Dominate the Competition, Part 3: How to Jump Higher for Basketball

October 18, 2012 | Ramon Williams

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Check out previous articles in Ramon Williams' "Dominate the Competition" series: Basketball Strength Training Program and Basketball Upper-Body Plyometrics.

Ready for more ways to dominate on the basketball court this season? Regardless of your position, you can benefit from improving your jumping ability. Think about it: elevating over a defender, grabbing a rebound, blocking a shot or dunking—they all require airtime.

Since they train both the nervous system and the muscles, plyometrics maximize your power output, so they are a very effective training method. However, before beginning or progressing with plyometric training, it's important to build a strong foundation.

Below are several beginner, intermediate and advanced lower-body plyometric exercises. Don't skip the beginner and intermediate levels. Even the most advanced athlete can benefit from them, plus a strong base is essential for injury prevention. For sets and reps, see my 12-Week Jumping Program at the end of the article. For even more exercises, check out STACK's Jump Higher guide.

For all exercises, make sure to use proper landing position: land softly with bent knees and knees behind toes, in line with ankles.

How to Jump Higher for Basketball

Jump and Reach

  • Begin with arms straight up in the air directly above head
  • Set feet shoulder-width apart, with knees and hips forward
  • Lift heels slightly off ground so bodyweight is on balls of feet
  • Rapidly bring arms down and back, lower hips, bend knees and bring heels to ground
  • Swing arms forward and jump up as high as possible
  • Return to ground in proper landing position

Power Skip

  • Stand with arms by sides
  • Push right foot into ground and jump as high as possible while driving left knee up to waist level
  • Continue skipping as powerfully and as high as possible in opposite-arm, opposite-leg fashion

Single-Leg Box Push-Off

  • Choose a box around knee height
  • Begin with right foot on box and left foot flat on ground
  • Arms start down and back with hands behind hips
  • Bring arms forward and up while pushing right foot into box to maximize jump height
  • Land with left foot on box with knee and hip slightly bent; bring arms back down
  • Perform Push-Off with left leg and continue alternating

Double-Leg Line Jumps

  • Jump back and forth over a line or marker as fast as possible
  • Stay low to ground with each jump
  • Get on and off ground as quickly as possible with each jump

Intermediate Jump Drills

Lateral Box Jump

  • Choose box height that is challenging but so you can land with good balance and posture
  • Begin with box to right and both feet on ground, shoulder-width apart
  • Place arms straight over head
  • Keep knees and hips straight
  • Bring arms down and back while lowering hips and knees
  • Drive arms up as you jump up and onto box
  • Repeat to left side

Double-Leg Broad Jump

  • Use same jumping technique as Jump and Reach
  • Instead of jumping up, jump forward as far as possible without losing balance or good posture
  • Upon landing, go directly into next jump

Split-Squat Jump

  • Begin in lunge position with both legs bent at 90-degree angles, front foot flat on ground
  • Bring arms down and back so hands are behind hips
  • Swing arms forward and up while jumping from lunge position
  • Land in lunge position with same leg forward and repeat
  • Switch legs and repeat

Lateral Box Shuffle

  • Stand with four- to 12-inch box to right side
  • Step onto box with right foot followed by left foot
  • Step down on opposite side of box with right foot followed by left foot
  • Repeat to left, leading with left foot
  • Move feet on and off ground as quickly as possible

Advanced Jump Drills

Double-Leg Zigzag Hop

  • Use same jumping technique as Lateral Box Jump, but use hurdles arranged in zigzag pattern to jump over diagonally
  • Choose hurdle height that is challenging but so you can land with good balance and posture
  • Upon landing, quickly jump over next hurdle in zigzag pattern
  • Establish proper landing position after last jump
Depth Jumps
  • Start standing on 12- to 42-inch box in same position as Jump and Reach
  • Hang right foot over edge of box without bending left knee
  • Step off box, landing softly with both feet on ground at same time
  • Upon landing, jump straight up and finish in proper landing position

Depth Jumps on Box

  • Instead of jumping and landing on ground, jump from ground to another box
  • Choose box height that is challenging but so you can land with good balance and posture

Single-Leg Barrier Jump

  • Use same jumping and landing technique as Double Leg Zigzag Hop, except jump off and land on single leg
  • Add hurdles for more challenge
  • Bend knee and hip immediately upon landing to reduce risk of injury

12-Week Basketball Jump Program

Note: Exercises marked with an asterisk (*) indicate number of sets and reps for one leg/side.

Now that you know how to jump higher, check out my other "Dominate the Competition" articles:

See also Add Inches To Your Vertical Jump with Plyometrics for form tips.

Ramon Williams
- Ramon Williams graduated magna cum laude from Montclair State University with a B.S. in Physical Education. He is currently an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist...
Ramon Williams
- Ramon Williams graduated magna cum laude from Montclair State University with a B.S. in Physical Education. He is currently an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist...
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