper

The simple answer to "How Can I Jump Higher" is to build strength.

Physics tells us that it all comes down to force and energy.

According to

How do you actually go about jumping higher? The answer is in two parts:

  • Increased force output - How much strength or energy can be applied to the ground
  • Increased rate of force development - How quickly force can be produced and applied

The combination of these two is what allows someone to propel him- or herself from the ground to as high as possible.

Why Do College Football Players Typically Jump Higher Than Basketball Players?

That's right. Football players consistently outperform basketball players at draft combines in the vertical leap measurement. How? Again it's simple. Lower body strength is critical to create leverage and power.

Jumping higher is connected directly to the strength and conditioning of your entire lower half, including your core, hips, glutes, and legs.

A key, according to Roberts, is increasing "force production".

Focus On Force Production

According to, force production is the key to all sporting movements. Force will be greater if we have prepared the ability to produce it in the way that it is exerted during the exact sporting movement that we are trying to improve. Many sporting movements, like jumping, involve force production while muscles are lengthening, while they are contracting very quickly, and also while they are producing peak force at short muscle lengths.

Exercises To Jump Higher and Improve Force Production

Here are a few examples of exercises that build strength that translates into explosive jumping ability.

Warming Up Is Not A Waste Of Time

Engines need to warm up. So do human beings. Start your routine with an effective set of stretches and warm ups that get the body ready to maximize results.

Base Warm Up

It is important to properly warm up prior to every work out with a dynamic base warm up. This will get your core temperature up and get your body ready for an intense workout. You should perform 5-10 reps of each base warm up activity.

Lunge and Contralateral Reach Warm Up

This series begins with a transverse squat. The athlete works both up, across, and down motion. Your legs are wide and you work both right and left legs. 5 reps each exercise.

Spectrum legs

This series takes the athlete through several different loaded or body weight squat exercises. They work on proper foot pressure. Spectrum leg series will help the athlete as they get stronger and prepares them to jump higher.

Medicine Ball Series

The med ball series focuses on movement of the hips through a full range of motion to help make the athlete more dynamic. A dumbbell or plate can be substituted for a med ball in this series.

Box Drops

For this exercise you begin on a 12'-24" box, depending on the comfort and ability level of the athlete. The exercise is part of the force management series and helps prepare the athlete with solid base to explode into their jump.

Box Jumps

Box jumps develop help develop explosiveness in jumping. The athlete should explode as high as possible. They "stick" the landing with hands back, hips back, ready to explode off the ground again.

Jump Rope Series

Jump rope series adds variety to lower leg conditioning. This is great for fast twitch muscle development as well.

Single Leg Squat

A great exercise that help build strength and stability for the lower body, working one side at a time. This exercise helps strengthen smaller individual muscles on each side of the body. This can help prevent injury down the road.

Front Plank with Hip Extension

The front plank with hip extension with help improve hip stability and strengthen the glutes. This will result in reducing the stress and strain on the knee.

Final Thoughts on Jumping Higher

These will get you started. The key is start now but start smart. Take some time to plan and then some time to measure. Use exercises that you like doing and think "whole body". Think about your game - one foot, two foot.

Don't try anything that would risk injury as a quick fix. Build your power the right way. Then see yourself hang in the air in traffic and finish off the layup with contact. That's a baller.

For more exercises to jump higher and complete 12 week workout program, check out the Cody Robert's Athletic Development System.


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