Before you take on these vertical jump exercises, spend a few minutes looking over the plyometric section of our website. When you increase your vertical jump, you’re actually altering the nature of your muscle fibers, and our plyometric articles can explain how this works. Meanwhile, keep working on strength-building exercises for your quads, glutes and hips, and remember to keep an eye on any hesitation between your jumps.
In the 2008 Sprite Rising Star's Slam Dunk Contest Dwight Howard performed the "Superman" dunk. He donned a Superman outfit as Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson tied a cape around his shoulders. Nelson alley-ooped the basketball as Howard jumped from within the key side of the free throw circle line, caught the ball, and threw it through the rim. This dunk is somewhat controversial, as his hand was not over as well as on a vertical plane to the rim. Some insist that it should in fact be considered a dunk because the ball was thrust downward into the basket, meeting the basic definition of the dunk.
No, I think there’s a practical aspect to that. It’s hard to grip a basketball. I mean, that’s another physical challenge. I have pretty small hands, and one thing I had to train myself to do, which I couldn’t do at the start of this project, is palm a basketball. So that involved fingertip push-ups, to get the tips of your fingers much stronger. It involves, while hanging out and watching television, trying to palm a basketball for as long as you can. You want to get into a quick, full sprint, and you want to be able to grip the basketball as you go up to jam it. So doing those things can be a challenge. That’s partly what’s behind people doing the alley-oop-type things or throwing it up off the backboard. In some cases, they simply can’t grip the ball on the way to the hoop, so their solution is to throw it in the air, catch it, and try to bring it down.
Dunking became a game again. After my closest misses I’d hop around and swear like a golfer whose playoff putt had lipped out. These outbursts were no longer harsh self-admonitions but celebrations of my progress, acknowledgements that I was getting tantalizingly close. I could feel my legs gaining in bounciness. I could feel my hips, quads and calves learning to fire simultaneously. My original lobber returned to the scene and suggested I try dunking in the morning instead of the evening, when the batteries in our old bodies are as low as the ones in our phones. I added this sage advice to the long list of microdetails “that help you steal inches,” as Todd had phrased it months earlier. “A quarter inch here, a half inch there.”
Even so, the back squat does differ in important ways from the vertical jump. Primarily, it involves a much greater trunk extension turning force, because of the barbell weight on the upper back, and this likely contributes to the more hip-dominant nature of the squat over the vertical jump. Secondly, it is often performed to a deeper depth, which can alter the relative contribution of each of the hip extensors to the movement, because of their different leverages at each joint angle. And thirdly, it only involves accelerating up to midway through the movement, while the vertical jump involves accelerating right up until take-off. This also affects the relative contribution of the hip extensors, as force production will be required in the jump even when the hip is nearly fully extended, while this is unnecessary in the squat.
Discussed in this module are activities which when applied, modify a given dunk type. Modifier-activities occur prior to leaping or while airborne. Modifiers performed prior to leaping pertain to the manner of approach (e.g., locomotion or standstill), angle of approach (e.g., from the baseline), distance of leap from the basket, the addition of a pass (e.g., alley-oop), or some combination thereof. Modifiers performed while airborne pertain to bodily rotation (e.g., 360°), obstruction of own vision (e.g., arm-over-the-eyes), other bodily movements superfluous of dunk type (e.g., voluntary kicking of the legs), or some combination thereof. Dunk types can also be modified with obstructions (e.g., leaping over a car or person) which influence activities both prior to leaping and while airborne.
Plyometrics is the best known of the jumping development exercise programs. Plyometrics training emphasizes speed and explosive movement, and a plyometrics program will typically consist of a series of bounding, hopping, and jumping drills. The object of a plyometrics program is to perform the exercises at maximum intensity. For this reason, plyometrics training must be approached with caution, and the athlete must progress slowly from one level to the next to reduce the risk of injury. Proper rest intervals must also be incorporated in to plyometrics training, as the exercises are intended to place significant stress on the target muscle groups.
Joe would die some 30 years later, at age 82, but what he said that day as he stood in a puddle of dry tobacco—his clothes disheveled, the other Fortenberrys yelping a chorus of excited Yessirs—spoke to me in a way that can only be understood by those who blindly take on missions that exact a greater toll than was envisioned. “Well,” he said with a grin, “that’s the last time I’ll ever do that.”
The record for the most WNBA dunks belongs to Brittney Griner. As a high school senior, she dunked 52 times in 32 games and set a single-game record of seven dunks. As a standout at Baylor University, Griner became the seventh player to dunk during a women's college basketball game and the second woman to dunk twice in a single college game. In her WNBA debut on May 27, 2013, Griner dunked twice, and as of 2014, has five WNBA dunks, including the first in a playoff game (August 25, 2014).
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.