The Air Up There: tips on increasing your vertical!

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    The Air Up There: tips on increasing your vertical!


    Gday all
    I play volleyball in the national league and coach at the state and national levels, and the #1 question I get asked by the juniors is "how do I jump higher??" I don't have a freakish jump - 100cm or 40" for you guys playing Imperial - but when benchmarked at age 19 my vertical was 78cm (I'm now 24). It's been a nice reward for a lot of hard work and I'm now at the top of my game.

    So I thought I would share some of my experience and I hope it'll be useful to some of you. Some of it is newschool, some is oldschool and most is common sense. Volleyball, basketball, netball etc players and coaches especially will (hopefully) find some benefits here.

    Weight Training
    If you're in this (very awesome) forum then you're one of the converted. There's no point spruiking the benefits of weight training to you guys because you already know.
    I believe squats are the single greatest thing a person can do to increase their jump. You're activating the same major muscle groups and most of the same stabilisers as when you jump.
    A few tips with squats:
    -Explosiveness. You don't struggle in the initial stages of a jump to get up. It's a fast, powerful movement. You should be driving as hard as possible through your feet to get that weight up as quick as you can, imitating a 'jump' movement. For most of the movement you should be driving through your heels but the last 'push' should be a slight extension of the movement; the weight should be travelling with enough speed that it takes you up onto your toes. Looks like a jump, doesn't it?!
    -I squat 5x5 aiming for my 5RM in the 5th. Sounds simple - but directly after each set you need to tuck jump or high box jump for around 10-20 reps depending on your level. This has been known to break people
    I usually don't mind a 3-5 min recovery after this as we are looking for a 5RM
    -Front squats are great for mixing it up and preventing complacency!

    You will also want to continue with your 'big 3', deads are certainly extremely beneficial but a strong core (and subsequently strong body) are essential. Personally I don't want to overtrain the top half of my body, the bottom half comes first and foremost.
    Don't go near that smith machine - you need to be able to recruit all of your stabilisers when you're on the court.

    Plyometrics
    I'm lucky enough to be good friends with a plyometrics instructor and she takes a group of us athletes at uni for dirt cheap plyometric sessions every week. Seriously, if you can find someone running this kind of training near you, GET ON IT! It's absolutely invaluable for any athlete. The kind of program she runs includes Core, Resistance, Agility, Speed and some Interval training. It's absolutely awesome, and there's quite a lot of focus on the jump as a compound movement and therefore beneficial to the body as a whole.
    Plyometric training requires a base level of fitness as it's pretty brutal but a whole lot of fun! (maybe I'm just a sadist)
    For those of you in the dark, Wikipedia (as always) says it better than I can. I'm not allowed to post links yet but it's easy to find.

    Bodyweight
    I don't believe in sending kids under 16-17 into the gym to weight train. It's definitely something that takes both a mature mind and mature body. I found telling juniors that weight training was what will get you jumping sky high counter-constructive. So I modified a whole range of exercises to get the kids in the mode of correct form, with both general fitness and jump-specific benefits .
    Here is a small circuit as an example for anyone coaching or just interested in getting pounded through some interval training!
    You should modify the timing depending on the level of fitness of your kids - for my elite kids 1 min on 20 sec rest was good, but 1 min on will kill a lot of kids (or men!). For my younger kids (~14yo) 30 sec on 30 sec rest was acceptable.

    I'm not going to give away ALL my secrets but here's a nice selection.
    1. Prisoner squat. ATG squats forcing correct form by holding arms forward, high and straight. Eyeline should be to hands.
    2. Double jump (or half burpee). From a 'plank' pushup position, jump so your feet land in between or as close to hands as possible. Knees should be on or near chest. Movement should be 'springy' with minimal rest at each end of the movement.
    3. Squat jumps. ATG squats transversing to a maximal jump effort. Arms should be integrated into the movement starting behind at the bottom of the squat, then ending near straight-armed above the head at the peak of the jump. Focus should be on correct form with initial effort through heels, then toes for the jump effort. Knees should be 'tucked' to chest during hangtime. Landing shock should be taken up with knees as the first part of the next squat movement.
    4. Extended pushup. Pushup position. Perform pushup, but nearing the end of the 'up' movement one hand should be taken off the ground and the body should roll in the direction of the arm. The arms should end up in a straight line hand to hand, eyeline should be to the top hand. Roll with other way with the other arm on the next rep etc.
    5. Split lunge jumps. Hands should be on hips. Perform a lunge on the spot the jump on the way up, aiming for maximum hang time, switching legs on the way through. Take care that the forward knee doesn't go over the toes. Not suitable for kids with knee problems.
    6. Sprint starts. The lucky ones are the kids that get this part of the circuit first! Pretty easy, down in a sprinter's starting position and push off for maximal effort and explosiveness for 5 or so paces. Then drop down and do it back the other way. A real killer especially if you jag it right after split jumps!

    I also believe that 'jump lots, jump high' is applicable too. Repeating the movement is beneficial. Thus, if I'm taking the kids for a warmup run or a longer jog I encourage them to jump and try to touch the things I touch - branches, signs, top of a bus shelter, that kind of thing. It keeps it fun for the kids (and coach) and adds a nice dimension to what is essentially a repetetive exercise.

    Mind to Muscle
    I think this is something that comes with a lot of time and training. Mechanically you could call it proprioception, but more simply it's being aware of exactly what you're trying to achieve with the movement. I personally spent a lot of time on my spike approach and blocking techniques and found that I was much, much more aware of what was going on with my body. Subsequently my jump improved as my body worked with much more harmony. It's free cm on your vertical if you can get this sorted.

    It's quite hard to explain but you just need to think with your mind and your body. When you get it you'll know what I'm talking about but you should notice instant benefits with your agility and balance. With kids it may simply be a matter of teaching proper technique, very easy to do from an external perspective. Kids that are described as natural athletes are usually the kids that have this mind-body connection going on already. Your gangly, 6ft 14 year old kid that moves like Gumby is going to take a while to get this, but you knew that

    Summary
    Jumping is a compound, whole body movement. Thus, any training that recruits a lot of your body is going to be beneficial. Alternate maximal effort training with repetition, and encourage correct technique. Recruit the mind! The best athletes are the smart ones
    Jump, jump, jump- all the time!

    Hope this has been of some benefit to you guys, if you got this far then maybe it has been!
    If there's anyone that wants to share some jumping tips or secrets then go ahead, I'd love to hear any thoughts or ideas that I can steal!

  2. UKStrength
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    Nice post mate! I'm not too worried about jumping higher but I'm sure they'll be some guys on here who are.
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    Cheers guvna! Hey you could always give that circuit a crack - might be able to hear you cursing my name from here
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  4. UKStrength
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    Quote Originally Posted by elshano View Post
    Cheers guvna! Hey you could always give that circuit a crack - might be able to hear you cursing my name from here
    I'll certainly add those exercises into my HIIT circuit at some point for some variety! Perhaps...I've got a pretty high tolerance for pain
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    I didn't read that but I'm sure it's a good article.
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    ya im gonna try to incorporate this into my routine because im trying to make the transition from a football player to a male cheerleader, apparently ou didnt want 5 10 190 lb defensive end, so im gonna work to be on their cheer team lol it sounds gay but is actually a lot of fun
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    Quote Originally Posted by panther77 View Post
    im gonna work to be on their cheer team lol it sounds gay but is actually a lot of fun
    Agreed, picking girls up and throwing them and being able to rub their legs and butt by throwing them in the air is unbelievably homo. :P

    I'm being sarcastic
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    Quote Originally Posted by GymRat7197 View Post
    I didn't read that but I'm sure it's a good article.
    TL;DR fair call
    apologise for the long windedness (i'm also a 3rd year english lit/teaching major haha)

    i've only seen the kind of cheerleading you guys do in movies but there sure as hell isn't anything gay about that! fit girls
    good luck mate!
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    Nothing concerning glutes or calves?
    M.Ed. Ex Phys
    Performax Labs Product Specialist

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    try that little extension to the squat and you'll notice your calves! glutes get hit hard by deads and squats anyway, i don't really think anyone on here needs a lesson on muscle activations!

    i have naturally massive calves (thanks dad) helped along by surf boat rowing and riding my fixie, so i can honestly say i've never actually gone out and said "today i'm going to work my calves"

    most of the techniques i've posted incorporate some imitation of the jump action, the idea being that you activate those muscles hard and often!
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    Quote Originally Posted by elshano View Post
    try that little extension to the squat and you'll notice your calves! glutes get hit hard by deads and squats anyway, i don't really think anyone on here needs a lesson on muscle activations!

    i have naturally massive calves (thanks dad) helped along by surf boat rowing and riding my fixie, so i can honestly say i've never actually gone out and said "today i'm going to work my calves"

    most of the techniques i've posted incorporate some imitation of the jump action, the idea being that you activate those muscles hard and often!
    I understand that, but you're only focusing on the anterior chain and not the posterior. Glute/Ham raises, spring-ups, and calf work are all necessary to help increase vertical.
    M.Ed. Ex Phys
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    haha ya ive only done it a little and it is quite rewarding, there are some fine a$$ females to be thrown around at the collegiate level lol not to mention scholarships to be had
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    Some guy at my gym was wearing shoes whose sole was much thicker at the ball/toe of the shoe than at the heel. He said it was to help with his vertical.

    I told him to jump for me, then I kicked him in the nuts as he was coming down and took his shoes

    :P LoL No, I don't know why I said that - but the first sentence is true.
  

  
 

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