Having been in the field of strength and conditioning for 12 years I thoroughly enjoy watching different coaches work and their approach to building a more complete athlete. The beauty is that every coach has a different perspective which drives them to use different methods of trying to achieve the same thing. When I first started off in the industry most athletes were told that the higher the numbers that they can achieve in the weightroom, the better they are going to do on the field. It wasn’t until I met the incredible Gary Gray (The Gray Institute) who changed my perspective on how the body actually moves, Cal Dietz (USA Hockey) organized and changed my perspective on practical training and Frans Bosche along with Chris Korfist on how to apply a completely different method of training to get arguably even better results.
Today I am going to list out my top 4 training categories on what it takes to significantly one’s vertical leap. This list has changed significantly from when I first started coaching.
Developing proper Jumping Mechanics - This is the hardest part, because it requires a trained coaching eye and experience in order to teach someone to transfer horizontal force (running towards the rim) in to vertical force (jumping up and towards the goal/rim) It takes a great deal of coordination, the for the most part 90% of the athletes that I work with do not naturally possess this skill. To make things harder the single legged approach jump and vastly different to the two footed approach jump. My advice would be to find a coach who REALLY knows what to look for when it comes to jumping. If that is not possible, film yourself jumping, look it over and study it, then go on youtube and watch the strategies of some of the best dunkers/basketball players take off and see what adjustments you can make. Again I want to reiterate that the reason this is often overlooked is that it takes the most coaching and is the hardest part to correct. But once you have the right mechanics down, all the other training components that come after will make a huge difference. One important method that I want to share is “Reverse Engineering” Start close to the rim and take one step and jump, once you feel you have it down take two steps, then three etc. Please understand that you will not be able to master it in one day… it takes pateience.
Expressing a high Rate of Force Development (RFD) and Rate of Force Absorption (RFA)
To simplify this, it means that we need to be able to produce force at a high rate. There are many exercises that can help this, jumping itself is a great to improve and develop RFD. However, what is often forgotten and is just as important is “Force Absorption” How much force are we able to absorb and how fast are we able to absorb it. Probably the most important aspect of force absorption is reducing the chances of injury. If we really think about it. Injuries rarely occur during the take off, but it during movements like deceleration, landing where players tear and ACL or sprain their ankle.
Exercises such the Snap Down and depth landings are a good way to teach someone how to develop this quality.
Building General Strength- This is the easiest part and it is often the category that most strength and conditioning coaches are best at. Squat, deadlift, bench, clean etc all fall into this category and it without a doubt makes a BIG difference. If I was coaching a team session (10+ athletes) I would mainly be focusing on this aspect. An Intelligent, well thought out and progressive strength training program is a great way to strengthen muscles, tendons, joints etc that would be involved in playing basketball as well enable the athlete to produce more force, which makes it easier for them to run faster, jump higher and make explosive cutting moves much more effective. However, the biggest benefit without a shadow of a doubt is that a proper strength and conditioning program will vastly decrease the chances of injury to players, allowing them to stay healthy and pain free year round.
Practice Jumping Often
While everything that we do in the weightroom is beneficial and gets us closer to reaching our goals, we must forget that the only way to improve a skill, is to practice the skill itself. Therefore, it is important that we take all the hard work that we do off the court and apply it on the court. I usually blend some of our jump training into our skill work sessions. We always do a thorough dynamic warm up, we would then go into low intensity stuff like stationary ballhandling and stationary shooting and finishing, and when I feel that the athlete’s body and central nervous system is properly “turned on” then we might go into two legged and one legged jumps and dunks, depending on what they are capable of. Just a word of advice: I would never save these high intensity jumps until the end of the workout when they are fatigued, I understand that we want them to be able to perform when they are tired, but for me if I am trying to get the best out of an athlete I would always do it when their body is primed for it, NOT when they are fatigued and ready to go home.
Thank you so much for reading this and I sincerely hope that sheds a new light on how we can train differently in order to reach our goals safely and more efficiently. If there are any questions please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or my instagram name is Willvlo.