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Vertical Jump: Improve More than Just Your Dunking Ability

Basketball Vertical

Of course when you're talking basketball and someone's vertical, you're probably thinking about dunking. Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Spud Webb, Nate Robinson, and so many more NBA players have or had great verticals. So yes, one of the best benefits to a better vertical is being able to dunk...or dunk better. There are a ton of other benefits to a better vertical, to, though. Before I go into how to improve your vertical, here's a few other benefits...

  • Dunking Ability
  • Better Defense
    • Able to get more blocks or at least alter opponents' shots; also able to intercept long passes
  • Better Rebounding
    • Able to outjump your opponent for that golden rebound
  • Better Looks at Shots/More Shots Off
    • Harder for an opponent to block your shot or alter it if you outjump them
  • Higher Confidence - So Better Overall Game!
    • You'll be more confident in your ability to score, defend, rebound, and do whatever else, so you'll perform better overall.

An increased vertical leap isn't just beneficial for basketball players, though, any athlete can benefit from a better vertical. Football players on both sides can use a better vertical: wide receivers can outjump a defender to get a reception; defensive backs can outjump the receiver or jump higher than a QB expected to get an interception or tip the pass; lineman can jump up to tip a pass; baseball players can get more pop flies; and on and on...any athlete will benefit from a better vertical.

So, now that you know some additional benefits of increasing your vertical, here's how you can increase your vertical jump to dunk better, play better defense, and outrebound your opponents.

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  • Practice Dunking on a Lower Rim
    • Use a Weighted Belt to Increase Effectiveness
  • Vertical Programs
  • Plyometrics
  • Vertical Training Shoes
  • Weight Training
  • LEGAL Training Supplements
  • Any Combination of the Above

Practice Dunking on a Lower Rim

One of the best vertical training exercises is simply to find a rim that you can dunk on, but have to put some effort into dunking. Your body weight is a useful training tool (think about lunges, plyometrics, squats, pushups, etc.), and using your own body weight to improve your vertical jump can be very helpful. You will be exercising all of the muscles you use to jump in basketball, and, best of all, it's extremely fun! Because you're having fun, it doesn't even seem like work.

There are a couple of things that can make this form of vertical training even more effective. First, you can play against your friends 1-1, Tip-21, 3-3, whatever. It will get you used to also having to adjust in the air if you're trying to dunk on someone instead of on an open basket. Don't get me wrong, though, also make sure to practice dunking without anyone in the way, as it helps get down your approach and will improve your vertical. Second, you can use a weighted belt. It adds to the difficulty of just having your body weight, but doesn't get in the way.

Some benefits of a weight belt as opposed to ankle weights or weighted vests: The weight is around your waist, your center of gravity, so very safe. You can wear it more comfortably for longer periods of time because there's no excessive sweating from having it around your chest, which also makes it more comfortable for female athletes. Finally, it can be much more affordable than weight vests. And last, besides helping with your vertical, weighted belts can also help immprove your speed and agility, leg strength, and overall strength and athletecism.

Adjustable Hoops from

Hypergravity Belt: $100-$150
You can get a Hypergravity Weight Belt HERE. Also get great deals on portable and in-ground adjustable rims that you can lower to practice dunking on (including free or discounted shipping) at I recommend an in-ground system if you are able to use one because it will be safer to dunk on with less of a chance of it tipping over than a portable one.

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Vertical Programs

There are a ton of vertical programs out there, and every one of them will help you improve your vertical. There is one common denominator between all of these programs: YOU! No matter what vertical program you go with, how effective it is depends on the effort that YOU put into it. Good programs will have a mix of jumping exercises/plyometrics and weight training. Whatever you decide to go with, train at a high intensity and stick to the program!

As with the dunking exercise, one way that that can help any program to increase your vertical would be to add the Hypergravity Weight Belt to your program. You can also add training shoes like JumpSoles to any program to improve the effectiveness. Get either or both HERE. They do come with vertical training programs as well, so it's kind of a 2 for 1 deal.


Plyometrics are actually a form of vertical training program, but any good one should include plyometrics, so I wanted to have a small section about it here. Plyometrics are essentially jumping exercises, that can be done with or without a box. Different types of ploymetric exercises include box jumps, depth jumps, and stationary jumps. What they all have in common is that they are dynamic exercies done at high intensity and they often involve multiple jumps with as little time from one to the next as possible. Make sure that whatever program you use to increase your vertical includes plyometric training. And, of course, improve your plyometrics training with a Hypergravity Weight Belt, JumpSoles, or both.

Vertical Training Shoes

Vertical training shoes can benefit any program, whether it's for vertical, speed, or whatever, they can help increase the size and speed of the benefits of the program. Essentially these training shoes help develp your lower leg muscles and fast-twitch "explosive" muscle tissues. Some can even help strengthen your ankles and prevent injures.

I used JumpSoles when I was younger, and loved them! One of the best parts is that if you're still groing, they are adjustable and can grow with you. They unfortunately didn't have the proprioceptors when I was younger, which also help to strengthen your ankles and prevent injuries. I wish they did, though. I was able to dunk fairly easily (at 6' nothing), but lost a lot of explosiveness after I tore a ligament in my ankle. Just because of my experience with ankle injuries, I highly recommend the JumpSoles for training shoes due to the added ankle strengthening benefit of the proprioceptors. They also come with a complete training system that you can use with them to improve your vertical, speed, and agility. Get them HERE.

Weight Training

As I said before, any good vertical program should also include a weight training aspect. Strong legs help you jump higher, run faster, and not be pushed around. Remember Mugsy Bogues, the 5'3" point guard for the (then) Charlotte Hornets? He had some HUGE legs, which helped him to be extremely quick and powerful. Here are a few great weight lifting exercises for your legs to improve your vertical:

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  • Squats (glutes, thighs, hamstrings)
    • Explosive Box Squats (glutes, thighs, hamstrings)
  • Lunges (gluts, thighs, hamstrings)
  • Toe Raises (calves)
  • Straight Leg Deadlifts (hamstrings, back)

Legal Sports Supplements

Athlete Nutrition can be a very important aspect to improving any of your athletic abilities, including increasing your vertical. Since many vertical programs are very rigorous and hard on your body, it is highly recommended that you use some Sports Supplements to help both you train harder, and help your body recover.

Vertical Jump Training Conclusion

I know it didn't go into a great deal of detail here, but hopefully this page helps you to understand the different methods available to improve your vertical leap. The most effective form of training is going to be a combination of all the above. No matter what you do, though, just make sure to train at a high intensity and stick with it. Also note that because it is so hard on your body, the best time to do your vertical training should be in the offseason when you're not playing competitive basketball as often.

Dunk Better: Combine Your New Vertical with These Tips to Throw Down Some Better Slams

Improve Your Vertical Training with Athlete Nutrition

Sports Supplements
Take your vertical training to the next level with sports supplements to make your training more effective.

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