A high vertical jump has a positive impact on your volleyball or basketball game. To improve their verts, most athletes and heir coaches look to plyometrics. However, plyometric training may not be the best thing during the season.
Understanding plyometric jump training is simple: When you load a jump with a countermovement, your nervous systems is forced to fire more quickly, making your vertical jump higher. In science, this is called the stretch reflex response.
Plyometrics is a great training method off-season, but it becomes problematic in-season for one often overlooked reason. Nearly all jumps an athlete makes during practices, lessons and games are loaded with a countermovement. This adds up to hundreds of jumps every week. Doing more jumpsin training can overwork the nervous and muscular systems, and may lead to diminished performance or an overuse injury.
Here are four things you can do during the season to improve your Vertical Jump without resorting to plyometrics.
Kettlebell Swings strengthen your jumping pattern, enhancing your ability to drop into a loaded position under control and explode quickly back to extension.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell in front of your waist with both hands.
- Lower into a Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground, allowing the kettlebell to swing back between your thighs; keep your arms straight.
- Drive through your heels and explode up with your hips to bring the kettlebell to chin level in front.
- Return to squat position with control and repeat rhythmically.
A strong deadlift is the cornerstone for jumping, building the hips and hamstrings, the main muscles responsible for pushing into the ground with enough force to get high into the air.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend down and grasp the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Position the bar close to your shins.
- Fully extend your elbows, stick your chest out, and look straight ahead.
- Simultaneously extend your hips and straighten your legs to stand up.
- Keep your back straight and the bar close to your body.
- Squeeze your glutes to complete the movement.
- Reverse the movement, pulling your hips back to return the bar to the ground.
For every two-legged strength movement an athlete does, he or she should also do a single-leg exercise. This develops the balanced strength and stability necessary to explode off the ground.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes straight.
- With your core tight, take a big step forward with your right foot.
- Keeping your shoulders and hips square and straight ahead, drop down to a deep lunge position and pause.
- Both knees should be at 90-degree angles.
- Keeping your knees in alignment with your ankles, feet straight, and your weight through your front heel, push into the ground to straighten both legs.
- Your shoulders and hips should remain square and your feet should not move.
- Repeat to the end of the rep count, then perform with your opposite foot forward.
Done with a 35-degree bend in the knees, lighter weight and a focus on the rate of bar movement, Speed Squats turn the strength built with heavy Squats into the power needed to jump as high as possible.
- Set up like a standard Squat, bar on your back at shoulder level, feet hip-width apart, toes straight, chest up, core tight and head even with spinal set.
- Instead of dropping all the way down or to 90 degrees, stop at about a 35-degree angle of bent knees (the position you would jump out of).
- Pause long enough to assert control and then explode quickly back to starting position.
If you have access to one, an accelerometer on the bar can help fine-tune the speed of movement and weight used.
Remember, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Increase your Vertical Jump this season by getting off plyometrics and performing the above exercises. You will end up higher in the air!