Playing basketball, football, rugby and many other sports require the kind of explosiveness and power required to take off fast or project the body into the air.
In Basketball especially, vertical height is considered to be an indispensable asset. Height gives any player an advantage, almost regardless of the position they play.
Getting closer to the net for both shots, defense, and rebounding are a part of the basic skills for all player positions.
Training to enhance that vertical is an essential part of a well rounded training program. Training should be sports specific, meaning that it replicates as much as possible game situations.
Whatever you may be training for should be considered during vertical height training.
Before beginning any physical program a proper warm up is important. In jump training, a warm up is equally if not more important.
The explosive movement of a jump requires a number of large muscle groups to be alert, responsive and flexible.
While the whole body can get a general, overall warm up with a light jog, each body part should have its own special warm up with unique movements and considerations.
Ankles And Lower Leg
Often overlooked by many, the ankles are essential to all full-body movements. These are what attach you to the ground, and are the basis of all propelling, movements.
These ligaments are generally where injuries occur. Rolling or spraining the ankle results in a stretching or tearing of the ligaments (typically on the outside) of the ankle joint.
The calves make up the posterior section of the lower leg. There two main muscles in the calf which are hard a work during a jump.
These muscles are responsible for pushing the feet and toes against the ground and launching the body into the air.
Warming up this section should start with ankle rolls and twists; turn each ankle in circles -about 10 times each- in both directions, opening up full range of motion.
Next do it with the toes pointed on the floor, adding a little pressure. This way, the muscles and ligaments associated can prepare better for stretches and rolls that might occur.
You can also try standing up straining and jumping up lightly using just the feet and calves to push off the ground.
The hip flexors are the muscles which join the front section of the pelvis to the legs. They are contracting when lifting the knee up. These muscles are small and often prone to injury if not well warmed before use.
The hip flexors can be warmed up by massage. Since they are so small, the muscles of the hip flexors can be warmed by:
➟ Lying face-down on a foam roller placed at the hip
➟ Rolling the muscles out length-wise
➟ Use the hands on the floor to pull and push the whole weight of the body forward and backward
This helps to increase blood flow to the area, heating the muscles up and preparing them for sudden stretching and other movements.
These sets of muscles on humans allow us to walk upright with ease. This big muscle group is made up of 3 main muscles which work together to pull the upper leg downwards and backwards.
This motion is called hip extension, which is the exact moment in a jump after the dip, on the way up. The muscles of the glutes are used in many other movements at the hip joint, but for jumping, this is the most obvious.
The glutes work simultaneously with the hamstrings and quadriceps to ensure the body is propelled in a vertical upright line instead of forwards or back.
The entire structure of the hip can be warmed by doing leg swings.
- Stand arms-length away from a wall
- Put your hands on the wall
- Place one foot a step behind the other
- Lift opposite leg and start swinging it left to right
- Do several repetitions
- Switch legs
This should loosen and warm the muscles surrounding the hip joint, including the glutes.
Muscles Of The Thighs
These are the big muscles propelling the majority of the movement in a jump.
The quadriceps are made up of 4 muscles attached along the front half of the thigh to various locations on the lower leg. They are responsible for extension at the knee joint.
The hamstrings are the opposing muscles, and are responsible for bending at the knee, and also extending the hip backwards.
These two big muscles make up the largest muscles sections on the body, and are often the strongest. Since they are used in various ranges throughout a normal day, they are often in need of the least warming.
They are not as susceptible to injury as the smaller and finer muscle groups. However, the knee joint is weak in some positions, and in particular, laterally, or sideways.
Attaching the bone of the upper and lower legs are ligaments, which hold it in particular balance. This is where a lot of injuries associated with jumping occur.
The landing of a jump must maintain that perfect balance of the knee, and thus, landing in the same position as take- off is optimal.
Keeping this in mind, warming up the knee joint and preparing the nervous system for any miscalculations requires a few light test runs.
Warming up for any kind of jump training should include several different kinds of light hops and jumps. Hoping from one food to the other is a good start, then using both feet, gradually getting higher.
Find out more about all training components with the The Jump Manual, and remember that a well warmed system is like a well-oiled engine!