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Vertical Jump Secrets

Mark Sias provides some tips on how you can improve your vertical jump

Try this trick for instant vertical jump increases. Test your jump by seeing how high on the backboard you get. Now close your eyes and vividly imagine yourself exploding upwards to a goal you have. Next, imagine all the muscles in your legs getting stronger and bigger. Then you should focus on feeling lighter, loose, and springy. Think about it for a moment. Finally, repeat this out loud or in your head "I feel myself getting more powerful and much lighter". Now you are ready to try that jump again. Everyone I have taught this method so far has experienced an immediate gain of no less than 2 inches and some as much as 5 inches!

Forceful arm-swing

This is a neglected jump factor that can account for 15% more lift. Try this, on the next jump you go for I want you to deliberately concentrate on swinging your arms up fast, timing it with the jump. See what happens.


Those elite gymnasts that I have worked with can generate a lot of total body power. How else do you pull off a Triple back-flip? All of them have total body flexibility, which has too many benefits to mention here, but one is a role in the stretch-reflex-shortening cycle. Start stretching at least 3 times a week. One final thought here, stretch after your workouts as research indicates stretching before an event or workout decreases power output. Pay special attention to the hip flexors, hamstrings, and gluts.

Inner abdominal strength

I am not referring to the Director-abs you get from sit-ups; you already know they are important. I am talking about the transverse abdominal wall, underneath them, which plays a key role in every power movement and you can make them stronger. Suck in your stomach with a deep breath; try to imagine sucking into the spine. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then breathe out. Repeat 4 more times, do these 3 to 4 times a week to reap the performance rewards and the appearance of a slimmer waist as the internal organs will not sag!

The Over speed Jump

You will not find this jump drill in any manual, e-book, or training programs. If you ever get bored of doing the same old plyometrics here is a completely new exercise to add to the mix. Plyometrics seek to train the nervous system to speed up reflex action for jumps, or any explosive movements for that matter at the takeoff. Maximum power training, along with traditional weight training seeks to add to the strength side of the equation. But what about raw muscle speed? Here is a brand-new drill for just that: What you will first need is a small jogging trampoline, if not a makeshift ramp about 6ft. in length may do. Next what you need is a target that you jump at like say a basketball hoop. Now what you are going to do is place the trampoline 1 to 2 strides away from the goal, run and make your last step before you plan to jump a stride off the tramp (note: you are not doing actual jumps off the mini-tramp). This will over speed your run just before the actual take-off, making your legs jump quicker as well! When done correctly you will make a noticeably higher leap! This is what you will gain when you teach your muscles to move faster through the jump. We are currently experimenting with better methods and new training like this and even better ones to come. Stay tuned in!

Strengthen the Tibialis Anterior

Here is one that many athletes have used with great results. This muscle is located on the shin and is referred to as the Version-Flexors. Build these and you will add inches to your jump, eliminate shin splints, and improve take-off quickness. The Version-Flexors. stabilize the lower leg allowing maximum take-off force. You will not target this group using the Proprioceptor plugs. The reason this works is that each muscle group has a counter-balancing group of muscles. You can only be as strong as the opposing muscles, so hundreds of weighted calf raise will soon plateau if you do not develop these stabilizers. One way to start working them is to try walking around on your heels without letting the ball of your foot touch until you feel a good burn.

Build fast-twitch muscle fibres, speed up slow-twitch fibres

If you want to make leaps and bounds first we have to stop the bleeding! By this, I mean no more slow-twitch inducing exercises like aerobics. Ask yourself does the sport you are involved with requires power or endurance? If you are a football player, gymnast, or sprinter (I think you get my point) you do not need aerobic training. When would you use it?

The more you do long-duration endurance training the more your muscles will learn oxygen-consuming low output slow-twitch characteristics. You want muscles that are becoming more efficient at using the creatine phosphate energy system! So without sounding like I hate aerobics here, you need to focus on those high-intensity/short duration drills like sprinting.

Interestingly enough sprinters have the highest % of fast-twitch muscles of all athletes. Who do you think jumps higher the sprinter or the marathoner? One final thought on this subject is recent research on Nitric Oxide (NO) supplements seems to indicate that they speed up fast-twitch muscles and seem to make slow-twitch fibres act more like the fast as well. This may make this the ultimate in vertical jump supplementation rivalling with Creatine Monohydrate!

Wave Loading

Here is another good instant vertical trick you can play on the nervous system. Load your body with some weight before jumping, like say jumping with a medicine ball. What happens is your body will recruit more motor units in the working muscles, allowing the work to seem much easier when you do not have the weight because you are now using more of them! This trick works with any exercise and is great for breaking plateaus. Another variable of this method is what I call an "unloading jump". To perform this all you need to do is grab a pair of 10lb dumbbells (or any weight) hold them at waist level, quick step up to the rim to do a rim jump (countermovement jump) at the peak of crouch just before you take off for the rim drop the weights and blast off. One set of 5-10 repetitions with this new drill will give instant as well as residual leap increases!

Springbak speedsoles

Former L.A. Laker Bill Crow is the genius behind these micro-thin shoe inserts, made of patented material, that are being used by U.S.A. Olympic volleyball teams. Remember the old saying "It must be the shoes", well it is if you have these speed-soles in them! When I first saw them, I thought the claims were a farce, so I had to buy some to put them to the test. We at Bionic Plyometrics found with the inserts, an immediate 2-inch increase in vertical jump and drop in 40 yard dash times of 1/10 of a second.

Strengthen the toe muscles

Flexor Hallucis Longus is the small muscles that start in the lower leg and come down to the big toe. Work this for an added inch by trying to curl in/or crunch the toes. Another drill is to push up onto the tiptoes and hold that for at least 10 seconds. After as little as 6 weeks with this, you can easily add an inch to the top!

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • SIAS, M. (2005) Vertical Jump Secrets. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 23 / June), p. 2-3

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • SIAS, M. (2005) Vertical Jump Secrets [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Mark Sias is a professional USAG gymnastics instructor. He conducts training clinics for High School and College athletes on strength, speed, and vertical jump training.