Watch my latest video below where I share key scientific research on how to improve your vertical jump and improve your basketball game.
Rebounding is all about desire for the basketball and, sure, being taller and bigger can help, but, naturally, if you can jump higher than your opponent you have a much better shot of getting the rebound.
The vertical jump is actually a test of an athlete’s power output. That’s why the vertical jump test is used at the NFL combine as well as athlete testing facilities all over the world - to test an athlete’s power capabilities.
So how exactly can you increase your vertical jump for rebounding?
\While there are thousands of videos on how you can increase your vertical jump. Those videos are usually just guys who can jump really high trying to sell you vertical jump training programs. They want you to do countless jumps calling them plyometrics when, by definition, a true plyometric is performed as explosively as possible with long rest periods. Most exercises deemed plyometrics actually aren’t plyometric at all.
Here, we’re going to get into the science on how you can jump higher, and, hopefully increase your rebounds per game average.
Well, first things first, obviously you need to practice jumping. And this follows suit with the principle of specificity of training which states that “the vast majority of training-induced adaptations occur only in those muscle fibers that have been recruited during the exercise regimen, with little or no adaptive changes occurring in untrained musculature. Furthermore, the principle of specificity predicts that the closer the training routine is to the requirements of the desired outcome ... the better the outcome will be.
So, to increase your vertical jump, naturally, you’ve got to practice jumping.
And I’m going to show you at the end of this video the best type of jump training you can do to increase your vertical jump as well as a sneaky surprising tip to improve your vertical jump by as much as 15%.
But know this, just simply jumping is NOT your best route to increasing your vertical jump.
In fact, a study from 2014 showed that “power cleans elicited a significantly greater maximum force than jump squats and vertical jumps, while jump squats elicited a significantly greater maximum force than vertical jumps”
The actual movement of the vertical jump is called triple extension.Triple extension is simultaneously extending the joints at the hip, knee and ankle. As you can see, the power clean movement - along with other olympic lifts - take your strength and help you develop that strength into quick, explosive power.
Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky was a sport scientist from Russia and worked with many Olympians in the 60’s and 70’s and is the inventor of plyometrics. He had at the top of his hierarchy for generating explosiveness and improving vertical jump the olympic lifts with a barbell and depth jumps. Nothing else helped to improve his athlete’s vertical jump more than those two things.
He also always had a “strength block” before training these movements. So he would program a phase of training exclusively for strength before going in to these movements.
So before we practice olympic lifts to increase power, we have to improve our strength as strength precedes power.
After all, one of my favorite quotes is,
“strength is the mother of all physical qualities”.
The two main movements I use with my athletes to increase lower body strength are the barbell back squat and the barbell deadlift.
When you look at the difference between the two exercises you can see that the deadlift puts more emphasis on the hip extension musculature while the squat puts more emphasis on the knee extension musculature due to the different moment arm of each exercise.
A moment arm is simply the length between a joint axis and the line of force acting on that joint. The longer the moment arm is the more load will be applied to the joint axis through leverage.
Now, let me clarify something. When I say “squat” I mean a full range of motion squat. None of these quarter squats or half squats. Full squats allowed only. Full range of motion means your hamstring covers your calf muscle in the bottom position - basically, you can’t go down any further.
I hear all the time from athletes and coaches “but basketball players don’t squat all the way down before jumping up for a rebound”. I know this. But full squatting has a host of benefits including protecting the knee from injury and improved muscle recruitment, which we’ll get into in a later video. Looking at the research A paper from September of 2019 confirmed this by stating that “The results suggest that full squat training is more effective for developing the lower limb muscles
And even more telling at improving your vertical jump a 2012 paper confirmed that Deep front and back squats guarantee performance-enhancing transfer effects of dynamic maximal strength to dynamic speed-strength capacity of hip and knee extensors compared with quarter squats.
So, while we have scientific proof, we also need to look at what has worked for athletes in their own training … and as arguably the greatest strength coach of all time, Charles Poliquin used to say, anecdotal evidence confirmed for him long before the research was there that full ROM squat movements had greater transfer to athletic performance than half or quarter squats did.”
So build up your strength in the squat and deadlift and then transfer this strength into force production by way of olympic lifting and jumping practice.
A 2015 study showed that training specifically targeted to improve knee and ankle extension rate of torque development, especially during the early phases of muscle contraction, may be effective for increasing maximal vertical jump performance.
So firing the calf muscles and the quad muscles concentrically to extend the hip, knee and ankle quickly and forcefully should help to increase your vertical jump.
This reinforces the fact that the Olympic movements like the clean, power clean and snatch will greatly aid your vertical jump quicker than other movements. One big reason is you are training your connective tissue - the ligaments and tendons - to help contract the muscle faster and move your joints quicker - a key to transferring your strength into explosive vertical jumping power.
But make sure to train for strength first through a full range of motion.
Remember that sneaky tip?
You can increase your vertical jump by up to 15% by simply increasing your shoulder strength and using them properly when attempting to jump at your highest.
Remember that NFL combine video? Notice their arm swing. So if you have a running start for a rebound and can generate some momentum by swinging your arms you can increase your vertical jump by 15%. This was something the great Charles Poliquin taught at one of his lectures. It’s also a great example of using anecdotal evidence to help guide training.
One last thing. Regarding your jump training.
Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky - the inventor of plyometrics who passed away in 2010 discovered that loading the jump before attempting to jump could increase a vertical jump more quickly and to a higher degree than simply jumping. What we now know this today as is the depth jump. To coincide with the depth jump, I and other colleagues have found that 3 jumps over hurdles in quick succession applies the principles Dr. Verkhoshansky taught regarding depth jumps but can also improve your follow-up jumping explosiveness which comes in handy when battling for a rebound after not being able to grab it on the first jump.