Jumping plays a major role in many sports, not just basketball and volleyball. A blocked shot, a rebound/put-back, or a high catch could be the difference between a win and a loss. All athletes want a more powerful vertical, but not everyone trains correctly in a way that will accomplish it. (Learn more about building your vertical jump through STACK’s Guide to Jumping Higher)
The goal of any plyometric exercise is to make a player more explosive. To do this efficiently requires applying the greatest amount of force in the shortest amount of time. However, because of the high impact and intensity of these exercises, maintaining perfect technique is crucial. Another major aspect is recovery. Given the anaerobic nature of the movements, adequate rest is needed between sets. If this doesn’t happen, it will turn into an aerobic workout.
Remember, the emphasis needs to be on quality, not quantity. I suggest 60 to 90 seconds of rest between sets, so you can exert maximum effort on every rep. When jumping, if you notice your knees caving in during takeoff or landing, stop immediately and do not attempt this workout. (Read my previous article, Reduce ACL Injuries By Preventing Knock Knees.)
Med Ball Granny Toss
Treat every rep like it’s your last and make sure every toss is done with maximum effort and speed.
- Squat down holding ball between your knees
- Set hips back, bend knees and keep back straight and chest up
- Explode off ground by extending ankles, knees and hips while throwing ball straight overhead
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Med Ball Squat & Press
If you have a brick wall, press ball to it to gauge your height from rep to rep.
- Squat down holding ball at chest level
- Explode off ground by extending ankles, knees and hips while pressing ball overhead
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Barbell Jump Squat
Use 30 to 50 percent of your one rep max on the Squat to determine an appropriate weight. After picking a weight, if you are unable to move fast enough, decrease the weight. (Learn more about different types of Jump Squats.)
- Place barbell on upper back or hold dumbbell in each hand
- Squat down and immediately jump straight up
- Land in athletic stance with knees slightly bent
- Immediately start sinking down into Squat, then explode back up
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Dumbbell Step-Up/Box Blast Off Superset
This form of training is called contrast training, in which a strength exercise is paired with a plyometric exercise that trains the same muscles.
Sets/Reps: 3×6 on each leg
- Holding dumbbells at sides, start with one foot on box and other foot on floor roughly six inches behind and in line with hip
- Drive off leg on box to get upright
- Raise knee of trailing leg to waist level
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After performing a set of Dumbbell Step-Ups, set dumbbells down and immediately perform Box Blast Off.
Box Blast Off
: 3×6 each leg box
- Explosively drive off leg on box to get as much height as possible
- Land with same foot on box
- Repeat for specified reps
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Stability Ball Hamstring Curl/Hip Extension Superset
These exercises strengthen the hamstrings and glutes, which are crucial for jumping and knee health.
Sets/Reps: 2×12 each exercise
Stability Ball Hamstring Curl
- Lie on back with feet on top of stability ball, just past center
- Pull ball toward body while simultaneously raising hips off ground
- At top of movement, maintain straight line from knees to shoulders
- Return ball in controlled manner to start position
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Stability Ball Hip Extension
- Place heels on ball, creating slightly less than 90-degree angle with bent knees
- Drive off heels to raise hips off ground to form straight line from knees to shoulders
- Hold at top for two seconds
- Slowly return to start position
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Check out STACK’s Plyometric Exercise Library
for more vertical-boosting exercises.