Many athletes ask themselves, “Why can’t I increase my vertical jump?” The vertical jump has been an important measurable for many sports such as basketball, volleyball, and football. Most coaches, from high school to the pros, use this measurement as part as an overall assessment of a players athletic ability. If you want to make it to the next level, improving your vertical jump can increase your chances of doing so. If you find yourself asking why I can’t increase my vertical jump, here are some reasons that could be holding you back and can be correct with a good jumping program.
You’re Too Heavy
One thing you need to assess is your body type and conditioning. It’s possible you could be carrying too much fat for your body type or position. The more you weigh, the more strength and speed it takes to jump higher. All positions in each sport require certain body types therefore it’s difficult to recommend a specific weight or body fat percentage. If you are a lineman, don’t get down to 250 lbs just to increase your vertical jump or you’ll end up on the sidelines!
The best way to lower you body fat is to clean up you diet and engage in high intensity exercise like sprinting and weight training. Your diet should comprise of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and health fats. Keep saturated fats, simple sugars (i.e. most junk food), and alcohol to a minimum.
You Are Too Weak
Increasing your strength is a great way to improve your leaping ability if you are asking how to increase my vertical. Many athletes outside of sports such as football often neglect strength training because they believe the extra muscle will slow them down. Strength training will actually have the opposite effect as long as you maintain your flexibility and reasonable body fat levels.
You need to strengthen your whole body to get that big vertical and become a better athlete. Examples of strength training exercises include squats for legs, bench press for chest, military press for shoulder, stiff legged deadlifts for hamstrings and lower back, chin-ups and rows for upper back and lats, and calf raise for calves.
You Are Too Slow
Mass times acceleration equals power. If you are lacking the acceleration, you won’t have the power to elevate above the rim. You need to explode off the ground in order to jump higher. If I find myself needing to increase my vertical, speed work is usually the answer. Many coaches want to know their athletes’ vertical’s because it tells them how much explosive power they have.
You can actually improve you jumping speed in the gym and on the track. In the gym, you can improve you jump speed by training with speed squats. These are squats that are about 50-60% of you maximum squat and they are performed fast. If you are a 400 lb squatter, you need to be training your 250 lb squats as if you had 400 lbs on the bar! You can also train your speed by performing sprints over distances of 40-100 yards.
You Can’t Jump
I know that you have the ability to jump. What I mean is that either you don’t have good jumping technique or just need to practice jumping. It’s difficult to explain jumping technique in writing but I can tell you that jumping should be a full body exercise. You need to learn to use your upper body as well as you legs.
You can do all the sprinting and strength training in the world, but you still need to practice jumping. You can practice using drills know as plyometrics. These are repetitive drills that develop your reactive strength and explosion. There are many plyometric drills to choose. Such exercises include box jumps, depth jumps, forward bounds, slalom jumps, power skipping, jump rope, vertical jumps, and much more. You should find a way to incorporate these into your jumping program.
If you are asking why I can’t increase my vertical, you should assess if one of the reasons above is holding you back. A good jumping program will address the areas of strength, flexibility, speed, conditioning, and technique. Performing exercises to jump higher will increase your vertical in no time!