Jumping Misconceptions, Pt. 2
Important keys to jumping higher.
by Hassan May Riggs / @HassanMayRiggs
Miami, Florida – I’m headed to American Airlines Arena to see LeBron, Wade and Bosh – so I’m in a rush. But before I go, here are some quick tips to overcome mistakes and maximize your jumping ability. Keep in mind, these same techniques can be used for one- or two-foot jumpers. They helped me jump over 20 inches higher – and I’ve got proof.
Quick Tip #1: Don’t Lean Forward
Here’s the number one mistake I see when players are approaching the goal for a dunk – they lean forward. I know, it seems like a small mistake, but if you correct this one simple problem, you can add inches to your jumping ability. You don’t want to lean forward because it will cause you to stutter your steps. And as a former college point guard and current vertical jump coach, I see that as a “red flag” because you’re unbalanced.
The good news is that’s an easy adjustment. If you feel yourself leaning forward, simply pull your core up and put your shoulders back. You want to keep your core strong and straight so you’ll have perfect Takeoff Core Control.
Takeoff Core Control means you must have your core above your feet. Not just your abs, but everything including your head, shoulders, abs and legs. They should all be in a straight line while approaching the goal before takeoff. It’s going to seem a little awkward at first, but the more you do it, it’ll become natural.
Most players lean forward when they jump because their core isn’t strong enough to handle the momentum and speed. Pay attention the next time you jump — is your core controlled, strong and straight? Or do you lean (forward/backward/side) which means you are not jumping vertically and you’re losing inches?
Quick Tip #2: Take Quick Steps
Don’t take long, slow steps: You see, right before you take off there shouldn’t be a lot of space between your two feet. That makes you slower, and you won’t jump as high. You need each step to be quicker than the one prior to it. You must use your momentum and speed. You must accelerate with each step to jump higher. And taking long, slow steps works against you.
As a matter of fact, your last two steps should be your quickest. But for most players, it’s their slowest.
So, if you have this problem and you’d like to fix it, here’s what you should do:
1. Begin with a natural stride and take two quick steps right before takeoff. But don’t stutter step.
2. You must find the correct balance between speed and control. More than likely your main challenge will be finding your MCV (Maximum Control Velocity). This means that you can only jump using speed that you can physically control. So if you run too fast and begin to stutter step, you’ll be unbalanced and begin to lean and jump forward rather than vertically. But, on the other hand, if you run too slowly, you’ll bend your knee, drag your feet, drop your hips and lose the speed needed to get maximum gains.
If you’re out of control, there’s only two ways to fix it:
1. Slow down and/or
2. Fix your technique (strong tall core, hips high, quick steps, etc…)
For quick results, just do both. Slow down and focus on improving your technique. Once your technique is “tight” you can speed up and still have a good MCV.
So remember, your last two steps should be your quickest (each step should be quicker than the one prior to it – you shouldn’t decelerate under any circumstances). If your steps are too long, your hips will begin to drop and your knee will bend. And those are two fatal flaws.
Quick Tip #3: Stay Tall, Keep Your Jumping Knee Straight
This is going to sound counter intuitive. You’re probably thinking, bending my knee is natural and if I keep it straight I’ll lose my jumping power.
Although I understand how one comes to that conclusion, it’s bad thinking. You see, if your jumping knee begins to bend, that means your hips are low and you’re not going to get the most out of your jump. So you don’t want to lean forward and you don’t want to bend your jumping knee before takeoff. To get maximum results, you should stay tall by keeping your jumping knee straight and hips high.
It’s a common misconception that you must drop your hips, get low and explode upward to jump high. That’s wrong. Because when you get low (bending your knee) you begin to lose your momentum, speed and you ruin your MCV.
My vertical jump coach gave me this example: If you take a pencil and break it, then tape it back together and drop it on its eraser, it won’t bounce back up at you because it has a natural bend in it. But if you take a normal, straight pencil and do the same thing, it’ll bounce and pop right back up.
And honestly, that makes a lot of practical, real-world sense. So, you want a straight line from your nose to your foot, with no curves or bends in between before takeoff. And if you don’t have that straight line, your vertical will suffer.
Stay tall when approaching the goal and during takeoff. That way you’ll have your hips high, leg straight and a good MCV.
So here’s what you want to do for maximum results:
1. Don’t lean forward. You’ll begin to lose your balance, stutter step and jump forward rather than vertically.
2. Speed up and don’t decelerate at all.
3. Get your last two steps down quickly. Don’t drag your foot. If you do, then you’re dropping your hip. Your last two steps will be slow, and you’ll lose momentum and your MCV will go in the toilet.
4. Don’t bend your jumping knee before takeoff. Ensure you have a straight line from your foot to your nose.
5. Keep your hips high, explode up and don’t drag your foot.
We covered a lot of simple concepts. But they’re really powerful. And if you learn and implement them, you’ll see results quickly. As I mentioned earlier, these simple techniques helped me jump over 20 inches higher – and they can work for you too. I’ve listed a summary of what we’ve discussed below. Make sure you keep these in a safe place for later review. If enough readers request it, I will make a video explaining and demonstrating these concepts.