How to Increase Your Vertical Leap

5 Steps to Increasing Your Vertical Leap

We are in the middle of the basketball season with high schools, colleges, and pro teams all hitting the court at the same time. It’s a sport where vertical leap is a huge part of the game. Tip-offs, blocks, and dunking all require a vertical leap.

Of course, vertical leap comes into play in many other sports. It may seem like a skill that people are simply born with, but that’s not the case. There are ways to improve vertical leap. Here’s how in 5 steps!

Step 1. Measure First

Before you can improve your vertical leap you have to know your starting point. Measuring your current vertical leap is easy:

  • Find a wall that’s higher than you can jump.
  • Find a friend that can help you mark and measure the jump. They’ll need a ladder to stand on.
  • Have the friend stand on the ladder. Stand next to the wall then jump and touch the wall as high as you can. 
  • The friend can use chalk to mark where your fingers touch. 
  • Use a measuring tape to determine how high you reached to get the vertical leap measurement. 

You can also use an alternate measurement that involves standing reach. Before jumping stand next to the wall and reach up with your hand as high as you can. Mark where the fingers touch. That is your standing reach. The distance between the standing reach and jumping reach is the vertical jump height. 

Step 2. Stretch Every Day

Too often, athletes underestimate the importance of stretching. Staying limber helps improve flexibility and keeps muscles healthy for all sorts of movement, including jumps.

One of the most important stretches for vertical leap is the hip flexor stretch. Hip flexor muscles work to pull the knees upward, and they tend to be tight from sitting a lot. When the hip flexors are tight it inhibits the gluteus maximus, which hurts vertical leap. Tight hip flexors also prevent complete hip extension. When you are jumping vertically you want a full extension. 

While you’re stretching use a foam roller to get out the knots. Muscle knots can shorten the length of muscle tissue and make them weaker. The foam roller can be used on quads, glutes, calves, hamstrings and outer thighs.

Step 3. Make Squats Part of Your Regular Workout Routine

Squats target all of the major muscles used to jump vertically and is considered a total body exercise. It can also help you build balance, which is beneficial beyond jumping. 

There are three squat exercises that can help improve vertical leap:

  • Standard Deep Squats
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Jump Squats

Each squat should be slow and controlled. Proper form is also important. Keep your head up and back straight during each rep.

Step 4. Start Strength Training

Vertical leap is all about explosive power. The stronger your muscles are the more explosive that power will be. There are certain strength training exercises that can be used to build strength in the muscles that are primarily used to leap. 

Trap Bar Deadlifts

Deadlifts are great for building gluteal muscle strength and helps put more force to the ground to launch upward. A trap bar enables you to stand in the center of the barbell. You reach down, grab the barbell and then stand straight lifting the weights as you go. 

Weighted Squats

Adding weights to your squats helps to build muscle mass and strength.

Weighted Calf Raises

Calf raises are the best way to build the calf muscles and are extremely easy to do. 

Dumbbell Snatches

While your legs are doing most of the work, leaping is a whole-body movement. Dumbbell snatches are great for working the entire body while also helping increase speed. 

Step 5. Jump, Jump and Jump Some More

If should come as no surprise that jumping (a lot) helps improve vertical leap. To make the most progress in the shortest amount of time try:

  • Depth jumps
  • Box jumps
  • Knee-to-feet jumps
  • High-reach jumps
  • Lateral jumps
  • Lunge jumps
  • Straight leg calf jumps
  • Jump squats

Another exercise you’ll want to do is jump rope. Just a few minutes a day can help. Jump rope before stretching to increase blood flow and warm up the muscles.

As simple as jumping is, there’s technique involved. Using proper technique can add inches to your vertical leap. 

Want to make sure your jump technique is on point? The trainers at Optimal Sports Performance can work with you in one-on-one training sessions to perfect your jumping technique. We’ll also create a training routine focused on calisthenics and strength exercises that target the muscles needed to leap higher.

Come by to check out our gym and speak with a trainer about your goals.