You sprint up court on a fast-break, having jumped the defense off a rebound, and quickly eye the ball hurtling towards you.
The pass has been perfectly placed and you now fix your gaze on that cylindrical shape hovering 10 feet above you. No one is close. You have built up to nearly top speed and have made a decision.
Today is the day I yam that sucker down!
You feel the texture of the ball around your hand as you begin your set-up, grabbing the ball and cradling it in preparation for flight. You stomp your right foot into the ground, beginning to control the energy you are about to unleash, then thrust your left foot into the ground propelling you into the air.
You feel weightless as time slows down to a crawl and you can feel the sensation of energy flowing through your body. Invincible. Determined.
You reach back with the ball in your hand, full extension of your body, and drive the ball to the basket. Contact
No dunk. No Glory. No Lebron James power stare, glaring at your friends as if they have been put on notice to avoid being dunked on.
What happened? Why weren’t you able to get up and put the ball down? You have a pretty good vert already, and can grab rim at will, so what gives?
Well, it could be a few things
You’re weak as hell
Force = Mass X Acceleration
Simple equation that people frequently site when trying to show how powerful someone is. There is a problem with this equation when applying it to people. Often times, the person doesn’t have a high enough base of strength to express maximum amounts of power.
For example, say that you were only able to squat 135 lbs on top of your current body (180 lbs). If this is your maximum then it is the top baseline for your power to be expressed from. So if 135 lbs (+75% body weight ) gets you +3 inches on your jump, and you are a springy person naturally, maybe your vert is 26″
Let’s now improve your strength to say a 315 lb squat (175% body weight), we now have a higher base to express force against. You can now accelerate your unloaded body that much faster. This could help add nearly 5 inches to your vertical without really doing much else. Now we have a 31″ vertical and we didn’t really “train” to get that increase, we just got stronger, a lost art these days.
So be honest with yourself. If you are under strength and you want more vertical, start there and add the plyometrics and advanced power training later.
You are strong as a bull, but slow as an ox
The other side of the spectrum are athletes and every day guys who are born with the potential for other worldly strength. They can bench a car, deadlift a house, and occasionally spend a bit too much time trying to be a “vascular man”
These types of people need to dedicate time to working fast. That doesn’t mean that your work has to be 20 minutes long in order to jump high, it means that the speed of the bar, or rate of force development, is high.
How do we do this?
First we need to learn how to rapidly absorb contact in order to later learn how to utilize and release the power stored quickly.
Once you have worked from 12″ to 18″ to 24″ boxes and can rapidly stick and land, we then can begin to utilize this stretch absorption and begin to express the power attained from it
The depth jump allows us to rapidly load our muscles and then instantly explode away to utilize this attained power.
Why does this work? Well some people are more naturally efficient at generating power, their bodies can quickly gather and use power in a directed fashion. The highest level athletes in the world do this easily, for others it needs to be trained.
Another way that strong people can begin to move quickly is by spending time accelerating the bar during training. When lifting, pressing or pulling the bar with the intent of being fast goes a long way towards your body developing this high tension high power relationship for the betterment of all mankind.
Sometimes you just need to jump
How often are you jumping? When is the last time you truly just jumped? Often times people are trying to acquire and have a skill that isn’t naturally maintained. Think about when you haven’t played Call of Duty in a few months, are you as quick and nimble and able to play as fast as you used to?
Of course not, your senses and adaptations to the stimulus have reversed course a bit.
In general, the term, “if you don’t use it, you lose it” makes sense. If you aren’t jumping and being athletic often, what are the chances of you staying athletic?
The sad hard truth
Most of you will never dunk a basketball.
In order to dunk, you need to get your hand 5″ above the rim at minimum in order to stuff it home.
So if we take a 5’10″ man (70″) and an average arm length of 33″, minus 12 inches for everything above your shoulders (+21″) we have a standing reach of 91″.
If we train you to achieve a vertical jump of 30″, not elite athlete status, but a respectable everyday vert, we have a total of 121″, otherwise known as 10 feet, 1 inch.
Sadly, that is still 4″ shy of dunkability
Even if we add in your run up and ability to take flight and improve that by 3″ (10% increase) we are only just getting into the ball park
Is it impossible? Heck no, but it is a challenge to you.
I bet you can’t
Now go prove me wrong