I came across this article from Jacob Hiller, a renowned strength and conditioning coach who has worked with both NBA and Olympic athletes. The article outlines 9 aspects to vertical jump training that he finds very important and how they work together to bring you closer to your jumping goals.
I’m going to go over the nine things in a vertical training program; the nine things you need to focus on in order to obtain the maximum explosion that your body has.
The nine things work together in a synergistic effect so that when you train one of them, it might help you in another aspect, so that when you are improving all of the aspects of the jump training program you’re going to notice that they’re all going to work together. We call that synergy; it’s kind of the buzzword when things work together; the one plus one equals three kind of thing. The parts of the jump training program working together will create a whole that is greater than each one working individually.
The first is strength, your ability to generate force. We’re also talking about two different kinds of strength. We’re working on fast twitch muscle strength; not just the ability to lift something up, but to do so quickly.
The second aspect is quickness. How fast you are able to generate that force is going to create the explosion. Strength plus quickness equals explosion.
It’s a pretty simple formula but it makes sense. If you’re able to generate a thousand pounds of force but you can do it in a split second, it’s going to create some propulsion. So strength and quickness are the top two facets of a vertical jump program.
#3 Neurological Recruitment:
The third one you may never have heard of: it’s called neurological recruitment. For example, when you do any type of exercise, your body is recruiting a certain amount of muscle fibers and is recruiting it in a certain way so you can generate your force and quickness. You can train your body to recruit more muscle fibers and you can train them to do it quicker.
To give you an example of why we’re not all using our muscle recruiting to our top capacity:
We all have something in our bodies called the Golgi tendon and that’s something that keeps our bodies from using too much force. You’ve heard of people being able who have been able to save their children from underneath a car. They have a rush of adrenaline which bypasses the Golgi tendon which would usually stop the muscle contraction and lets them generate all the force that they’re capable of. So it’s kind of neat to know that we have the capacity to do a whole lot know than even our body will allow us to do unless we have enough adrenaline or energy or focus going on. So neurological recruitment will be important.
The fourth one is fuel. You need fuel to contract your muscles properly. You need carbs and energy and denizen triphosphate in order to have that workout force. You also need the right proteins, amino acids, carbs and calories in order to build the muscles properly.
Now listen to this; it’s very important: If you’re not getting those things to build the muscles correctly, you’re workouts are not nearly as effective as they could be. Not nearly. Probably 50 % effective. Your eating correctly, drinking a protein shake after your workout, making sure you get carbs, calories, proteins, and amino acids–that is going to make a huge difference. So that’s fuel.
#5 Stability & Balance:
The fifth one is stability and balance. If your legs and calves are strong, you’re generating a ton of force to propel yourself. But if your ankle structure is wobbly, when that force is created, some of that is going to be absorbed into that unstable structure, and you’re going to lose some of your jumping capacity. So the more you can strengthen your joints and surrounding structures, the more efficient that’s going to be as you drive through.
The balance issue is, maybe you’ve had the time when you’ve had a breakaway and you’re going down the court and you go off one foot and you’ve lost your balance kind of and it’s completely messed up, your legs wobbly, your off balance… your stability and explosion are just going to grease the wheels of your vertical explosion.
#6 & #7 Form & Flexibility:
The sixth and seventh ones are form and flexibility. The form and flexibility work together. The reason why is that flexibility allows your muscles to do a full range of motion. For example if you rear back to hit a punching bag, if you only rear back a little bit to hit the punching bag, you might hit it pretty hard, but imagine if you reared all the way back and you had plenty of flexibility and range of motion so that you could take full advantage of full momentum of hitting that punching bag. It’s going to be a whole lot harder of a hit.
The same is true in jumping. Probably by making a few tweaks to your current form and being able to make a increasing your flexibility and range of motion, being able to bring your arms completely back and being able to swing them completely up, and transfer and forward momentum to upward momentum toward the rim or the net or whatever your sport is. I’ve seen a lot of people, they run up to the rim, stop on a dime, and then jump straight up. They’re losing a lot of forward momentum that could be transferred to upward momentum instead of stopped in going straight up.
#8 Body Composition:
The eighth one is very simple, it’s just body composition. If you have excess fat on your body, it’s going to be affected by gravity and it’s going to weigh you down a little more. SO if you can keep yourself between 8 and 14 percent body fat you’re going to be in an optimal position to go against gravity.
#9 Hereditary Factors:
Finally there’s something that we can’t really affect but that we should be aware of: hereditary factors. We all have so much fast muscle fiber, we have so much muscle fiber period, and we all have so much slow twitch muscle fiber. So some people are going to be more natural jumpers than others. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strengthen the fibers we do have to their maximum capacity.
Unfortunately you cannot convert slow muscle fiber to fast muscle fiber yet; when we can, we’re all going to be jumping out of the gym. So these are the nine aspects of a jump training program. Try and understand each one of them. They’re pretty simple; and as you improve on each one of them. you’re going to notice a vast improvement in how high you can jump and just the smoothness and overall feel… You’re going to just start feeling light on your feet, anytime you just want to jump up, pop up, anytime to dunk, or slam a volleyball, or block someone’s shot, whatever it is.
If you appreciated that, you can find more of Jacob's wisdom via his book, The Jump Manual, which you can pick up at his site: http://jumpmanual.com/