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10 Ways to Increase Your Vertical Jump

Posted on December 05, 2018 by Sasa Cvetkovic

David-ThompsonAnyone who has ever played basketball has dreamed about leaping past and over a defender and performing a slamdunk in the best tradition of Horace Grant and Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, for most of us this seems like an impossibility. But your inability to do this likely has less to do with your technique than it does with your ability to perform a vertical leap. That’s the purpose of this article: to help you increase your vertical jump.

It’s important to keep in mind that improving your vertical leap means making better use of your leg muscles. So if you’re going to do this, your training needs to emphasize vertical movements, such as deadlifts, Olympic lifts and squats.

When combined with a solid understanding of basketball fundamentals, and increased vertical jump can give you a real advantage on the court. Keep the following in mind if you want to achieve maximum height when you leap for the slamdunk.

1. Get Rid of Those Knots in Your Legs

Muscle knots exist throughout your body and make your muscles weaker and shorter by stripping the length of muscle tissue. Slowly run a foam roller across your muscles, focusing on sensitive spots in order to release the knots there. You should work on the following areas of your legs, devoting roughly a minute to each leg.

Calf Muscles – Position the roller below your calf while resting the opposite foot flat on the floor. Alternatively, you could cross this leg over your shin in order to increase pressure. Then roll up from the ankle to the knee. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Quadriceps – Lie flat on your stomach and placed the roller underneath the front of the thigh. Then roll it up and down from the knee to the bottom of the hip. Then switch to the other leg and repeat.

IT Band – Lie on one side with the roller position close to your hip while resting the foot of the other leg. Then roll the roller up and down along the outer thigh. You can choose to enhance the pressure by positioning one lying on top of the other. Then repeat this process with the opposite leg.

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

If you’re going to successfully increase your vertical jump, it’s essential for you to be able to extend your legs much more quickly. One way you can practice doing this and enhance your ability is to do hip stretches. Doing a hip flex or stretch means you are pulling your knee up and loosening the muscles involved. This will help to ensure that your muscles won’t be tight and prevent you from increasing your vertical jump.

In the hip flexor stretch, place your back knee right below your hip and lunge forward, pushing with your pelvis unto you begin feeling the stretch at the point where your femur meets your pelvis. Hold this position for about 2 seconds and then release. You should repeat this 10 times for each leg.

3. Trap Bar Deadlifts

One of the advantages of this particular exercise is that it is easy to learn and easy to perform – as opposed to a regular squat. He can help you build up the strength required for good vertical jump. One of the reasons for this is that the biomechanics involved are quite similar to the ones involved in a vertical jump. Also, by centering your weight you are able to remain upright while doing this.

To do trap bar deadlifts, position yourself at the trap bar’s center and grab onto both handles. Keep your back perfectly straight while you lift the bar upward in a single, clean motion. Repeat this process 5 times. Over time, you’ll want to gradually increase the weight so you can gain greater strength for your jumps.

4. Bulgarian Split Squats

Performing Bulgarian split squats can give your legs the power you need to jump higher, while at the same time enhancing your balance. To do a Bulgarian split squat, position yourself to paces away from the bench and then put the leg you are not exercising on it. You don’t want to rest your entire leg on the bench. Instead, only the top of the foot should be on it.

With a dumbbell in both of your hands and your chest straight up, stand straight up. Then descend down until the knee of the lead leg almost touches the floor. With the heel of your foot, raise yourself to a standing position. This represents a single rep in this exercise. Do 3 sets with 8 reps for each of your legs.

5. Depth Jumps

This is a very commonly used technique when trying to increase your vertical jump. When you perform this exercise, you jump from a box that is close to your current vertical jump limit. You then jump immediately upward the moment you hit the ground. In theory, this helps you teach your body to make use of elastic energy so you can leap upward faster and with more power.

To do this depth jump, you should stand on a surface somewhere between 1-2 feet high. Stepping off with just 1 foot, you will want to land and let your knees slightly bend. Then you should immediately jump back up. You’ll want to perform 5-8 reps in one or 2 sets. The number will depend on your experience and current strength.

You can modify this exercise by adding in repetitive jumps or adding hurdles. You can also slowly increase the height of the surface you are jumping from. Just avoid increasing the height too quickly. When increasing the number of sets for this exercise, you should do the following over the coming weeks:

Week 1 – 3 sets with 3 reps

Week 2 – 4 sets with 3 reps

week 3 – 5 sets with 3 reps

To avoid injuries while exercising. You should use basketball shoes with ankle support.

6. Jump Squats

With jump squats, you also use the weight of your body for resistance training. You are building muscle memory so you can more easily launch your body from the bent position. This exercise can also be used for strength training by simply adding weights. This will help you when training your legs to add additional power.

To perform a jump squat, do a regular squat. Standard technique – which means keeping your knees above your toes and ensuring that your back is straight. When you are close to the ground, immediately jump as high as you possibly can. You should do 5-6 reps of this exercise over 1-2 sets.

The benefit of jump squats is it they will help you in developing the technique you need for explosive upward movement. This kind of movement will combine speed and power to unleash the force necessary you need to significantly increase your vertical jump.

7. Knee to Feet Jumps

You may not have heard of this particular exercise before, which is known as a knee to feet jump. This particular exercise increases your lower body power in a way that can greatly boost vertical jumps. Research has shown that athletes from a number of different sports – including basketball, softball, football and track – saw significant improvements in their vertical jump when they perform this exercise on a consistent basis.

To do knee to feet jumps, then down to your knees and leaned back on your heels. While explosively jumping upward, swing your arms to add momentum. At the same time, drive your hips forward and bring your feet and legs directly beneath you.

When you come down and land, you want to be in the squat position so that your arms are straight out directly in front of you. Lower yourself down again to the kneeling position, bring yourself down to one knee at a time. This is another exercise where you want to gradually increase the number of reps and sets over time.

8. Visualization Exercises

Other aspects of the slamdunk can actually interfere with your ability to vertically jump. Some of these other aspects are purely psychological. One way to deal with the psychological aspects is to attempt to visualize the process of flying through the air, executing the movement correctly reaching above the rim and jamming in the ball.

While this might seem like so much psychological mumbo-jumbo, the simple fact is that getting your mind in a meditative and mindful state is absolutely essential in sports. Visualizing the process of your vertical jump and slamdunk allows you to more easily make your movements automatic. In turn, this means you can focus more mental energy on simply getting as high as you can.

9. Starting Low

Similar to the above concepts of gradually increasing your jumping ability, another exercise approach is to practice your dunking using a basketball rim that is much lower than normal. In fact, you should probably start off with a rim set at your current maximum jumping limit. This means you will still be jumping at the edge of your ability, which will force you to feel the muscles required for a slamdunk.

Over time, you will be able to gradually increase the height of the rim as your vertical jump performance improvements. This kind of gradual, incremental progress will allow you to arrive at the ability to dunk a basketball almost without you noticing you’ve reached that point. Once there, it’s just a matter of maintaining that capability.

10. Start with Smaller Balls

As strange as it might sound, one exercise/practice that you can carry out to improve your ability to dunk a basketball is to switch to much smaller balls. You can start out with a tennis ball, taking it up to the rim to dunk it. This will allow you to focus less on the ball and more on your jump. Again, this is a psychological ploy that can help you shift your focus to jumping.

After doing this for a while, move up to something larger like a baseball. Next, switch to a youth sized ball while perfecting your jump. Finally, you can start using a regulation basketball. Also keep in mind that if you can’t Palm the ball, you will need to control it with both hands until the last moment of the dunk. This is one reason why starting with smaller balls can be so helpful.


To play college-level or Pro basketball, it’s almost expected that you’ll be able to dunk a basketball. But this means having a really good vertical jump height, which isn’t easy to do. But as the above makes clear, there are certain things that you can do to increase your vertical jump height significantly.

All of these exercises – both physical and mental – take a lot of commitment on your part, but they can work overtime. These exercises include:

•    Getting Rid of the Knots in Your Legs – This can loosen up your muscles and allow them to stretch further.

•    Hip Flexor Stretch – The hip flexor stretch exercise will allow your legs to extend far more quickly.

•    Trap Bar Deadlifts – This exercise is mechanically quite similar to the vertical jump itself, and allows you to build up your muscles for that specific movement.

•    Bulgarian Split Squats – Not only does this strengthen your ability to jump vertically, it also enhances your overall balance.

•    Depth Jumps – In this exercise, you jump from a height and then immediately jump upward so your body can develop more effective use of elastic energy.

•    Jump Squats – With jump squats, the weight of your body is used for resistance training and to create muscle memory.

•    Knee to Feet Jumps – Studies of shown that jumping up from this particular position can greatly increase your vertical jump capability.

•    Visualization Exercises – The mental process of visualization is used to help automate your movements so you can focus on jump power.

•    Starting Low – This is both a mental and physical exercise, with you starting out with a rim positioned at your current vertical jump limit. You then gradually raise the rim as you practice.

•    Start with Smaller Balls – Again, you shift your focus away from handling the ball to simply getting the height that you need.

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