If you want to learn how to jump higher where is the obvious place to start? The obvious answer of course is actually going out and practicing to jump high. In this article I will explain what sports specific jump training is and how you can take full advantage of it in your vertical jump program for maximum results.
If you want to jump high, you must practice jumping high; this is common sense. Other training methods such as strength training certainly improve vertical leap, especially for beginners, but as you probably have noticed, jumping is very different than lifting heavy weights.
What about plyometrics? Plyometrics are certainly jump specific because they involve the act of jumping; however they are not always specific to the form of jumping used in your sport. Consider a basketball player for example. Which of the following movements would be more sports specific to a basketball player trying to dunk?
1) A broad jump
2) Simply going out and practicing dunking
Obviously the best choice would be the dunk practice. While both the broad jump and the dunking would improve some of the same qualities, only the dunking would improve the coordination required to dunk, which in case you hadn’t realized it, is actually pretty important.
So, why even bother using plyometrics, or weights, or anything else besides just dunking practice? Well there are a number of reasons for this. For starters, at some point your body becomes accustomed to a certain stimulus and your results plateau. Also, maximal effort jumping is very hard on the body. Other forms of training such as weights and plyometrics of various intensity allow you to develop the athleticism you need while putting less stress on your joints, muscles and nervous system.
Still, if you want to maximize your vertical jump, especially for a fine motor skill like running and dunking, you must engage in some form of regular max effort jumping to hone that skill, and that is where the sports specific jumping sessions come in.
Sports specific training sessions are not difficult to implement. All you need to do is practice jumping in the manner used in your sport. For example, if you are a basketball player, you would simply go to the gym and practice jumping to the rim or practice dunking the ball. If you are a volleyball player, you would practice spiking and blocking the ball.
These sessions don’t need to last very long, usually around 20-45 minutes. However, this is just a rough guide. There is no need to have a set time. As soon as you notice that the height of your jumps is starting to decline, call it a day. Once your jumps start to fall off this is your bodies way of telling you it has had enough.
Also, don't forget to do a good warm up for these workouts. Just because they aren't structured with set reps and rest periods doesn't mean you can neglect to spend the 10-15 minutes necessary to properly prepare your body for maximum effort jumping.
When performing the jumps in these sessions you should take as much time as you need between jumps to maintain your effort and intensity. Remember these training sessions are about maximum height, not just doing a bunch of jumps for the sake of doing a bunch of jumps. Use this rest time to mentally analyze what you did right and what you did wrong on your last attempt and to think about ways you could improve your jumping technique.
So how often should you perform these max effort sports specific jumping sessions? The answer to that will depend on your total training workload, age, training experience, etc, but given how taxing these sessions can be I would recommend you not do more than 2-3 per week. Obviously if you already have a heavy training load it might even be just a single session per week that is sufficient (one is the default number of max effort sports specific jumping sessions for our Vertical Jump Coaching programs).
Sports specific jumping is a great way to improve your vertical jump. Not only does it improve the athletic qualities you need to jump high, but it also helps refine and improve your jumping technique better than any plyometric drill or weighted exercise ever could. If increasing your vertical jump is important to you and you are feeling overwhelmed about where to start, then start here. It is the simplest, and nearly always the best way to boost your jumping ability.
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