To be the best in your basketball game, you need a wide variety of skills. However, one particular skill can set you apart from your competitors -- your jumping ability. Increasing your jump height and distance means you'll grab more rebounds, make more blocks and score more points. To improve your jumping, you need a workout plan containing several key training components.
It may sound simple, but you need to know how to jump properly, as technique is vital for improving your jumping ability. There are two types of jump take off -- a countermovement jump, where you push your hips back maximally, and bend your knees just a little, and a squat jump, which involves more knee bend and minimal hip bend. Experiment with both to find what works for you. Your upper body also plays an important role -- swinging your arms and using them to generate extra force and momentum can add inches onto your jump.
Plyometric, or explosive, training is a commonly used method for increasing jumping height and power. Include one plyometric lower body session in your routine each week, performing exercises like bounds, single leg hops, broad jumps and tuck jumps for five to eight sets of two to five repetitions. Chad Wesley Smith, owner of Juggernaut Training Facility recommends including box jumps in your lower body strength workouts too, to activate your central nervous system and develop lower body power. According to UK Athletics coach Brian Mackenzie, the focus of your plyometric training should always be on quality and speed, rather than trying to do lots of reps.
Perform one lower body weight training session per week. While you may be under the impression that weight training makes you big and bulky, slows you down and makes you less athletic, a well-constructed routine will have the opposite effect. Heavy weight training stimulates Type II muscle fibers, which are responsible for strength and power generation. Start your workout with five sets of five back squats, followed by five sets of five deadlifts, and finish with three sets of 10 reps each of lunges and glute-ham raises. Choose a weight that is heavy enough that you can just about complete all the reps with good form, and aim to increase it slightly each week.
Testing your jumps does two things. Firstly it gives you a goal to aim for and keeps you motivated with your training, but it's also a good assessment of progress and an indicator of where you may need to improve. Once every six to eight weeks, test your two-footed long jump and single leg running bounds using a set of cones and a tape measure. You should also test your vertical jump -- stand next to a wall, reach up and mark it with a piece of chalk as high as you can. Then jump while holding the chalk, and mark it at the top of your jump. Measure the distance to find your jump height. Make note of these figures, and aim to improve on them in each test.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.