All young basketball players grow up dreaming of being able to dunk a basketball. However, very few people end up accomplishing this feat.
While height and genetics have a lot to do with it, a lot of players never end up dunking because of a lack of training.
Lots of folks have heard of specific weight training exercises, but not many basketball players know about plyometric training, which can greatly increase a player’s jumping ability on the court.
Here are some of the most effective plyometric exercises for basketball players.
1. Depth Jumps
Description: To complete this exercise, athletes must jump from a high surface to the ground and then back up to another high surface. For example, you could jump from a weight bench to the floor and then leap up onto a plyometric box.
The goal is to land on the balls of the feet off the initial jump before exploding off the ground quickly onto the second platform. Pay particular attention to the ground contact time. It shouldn’t take longer than half a second for the player to jump from the ground to the second platform.
Some basketball coaches believe that a player should be able to do squats with 1.5 times their body weight before trying depth jumps. That line of thinking makes plenty of sense because the back squat is a great low-intensity way to build lower body strength before moving on to a more taxing exercise.
Importance: To be a dominant basketball player, a person must improve their vertical jump height. This will help them on both the offensive and defensive end of the court.
For example, an offensive player with a high vertical jump can dunk over an opponent or create an easier jump shot for himself. A high vertical jump will also help players block shots while on defense. The depth jump exercise helps build up explosiveness, which in turn increases a player’s vertical jump.
2. Ankle Bounces
Description: Stand with your feet close together and your knees locked. Bounce up and down as fast and as high as you can using only the calves, toes, and ankles.
Importance: To improve their vertical jump performance, basketball players have to build strength and endurance in their calf and soleus muscles. This jump training drill accomplishes that and it’s good cardio exercise as well.
3. Squat Jump
Description: Begin with the feet shoulder-width apart and stand up straight. Next, go into a full-body squat position. Now, swing your arms and try to jump as high as you can while pretending to grab a rebound. Repeat this process for several seconds.
Importance: This plyometric exercise helps build explosiveness by making the player use their calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, and arms to jump as high as possible. This is a great way to train the body to jump higher.
4. Single-Leg Vertical Jump
Description: Stand with your knees slightly flexed and raise one foot off the ground. Next, swing your arms to generate extra momentum and jump as high as you can off of one foot. Do three reps before switching to the other foot.
Importance: Most basketball players prefer to jump off of their dominant foot. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can lead to muscle imbalances. This plyometric drill will help build explosiveness in both legs so that the player can jump just as high off of either foot.
5. Plyometric Push-Up
Description: Get into a normal push-up position with your hands lined up underneath your shoulders. Complete a full push-up but explode off the ground into the air before returning to your original position. If you cannot complete this exercise safely, start with regular push-ups instead.
Importance: A lot of plyometric training programs for basketball players don’t include enough strength training for the upper body. This type of high-intensity push-up is a great way for players to build strength in their chest, shoulders, and arms.
6. Plyometric Bench Press
Description: While lying on a flat bench, grab the barbell with a close grip and complete a bench press rep. At the top of the rep, lightly toss the barbell into the air and switch to a wider grip. Alternate your grip on each rep. Don’t do this exercise without a coach present because it is a little bit risky.
Importance: This drill is a good option for players who can’t quite handle their entire body mass during the plyometric push-up. Since the barbell only weighs 45 pounds, this exercise doesn’t require as much strength. However, it’s still an excellent choice for building upper-body explosiveness.
7. Side to Side Hops
Description: Stand on one side of the foul line or baseline with your feet together. Jump from side to side over the line while minimizing your ground contact time.
Importance: This lateral exercise builds agility and strengthens the ankle for all of the extremely quick cutting movements that basketball requires. It also strengthens the calves.
8. Single Leg Jump Squats
Description: Raise one leg off the floor and keep the knee of your other leg slightly bent. Generate power by swinging your arms, then jump as high as you can on one foot. Repeat for 3 to 5 reps before switching to the other foot.
Importance: This strengthens the knee joint and gradually prepares it for the demands of a basketball season. It also gives the hip flexors a good workout while increasing jumping ability.
9. Alternating Step Up Jumps
Description: Stand with one foot on the floor and one foot on top of a weight bench or plyometric box. Jump as high as you can while switching the positions of your feet in mid-air. Keep your head up and chest high.
Importance: This is another fantastic plyometric exercise for the lower limbs. It helps build explosiveness by making the knees and hips generate lots of force.
10. Frog Jumps
Description: Do a complete squat until your glutes hit the back of your feet. Get into a frog-like pose by putting your hands on the floor. Jump as high and as far as you can before returning to your original frog position.
Importance: This plyometric drill works the entire lower body, but it puts a specific emphasis on the hips. It will have a remarkably positive effect on a player’s explosiveness and jumping ability.