If you’ve been training to improve your vertical jump and are certain you’ve taken the right steps, you’ve most likely seen some improvements.
But unless you’re getting a really well rounded training program, you may be missing a few components which can take you the distance.
Improving mobility is closely related to flexibility training, but there is a distinction between the two. We’ll run you through a few of the most effective mobility drills you can do to improve your vertical.
What Does Mobility Refer To?
There are several styles of training when it comes to improving mobility.
These are movements which will allow target muscles and joints to engage fully and completely in whatever task you are working towards. Some styles are more like yoga, and have incorporated yoga poses, while others use plyometric style movements.
More specifically, improving mobility is to improve the stretch, relaxation, tone, strength, recruitment and flexibility of a particular joint/muscle group.
In Warm Ups
Mobility drills are often used in warmups.
For example, warming up for soccer or volleyball, players will do a hip swing. These swings loosen and warm up the whole hip join, preparing it for lateral, and forward and backward movements.
Using this type of a ballistic stretch improves the mobility and thus the preparedness of the hips, increasing blood flow, warming it, preparing the muscles for a game, and improving the elasticity of the muscles as well.
As a result, the joint will be far less likely to be injured, and the player will have better mobility right from the start of the game or practice.
Static stretches to improve mobility are never done before a workout or game.
These drills also look a lot more like basic flexibility drills but actually emphasize a different parameter. With lots of muscular training for power and strength the associated muscles can often become tight, rigid, and start compensating for weak areas or joints.
Similarly, if one particular training aspect is trained more frequently (running, for example) certain joints will become more rigid or stiff as a result. In the case of running, the hip flexors and lower back become tight, making them slow to react to stretch.
It is in these situations where mobility training becomes a necessity. We all have imbalances, and some take lots of training to show themselves.
This is a great one for a warm up, and you don’t need any weight or equipment.
- Start with both legs set evenly apart and flat on the ground
- Drop your body all the way down till you’re fully squatting
- Keep your heels on the ground throughout the movement
- Raise yourself up until your knees are almost straight
- Repeat 10 to 15 times during warm up, in quick succession of each-other (a quick bounce up and down)
Leg swings can be performed in all directions. Start with a front to back swing, which will warm and stretch the hip flexors as well as the upper part of the hamstrings.
- Stand with your side facing a wall
- Place your hand on the wall side up on the wall for balance
- Swing the opposite leg front to back, starting with a low, comfortable height
- Increase the force and height of the foot in both directions as you feel comfortable.
- Switch sides and match the number of repetitions and height with the first leg
- Perform 12 to 20 repetitions
- Face a wall at arms length away, place one arm on wall for balance
- Swing same side leg from left to right along the length of the wall
- When crossing the opposite leg, cross in front
- Start with a low and comfortable swing, increase when you feel ready
- Switch sides, performing the same number of reps, etc
- Perform 12 to 20 repetitions
Very important for the lower back, this is the oldie but goodie of mobility drills which has a great track record of improving performance and reducing back pain. You’ve seen it before:
- Stand with feet wider than shoulder width, arms loosely at sides
- Drop your trunk to the side, then slowly rotate forwards, and eventually to the opposite side
- DO NOT extend full circles backwards
- Returning to center after each cycle
- Performing the movement slowly will inhibit compensation techniques
Don’t over look your feet! This is where your jump will be generated and tension and stiffness in the feet is usually ignored and goes unnoticed. These are easy and can be done anywhere
- Sit so your feet are not weight bearing
- Roll the ankle in circles- both directions 8 to 10 times
- Open up the toes and push them back by pushing against the floor, hold the position for several seconds
- In the opposite direction, rotate foot so the top of the toes are flat on the ground. Stretch the foot back and hold this position
- For several seconds
These exercises will reduce the tension in the feet and ankles as well as all the associated ligaments and tendons.
Understanding more about improving mobility and using mobility drills can be found in a resource like the The Jump Manual.
This offers a whole host of techniques in training to improve your vertical jump. These techniques can also be used to improve performance in a number of other similar sports.