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Improve Your Vertical With Plyometric Training

Strengthening your legs and their fast-twitch muscle fibers can add inches to your vertical jump. Here are some tips on how to to increase your vertical leap using plyometric exercises.

Eastbay Court/Running Copywriter, J. Sisko Article date: 06/15/12


Former player Spud Webb had an amazing 46" vertical leap and won a slam dunk contest despite being one of the shortest players in league history at 5'7". Darrell Griffith had a remarkable vertical leap of 48" that helped him earn the nickname "Dr. Dunkenstein." And who can forget "His Airness" Micheal Jordan, who is considered to have had the highest vertical leap in history. What did all these legendary players have in common? Vertical leaping ability.


Plyometrics or plyos, for short, is a training or exercise method that basically trains your muscles for explosive power and speed. In basketball, this characteristic can be crucial. Plyometrics exercises are performed to increase the ability of a muscle to generate more force, which in the case of the legs enables the athlete to jump higher and farther.


Plyometric Exercises Designed To Increase Vertical Leap:


The following exercises can produce better results if you wear specialized, weighted training gear, like the ATI Weight Vest.


Squat Jumps

Set your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your upper legs are parallel with the floor, then jump straight up into the air as high as you can. Land on both feet. Rest for 1-2 seconds and repeat. Concentrate on exploding into the leap.


Box Jump

Use a box that will not slide out from under your feet. Lower your body into a semi-squat position and jump onto the box. Step back down and repeat. Start with a low box and increase the height as you improve. This exercise can also be performed with one leg as an advanced variation.


Lateral Box Push-Offs

Use a box whose height causes your upper leg to be parallel to the ground when you stand beside the box and place one foot on top of it. Push off with the foot that's on the box, leaping laterally over the box and landing with that foot on the ground. The foot that was previously on the ground should now be on the box, and you will be on the opposite side of the box from where you started.



Burpees help you get into a position to explode into a leap much faster, as well as increase your endurance and work your upper body. To perform a burpee, squat all the way to the floor from standing position so that your hamstrings are pressed against your calves. Put your hands on the floor, and throw your legs backward into the push-up position. Perform a push-up, then return to the squatting position. Leap into the air and raise your hands overhead. Repeat for as long as possible.


Box-Depth Jump

Start on top of the box. Drop off to the ground. Don't jump; you are simply executing a controlled fall. The second your feet hit the ground, leap straight up into the air as high as possible. Your time spent on the ground should be as short as possible. Increase the height of the box to raise the difficulty.


You may not be able to jump like Air Jordan, but the game of basketball requires agility as well as strong jumping ability. Plyometrics exercises can increase muscle control and explosive power as well as balance, coordination and quickness, which are essential to the fundamental movements of the game. Whether you're going for a dunk, a rebound, a block or the quick first step, plyometrics can help get you there.


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