Vertical Jump Workouts

By Robin Odach , last updated February 12, 2012

Athletes who build strength with resistance training often use plyometric drills to increase vertical jump performance. The drills rely on stopping, starting and changing direction very quickly. Michael G. Miller and his team at Western Michigan University tested athletes in a six week plyometric program and found that the athletes had improved in vertical jump performance, acceleration and leg strength. The first drills in these exercises teach athletes how to land safely.

Bounding and Skipping
Bounding and skipping exercises take place on soft surfaces, such as grass or synthetic tracks. Bounding is running in slow motion, while landing with your entire foot rather than heel or toe. This helps the muscles absorb the shock rather than bones and joints. Minimize ground contact with each movement. Skipping is similar, but the athlete tries to achieve as much height as possible, landing on alternate feet while keeping the torso straight.
Squat Jump
Squat Jumps are done using a step or bench. Stand in front of the step, bend the knees and hop up to the step, making sure to keep your knees aligned with your toes. Land toe to heel on softly bent knees and then hop back to the floor, trying to land “light as a feather.” Squat Jumps help athletes learn how to land safely.
Lateral Jumps
Stand beside a bench, box or object that is about 12 inches high. Practice jumping sideways over the object, and then back, which counts as one repetition. Keep it quick, minimizing contact with the ground as much as possible. Jump as high as possible each time. Squat and lateral jumps should be practiced over a period of several weeks. They build ankle strength while increasing balance in motion skills.
Tuck, Broad and Angle Jumps
Start with your feet directly under shoulders and jump as high as possible, while bringing your knees to your chest. Keep contact with the ground to a minimum. Repeat to the desired number of repetitions. Broad Jumps begin by positioning the feet shoulder-width apart and keeping the knees slightly bent in a semi-squat position. Jump forward as far as far as possible and land on both feet. Reassume the beginning position and jump again. Angle jumps begin as broad jumps but involve jumping at an angle, aiming for two yards to the right. Repeat the jump two yards to the left and continue to a distance of 20 yards.
Vertical Jumps
Start with your feet shoulder-width and knees slightly bent. Jump as high as you can while reaching up with both hands. The CLN Jump to Vertical begins the same way, but quickly drop your butt low and keep your head and shoulders back, and then explode straight up as high as possible while reaching with up with your right arm. After landing, pause briefly and then repeat the jump using your left arm instead.
Advanced Drills
Plyometric exercises should be accompanied by a total body workout at least twice a week. The athletic department writers at the University of Central Missouri recommend that athletes refrain from advanced drills such as depth jumps, hurdle jumps and single leg hops until the athlete can squat twice his body weight. An athlete should also be able to leg press weights that are 2.5 times his body weight.
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