The question I am asked most frequently – more than all other questions combined – is, what can I do to improve my vertical leap?
My answer is always the same: concentrate on developing all your fundamental skills and becoming a complete basketball player. A good vertical is helpful, but it’s not the most critical part of your game.
Most players want to improve their vertical so they can dunk, or rebound better, or to block shots. Let me explain a few basic facts to you.
1. Rebounding is about position, timing, and anticipation, not vertical leap. More rebounds are taken below the rim than above. You improve your rebounding by improving your quickness, so you can get into position; your strength, to maintain position and control the ball; and your anticipation (ability to anticipate the angle of the rebound based on the angle of the shot). You have to practice rebounding like anything else so these skills become second nature.
2. It’s fun to dunk, but what good is dunking unless you have the speed, quickness and moves to get into position to dunk? And during a game, how often realistically is there an opportunity to dunk?
3. Vertical leap is helpful in shot-blocking, but so are quickness, anticipation, and learning your opponent’s tendencies.
4. When shooting, improved vertical can help you out-jump an opponent who’s face-guarding you, but it’s even better to develop moves and quickness that enable you to get open for shots.
Having said all this, how DO you increase your vertical? Not with ankle or body weights, not with potions, not with expensive shoes. You do it by jumping, jumping, jumping – and with exercises that strengthen the various muscle groups used in jumping. Wind sprints, deep knee bends, leg lifts, jumping jacks, squats with weights, participating in the high jump, long jump, and hurdles – there are many options. Good Luck!
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