High Reach Jumps – with your feet shoulder width apart, bend down into a comfortable squat position and then jump up as high as you can reaching for the sky! This drill is great to do under the basketball goal or near a wall so you can have a visual of how high you’re jumping – or how low you jump once you start getting tired. Try to reach the same height through all your reps.
This isn’t just some light-duty assistance exercise. The rear-foot elevated split squat (aka, Bulgarian split squat) is a legitimate movement for increasing pure glute and quad strength, which will in turn enhance power and vertical jumping performance. Even if you’re a two-foot jumper, focusing on one leg at a time like you do here will ensure that your dominant side isn’t compensating for your weaker leg during the movement.
Because jumping ability is a combination of leg strength and explosive power, jumping can be developed in the same fashion as any other muscular activity. The ultimate limit to how high any athlete can jump will be determined to a significant degree by the distribution of fast-twitch versus slow-twitch fibers present in the muscles of the legs. This distribution is a genetic determination. Fast-twitch fibers are those whose governing neurons, the component of the nervous system that receives the impulses generated by the brain to direct muscular movement, fires more rapidly, which in turn creates the more rapid muscle contractions required for speed. As a general proposition, an athlete with a greater distribution of fast-twitch fibers will be able jump higher than one with a preponderance of slow-twitch fibers.
As an athlete pushes off the ground, he or she must overcome his/her own body weight. The lighter the athlete, the less force is necessary to do this. Imagine trying to jump as high as you can and then immediately repeating this same test wearing a 20-pound vest. It's obvious that the second jump will be much smaller. Now, imagine how much higher you could jump if you were 20 pounds lighter.
Important Update! – I have been receiving a few emails/comments on players tracking their jump during the course of their program. Please understand that what you are doing when completing a jump program is breaking down the muscle. You aren’t going to see improvements mid-week because the muscle hasn’t healed properly. That’s why I suggest only checking how much you’ve improved at the end of each rest week. Rest is just as important as the routine.
Another high pull option is to shorten the range of motion to make it a hang high pull instead of a power high pull (“power” implying that the load starts on the floor). In this case, the start position is from standing, with the bar hanging in front of your thighs at arms’ length. The movement is initiated with a dip in the hips and knees, so that the bar lowers to just above knee level, followed immediately by an explosive pull.
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To start the test, you need to stand with your right side against a wall. If you have access to a chalk board or a vertex (the measuring tool used by biokineticists), it makes this easier, however, you can use an outside wall. For the first marking, stand in your training shoes with your right hip against the wall. Reach up with your right hand to touch the wall at the highest point possible (while keeping your heels flat on the ground). Mark this point with chalk, as this is your “standing height.”
An impressive vertical jump is the ultimate standard of lower-body power and explosiveness—an attribute that pays as many dividends in high-impact sports like basketball, football, and soccer as it gets you wide-eyed looks in the gym. Increase your hops, and chances are you’ll also be able to run faster, lift more weight, and maybe even throw down a dunk at your next pickup basketball game.
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To perform two-foot dunks, jumpers bend their knees very deeply and spend a lot more time on the ground loading the jump. This increased time during takeoff is useful because it allows the athlete to transfer force into the ground thereby improving height. Using this approach makes it more difficult to transform speed into jump height making a fast approach far less useful than in one-foot jumping.
A second, more efficient and correct method is to use an infrared laser placed at ground level. When an athlete jumps and breaks the plane of the laser with his/her hand, the height at which this occurs is measured. Devices based on United States Patent 5031903, "A vertical jump testing device comprising a plurality of vertically arranged measuring elements each pivotally mounted..." are also common. These devices are used at the highest levels of collegiate and professional performance testing. They are composed of several (roughly 70) 14-inch prongs placed 0.5 inches apart vertically. An athlete will then leap vertically (no running start or step) and make contact with the retractable prongs to mark their leaping ability. This device is used each year at the NFL scouting combine.