To improve your vertical leap, work out using exercises that build muscles, then train them for jumping. Certain types of exercises help increase muscle size, while others help improve explosive and reactive power. The main difference among these types of exercises is the amount of weight or resistance you use and the number of repetitions you perform.
Target your leg muscles for increased size using deadlifts, squats, lunges, presses, hamstring curls, and heel raises. Use as much weight as you can safely lift and perform five reps per set of an exercise. Take a short break between sets and perform three sets of one exercise before taking a longer break and starting a new exercise. Perform muscle-building exercises in the off-season.
To do deadlifts, stand in front of a weight and lower yourself while keeping your torso straight. Grasp the weight, and using your legs and hips, slowly raise the weight by standing straight up. Be careful to lift slowly, keeping your spine straight and using your legs to prevent a back injury. For squats, start with the weight on your shoulders, then lower yourself to a sitting position, keeping your torso straight on the way down. Pause and stand straight up. Lunges are similar to squats, except that you hold weights down at your sides as you take a long stride forward to bend down. For heel raises, hold weights in your hands and raise yourself onto your toes for 10 seconds.
Breathe out during each rep as you perform heavy weight lifting exercises to prevent a sudden spike in your blood pressure. Take at least 24 hours between lifting sessions.
Explosive strength is necessary for a quick, powerful move in one direction, such as a jump straight up. Work on explosive exercises a month or so before your season starts.
Box jumps require you to jump onto a platform with both feet. Stand in front of a box, bench, or other platform that’s about knee height. Jump onto it with both feet. Perform six reps per set and increase the height of the platform as you improve each week. Perform deadlifts with 30 percent to 50 percent of the maximum weight you can lift. Perform box squats by starting from a sitting position. Use about 30 percent of your maximum weight and stand straight up. Practice a few without weights to find the right sitting position to avoid a back injury.
Reactive power is the energy you create when you combine two or more muscle movements. Examples include bending down at the knees before you jump up for a basketball dunk, tennis serve or volleyball spike. Perform these exercises during your pre-season and throughout your season.
Jump off a box that’s roughly equal to your current, maximum vertical leap. When you land, immediately jump back into the air. To perform reactive squats, use about one third of your maximum weight, and lower yourself about half as much as you would for a standing squat. Keeping your torso straight and using only your leg muscles, jump straight up. Other reactive, or plyometric, exercises include bounding across a gym and walking back, skipping with high knees, and standing broad jumps.