Better Vert, Better Baller: How Jumping Higher Instantly Makes You a Better Basketball Player
We all have crazy respect for those few lucky ones who can dunk. Nothing impresses a basketball lover quite like that guy who shimmies onto the court and effortlessly slams it through the net. EVERYONE wants that guy on their team. Why? Because jumping high is one of the top skills you can possess as a baller, and DEFINITELY the most impressive. Let’s dive into the ways that increasing your vertical will impact your game on the court.
Defense wins championships. That’s what every basketball coach will tell you. Blocking shots is the premier defensive ability in basketball. It can literally win you a game. Think back to LeBron blocking Tiago Splitter’s shot to win game 2 of the 2013 NBA finals. Your timing and position need to be accurate. But most importantly, you have to be able to jump high, especially if you are playing taller players. With a high vertical, you will be able to chase players down on a fast break and swat their shot into the stands. If you want to strike fear in other players, blocking shots is the most intimidating thing you can do to them.
Finishing at the Rim
On the offensive side of blocking shots, there’s finishing your shot at the rim. Increasing your vertical won’t just help you block shots, you’ll be able to finish over the other players too! Let’s look at the best finishers in the NBA today: LeBron James, James Harden, Paul George, and Isaiah Thomas. What do they have in common? It’s not their height, it’s their verticals! Isaiah Thomas is only 5’9 but he has a 40’’ vertical and the others have similar verticals as well. Jumping high is a must if you want to finish consistently at the rim!
Shooting the Ball
Believe it or not, your ability to jump has a huge effect on your jump shot. For one, the higher you jump, the harder it is for someone to block your shot, raising your shooting percentage. On top of that, the higher you jump, the better your vision of the rim will be, which will make you shoot more accurately. And, the higher you jump, the closer your release will be to the rim, which generally has a positive impact on your shot. Nearly all of the great shooters jump high on their shots (Steph Curry, Ray Allen, Steve Nash). Larry Bird is an exception, as very few great shooters have set shots.
If you are able to jump high, it’s necessary to be in good shape. They go hand in hand. You can’t jump high if you have excess fat, or if you’re weak. You simply wouldn’t get any lift off the ground. Therefore, if you follow a jumping program, not only will you be jumping high, but you will tone up your body and become better conditioned. And of course, the better conditioned you are, the better your body can handle competitive games of basketball.
When you think about jumping, you think of leg movements: bent knees and then explosion. However, the movement of your upper body is critical to your jump gains. Your lower body and upper body have to be trained to move in sync with each other (this is what good jump programs teach you how to do). Therefore, anyone who properly trains their jump will vastly improve their coordination. Have you ever seen someone who jumps really high but has a difficult time dunking? They probably look stiff. That’s the tell-tale sign of someone who trained their vertical improperly. If you properly train, your coordination will improve and you’ll be able to move around the court and catch the ball easier, especially while in the air.
There is nothing that gives you more confidence than knowing you are physically better prepared than your competition. Likewise, nothing creates more fear than feeling intimidated by the physical prowess of your opponent. Jumping is the premier athletic ability in basketball. Some athletes even rely on their vertical to make it to the pros. Look at what happened to Derrick Rose. After he tore his ACL, his vertical decreased and he went from MVP to one of the worst starting point guards in the league. League commentators spoke of how his confidence looked low and how he would look timid when finishing at the rim. Knowing that you can soar above the competition is the single greatest confidence booster in basketball, hands down.