I learned that insects are fucking awesome. There was an insect in particular that I was interested in called the froghopper, or spittlebug, that is basically one of the world’s top jumpers. It’s a survival mechanism. It can jump far, far higher than we can as a function of its weight, basically. So I learned that humans are quite modest in the jumping scheme of things.
After four months of failing to pull off anything even resembling a real dunk, the planets aligned on Aug. 9: After at least 19 failed attempts that afternoon, I dunked a soccer ball on a middle school court whose rim measured 9' 11". (The original basketball, incidentally, was a soccer ball, property of Dr. Naismith’s employer, Springfield College.) Video from that afternoon shows me standing there, looking confused, in the moment afterward. Did that just happen? Failing had become so routine that even this small success felt foreign.
Often times, basketball players have used one-leg jumping their whole life. It's just a much more natural movement because it's used every single time someone goes for a layup. On the other hand, volleyball players are often used to two-foot jumping because it is the most common way to jump when trying to block or spike. So, if you have all the suppositions to be a great two-foot jumper, but you get barely of the ground this way, it's probably because of a lack of technique.
I sent a video of my soccer ball dunk to Todd, the #fivefivedunker, who informed me that I was leading with the wrong leg. I’d been taking my last big step with my left foot, which, as a righty, was like swinging a bat cross-handed. A few days later I encountered a blogger and 43-year-old dunker named Andy Nicholson who showed me, among many other things, that I wasn’t the only one with blood on my hands. Nicholson was one of dozens of YouTubers, young and old (mostly young), who were documenting online their attempts to dunk. “Yes!” he yelled over the phone when I told him about the open sores on my fingers. “Those are badges of honor!”
If you took a poll of the areas athletes wanted to improve the most, their vertical jump would be among the tops. Athletes playing basketball and volleyball rely on their verticals in a number of ways, but one major way is it gives them an edge to stand out amongst their peers. Players want to jump higher and coaches are looking for players that can put some space between their feet and the court.
At the onset of the jump, the ball is controlled by either one or both hands and once in the air is typically brought to chest level. The player will then quickly thrust the ball downwards and fully extend their arms, bringing the ball below the waist. Finally the ball is brought above the head and dunked with one or both hands; and the double clutch appears as one fluid motion. As a demonstration of athletic prowess, the ball may be held in the below-the-waist position for milliseconds longer, thus showcasing the player's hang time (jumping ability).
On the basis of the results of the SOAP study,3 which showed a rate of death of 43% among patients receiving dopamine and a rate of 36% among patients receiving norepinephrine, we estimated that with 765 patients in each group, the study would have 80% power to show a 15% relative difference in the rate of death at 28 days, at a two-sided alpha level of 0.05.
It takes a higher vertical leap to get both hands up to the rim versus just one (and don’t forget, you’ll be holding a basketball as well), so if you’re cutting it close, try for a one-handed jam. Being able to palm the ball will obviously help, but it’s not totally necessary; just make sure you keep the ball in both hands until you leave the floor so you don’t lose it.
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.
Using only a lifting (concentric) phase for strength training exercises could also be more effective for improving vertical jump height than traditional, stretch-shortening cycle exercises under load, for two reasons. Firstly, using only a lifting phase involves faster rate of force development through higher rate coding, and this may increase high-velocity strength more over the long-term. Secondly, doing stretch-shortening cycle exercises under load *might* cause the tendons to increase stiffness to a greater extent. This would make the muscle lengthen more in the countermovement phase of a jump, and thereby reduce muscle force for a given countermovement depth.
Slow-Motion Squats – Involves standing with your feet shoulder width apart. From this position slowly lower down until you are in a deep squat making sure your heels are ﬂat on the ground. Hold for 2 seconds before slowly rising back to the starting position. The descent and rise should each take 4 seconds to complete. Throughout the entire exercise make sure to keep your head up and your back straight.