As an athlete, your success in your sport depends on a number of movements that you perform, and how fluidly you can perform each of them. Knowing how to jump higher than your opponents is one such movement that holds the key to winning in many sports.
The bad news is: Vertical jumping doesn’t come easily for many athletes. But there’s good news too! With a bit of practice, and by following some simple principles, anyone can learn to jump higher than they do now.
The Building Blocks
Like any objective, achieving a higher vertical jump needs some basic building blocks to be put in place. The Building Blocks necessary for learning how to rise higher than the competition includes:
- Setting Realistic Goals: To improve your vertical jumping abilities, you need to set yourself stretch goals – from jumpinghigh to higher, and from higher to highest. First, focus on jumping high. Then, learn how to get up higher than what you’ve just achieved. Finally, set a goal to jump the highest you can manage. The worst thing one could do is to try jumping 6 or 8 inches higher on the very first day, and then immediately give up because they couldn’t reach that goal.
- Being Committed to Improvement: It is important to understand that making improvements to your vertical jumping abilities will need dedication and commitment. The term “commitment” is another way of saying “hard work”. But working hard doesn’t have to be boring. As long as you are motivated to achieve results, you will stay committed.
- Getting Passionate about training: Commitment to improving your vertical jumping abilities may not be the same as being passionate about meeting that commitment. Commitment, without the burning passion for training to achieve results, could quickly fizzle out and leave you right where you started.
It often helps to have a written cheat sheet with a pledge to stick to your training regimen. And any time you feel a slight dimming of your passion, simply whip out your cheat sheet and rekindle your passion. And once you are passionate, you can also have fun in the process.
- Believing in yourself: Learning how to jump higher is much like learning anything new. If you truly believe that you can do it, the chances are you’ll accomplish it well before you think about quitting. The person who says “I can” and “I can’t”, are usually both right!
- Eating right: Nutrition, in both appropriate quantity and of the right quality, will provide the fuel on which the other building blocks will be sustained. Depending on your baseline physique, and your level of fitness, you’ll need to sustain a balanced diet containing Carbohydrates, Calcium and Proteins. And to provide you the necessary stamina for endurance, you’ll also need to carefully calibrate your periodic intake of water.
The Building Blocks outlined above will play an important role when you learn how to jump high. However, they need to be supplemented by a core set of principles that will take your vertical jumping abilities to the next level. These core principles include:
- Building Strength: Just as a powerful engine is essential to propel a rocket up, and out of the earth’s gravity and into outer space, so does the body require a “thruster” to project it vertically higher.
- That “thrust” is delivered through power in both the upper and lower body. And the key to learning how to leap higher is in building the necessary strength, primarily in your legs, that will then enable you to propel your body higher.
So, does that mean that you should start hitting the gym and pumping iron immediately? Do you need to take up power lifting and be able to do 500 lb squats to build strength? Hardly! What you do need however is to develop strong, muscular and lean leg muscles.
At the same time, focus on strengthening your hamstring and quad muscles which will then help you pack that extra punch during vertical leaps.
- Gaining Mobility: When figuring out how to increase your vertical, many individuals (and some coaches too!) will often overlook the importance that mobility plays in the whole process. Being able to perform a range of movements, such as squatting back instantaneously, naturally, and without hindrance, can add anywhere between 2 and 3 inches to a players vertical reach.
The secret to achieving mobility is in focusing on toning your muscles and giving them the flexibility they need to aid in higher vertical jumps. Learning how to leap high requires improving your overall muscle recruitment.
Having super tight muscles, or building muscles that are hindered by scar tissue can create a huge drag on mobility. Focusing on achieving flexibility will provide the mobility needed to jump higher.
- Improving Stability: Stability is an essential ingredient when learning to jump high. All the strength that you can muster, and no amount of mobility will help if the core stabilizer muscles in your body aren’t able to fixate your joints appropriately.
Without the support of the underlying muscles to add stability, your body will be unable to generate the power and strength needed for a higher vertical jump. All your strength and mobility will be to no avail. Recruiting these stability muscles therefore has to be a key focus in improving stability.
Putting it together
Powerful and far reaching vertical leapers are an asset for many sports, whether they are team players or individual contributors. But good vertical leaping skills don’t just play an important role in many sports, including volleyball, football, basketball and other track and field events.
These skills also help improve overall flexibility of the athlete while providing otherwise “normal” players a competitive advantage over the opposing team.
Learning how to jump higher by improving that vertical leap requires commitment and dedication to such improvement. Using the Building Blocks highlighted here, in conjunction with the guiding Principles discussed, is essential to improving vertical jumping abilities. And a great training regimen will seek to include both these elements.