Using Plyometrics to Improve Your Vertical Jump
Donald A. Chu, Ph.D., PT, ATC, CSCS

Basketball is a sport where leaping ability gets attention. Virtually every participant in this sport would like to improve in his or her ability to "get up". The key to jumping higher is a two-fold problem. First, leg strength must be maximized. The coupling of strength and plyometric training are essential for maximizing your abilities.

Squat strength has the highest correlation with your ability to score well on a "Jump and Reach" test.

My favorite exercises for developing maximal jumping ability on the court are the following exercises, done in the following format:

1. Rim Jumps 5 sets; 6 reps

2. Depth Jumps 5 sets; 8 reps from a 24"-36" height

3. Hurdle Hops 5 sets; 6 reps over 32" barriers

4. Rebound Jumps done with a Medicine Ball done for 3 X 60 seconds

5. Squat Jumps done with 60% of 1 RM 10 sets; 3 reps

Remember that jumping is a specific skill, and it matters if you are taking off on one foot, or two feet. If you are taking off on two feet, such as rebounding, tipping, or jump stopping all of the above exercise will suffice. If you are thinking of stuffing off of a lay-up approach, then it becomes a single foot take off. In that case these exercises can be added to your workouts:

1. Single leg hops over 10m (try to cover as much ground as possible)

2. Single leg hurdle hops 5 sets; 6 reps over 12"-18" barriers

3. Single leg push-off 5 sets; 6 reps from a 12" box (drive up for maximal height)

4. Reverse lunge with lead knee drive done with 30% 1 RM; 10 sets of 1 rep

5. Three-step approach to rim touches 10-15 sets of 1 rep.

These exercises are very specific to basketball and require that the exerciser be in good condition to follow this program. The frequency of exercise should be 3 times per week for 4 weeks and then 2 times per week for 4 weeks and finish with 1 time per week for 6 weeks. Given enough time for physiological change to occur, you should definitely notice a difference. Don't forget you need to work on leg strength at the same time!

(Before beginning any exercise program consult with your physician.)


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