This is a guestpost by Arne Gahmig. Make sure to check out his blog!
Speed, endurance, an accurate shot and a high jump: it is safe to say that these four aspects make up the quality of a successful basketball player. The first three are easy enough to improve through repetition and consistency. You might say that throwing technique is not made up for by repetition; however, a bad shooting technique can be overridden by the player getting used to it. Accuracy depends largely how familiar one is with a certain technique. In contrast, being able to jump high is something that relies heavily on the repetition of the CORRECT technique. On top of this, naturally we need to enhance the means by which we exercise this technique and reduce the factors that reduce the results, in other words: build the relevant muscles and lose the excessive weight.
The heavier we are, the more effort we have to make to get us into the air. It is for this reason that we must ensure that we lose the weight of our body that does not contribute to the jump, namely fat. Naturally this is a vital component to every aspect of sporting performance such as running. For this reason it is important to have a balanced diet which focuses on creating a lean body. Therefore, usually a high protein diet is advised with the exception of a boost of carbohydrates before a game to allow the body to have immediate energy rather than relying on stored energy that is produced by proteins.
As you will have already guessed, the muscles required for a high vertical jump are the legs and core body muscles. So, what are some exercises that you should focus on to get some results?
The main one that is a must is squats. If you do no other exercise do this one. It is the most all round complete routine.
It works a vast range of muscles in your legs as well as body core. It is also simple to increase the intensity of the exercises through increased repetitions or by adding weight.
Lunges are another great exercise which can be increased in intensity with weights. By twisting the upper body at the bottom of the lunge, we can also work the core body simultaneously.
Tip-toes are admittedly focused on a very specific muscle, namely the calves. However, as every little helps, the calves are the last component of the vertical impulse and therefore important to not be neglected in order to get the maximum efficiency of our energy input to the very end.
These are only a few specific exercises. It is important to note that jumping is a plyometric exercise. In other words, a large burst of energy in a fraction of a second. In order to improve this energy output we must focus on hard sets of short intervals. This means, rather than increasing the number of reps in the exercises, it is preferable to increase the resistance instead as the increase of repetitions will improve your stamina and not your strength. A very specific exercise that will do this is sprints. Your sprint and your vertical jump will improve in relation to eachother.
This aspect is very difficult to explain with only words. The best way to describe it is to treat the body as a pendulum on a spring. Your arms will swing like a pendulum to create inertia. As soon as that inertia is directed upwards, the rest of our body acts like a spring going from a compressed position into complete elongation.
Step by step this will be as follows:
Assuming we are starting from a standing (not running) position. The arms are behind the body, knees bent and the upper body slightly bent over. The arms start swinging forward. As the hands pass the body, the upper body starts to straighten up as do the legs. Ideally, as the hands are moving vertically upward, the body has stretched out and the toes are just about to leave the ground after giving a last push off the ground. The arms will continue to rise in the air until we have as much distance as possible from our toes to the fingertips. A position we are going to be aiming for anyway if we are blocking a shot. Naturally the part corresponding to the arms will vary when we are taking the shot.
I hope this insight to the most important aspects to watch out for in vertical jump training has been helpful. Good luck!