When tendons elongate to a greater extent during a jumping movement that is preceded by a countermovement, the muscle lengthens less. This produces two effects. Firstly, the greater elongation of the tendon means that more elastic energy is stored during the countermovement, which is then released in the subsequent jumping phase. Secondly, the smaller elongation of the muscle means that countermovement depth can be greater for the same shortening velocity in the subsequent jumping phase, because the muscle never lengthened that much to begin with. Since shortening velocity determines force, this allows the same muscle force to be produced, despite the larger joint range of motion.
By emphasizing certain muscles in your legs, you can train your body for the force needed to leap high. Increasing your vertical jump will improve your rebounding, blocking, dunking, and make you an all-around better basketball player. Here are a few of CoachUp’s favorite exercises for improving your leg strength and vertical jump. If you ever need extra motivation to get through these exercises on a daily basis, just re-watch these gifs and focus up!
An important component of maximizing height in a vertical jump is attributed to the use of counter-movements of the legs and arm swings prior to take off, as both of these actions have been shown to significantly increase the body’s center of mass rise. The counter-movement of the legs, a quick bend of the knees which lowers the center of mass prior to springing upwards, has been shown to improve jump height by 12% compared to jumping without the counter-movement. This is attributed to the stretch shortening cycle of the leg muscles enabling the muscles to create more contractile energy. Furthermore, jump height can be increased another 10% by executing arm swings during the take off phase of the jump compared to if no arm swings are utilized. This involves lowering the arms distally and posteriorly during the leg counter-movements, and powerfully thrusting the arms up and over the head as the leg extension phase begins. As the arms complete the swinging movement they pull up on the lower body causing the lower musculature to contract more rapidly, hence aiding in greater jump height. Despite these increases due to technical adjustments, it appears as if optimizing both the force producing and elastic properties of the musculotendinous system in the lower limbs is largely determined by genetics and partially mutable through resistance exercise training.