The athlete who possesses the dominating edge is usually the most explosive guy or girl on the field. Although we're not all born running fast and jumping high, proper training can certainly improve our abilities.
Becoming explosive takes developing elastic energy in the muscles. Think of the power of a rubber band when you stretch and snap it. Plyometric exercises are the best way to accomplish this. Over time, they will increase your overall power output. However, it's important that in each exercise you focus on maintaining proper technique while cutting the amount of contact time with the ground.
The key to maximizing your vertical jump is setting up in the proper position. Your feet are shoulder-width apart. Start on the balls of your feet with your heels in the air. Knees are straight, hips forward and arms straight up in the air.
All at once, rapidly bring your arms down and back while bending your hips and knees and bringing your heels to the ground. From this position, jump in the air as fast as you can. Be sure to straighten your knees and hips and bring your arms forward and up all at once.
The best way to reduce the risk of injury is to always land in the proper position. When your feet come in contact with the ground, they should land shoulder-width apart, and your knees should land directly over your toes at about 90 degrees. Your hips are back to absorb the force of the ground and should go no lower than your knees.
Your foot position will vary depending on the type of jump. For a vertical jump, feet land toe to heel. For a broad (forward) jump, feet land heel to toe. For side jumps, the outside foot lands slightly before inside foot.
When the landing position is mastered, you can then progress to more advanced jumps. Below are several of the best plyometrics exercises for building your vertical, but you can also check out STACK's Plyometrics Exercise Library for more plyo moves to round out your workout.
Choose a box height based on your jumping ability. You should be able to jump the box quickly without any struggle. Jump on and off of the box as quickly as possible while getting your feet on and off the ground as fast as you can. Go for 10 to 15 seconds depending on your level of conditioning. Do four to five sets with at least 90 seconds of rest in between. Each set requires maximum effort so sufficient rest is important.
To add a bit more of a challenge, try lateral speed jumps with a slightly lower box. Jump on and off the box sideways as fast as you can for the same amount of sets and reps.
Set up 5-10 hurdles two to four feet away from each other with a challenging height. With good form, jump rapidly over each hurdle while maintaining balance. Three to six sets with 30-60 seconds rest between sets will get you more explosive in no time.
Single legs jumps allow athletes to balance out the power in each leg individually. When athletes can do two-legged jumps with good form, they can progress to single leg jumps.
Choose a box height that is about the same height as your knee. Face the box with one foot flat on top of it and other foot is flat on the ground. The leg on the ground is straight while the foot on the box is bent at about 90 degrees.
Push into the box hard with your foot and jump up into the air as high as you can while driving your arms forward and up. While in the air, switch your feet so that the foot that was on the ground lands on the box and the foot that was on the box lands on the ground. Quickly jump again and alternate legs.
Perform five jumps on each leg. Do four to five sets with at least 60 seconds between each set for maximal height on each jump.
Take your jump training to the next level with STACK's Guide to Jumping Higher.