Correctly prescribed plyometric exercises can help basketball players dominate on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor.
In this post I will show you exactly how you can use basketball specific plyometric training to help make you a more explosive basketball player this season.
Feature Photo Credit: Joint Base Charleston members perform "box jumps", considered public domain (modified from original)
Why All Basketball Players MUST Start Using Plyometrics.. Today!
However we believe that incorporating plyometric exercises into a well prescribed basketball training program lead to dramatic improvements in jump related performance.
If you want to dunk a basketball, become a better shot blocker and grab more rebounds you must start doing plyometric training as soon as possible.
In this article we will take a look at the pro's and cons of plyometrics for basketball players and how you can get the most out of this method of training as fast as possible.
How To Use Box Jumps & Other Plyometrics For Basketball Players
A box jump, as it's name suggests, simply involves jumping up onto a box.
In order to optimize vertical jump enhancement benefits from the box jump it is vital to choose the correct size box.
The box should be high enough to challenge your jumping ability but not so high that the movement relies on co-ordination and hip mobility in order to achieve a completed jump.
Sure two athletes may claim the same box jump height, but one may have "tucked" the knees up in order to complete the jump.
A true box jump should be completed with a landing stance of no greater than 90 degrees of knee flexion.
How To Box Jump: The Basics Of Box Jump Technique
- Stand in an athletic position, with your feet shoulder-width apart, at a comfortable distance from the box.
- When you're ready to jump, drop quickly into a quarter squat, then extend your hips, swing your arms, and push your feet through the floor to propel yourself onto the box.
- Land in a strong stance
The box jump can seem like a very simple exercise however it is important to note that great care must be taken to ensure optimal results and safety.
The box jump can be performed in a range of ways. For example:
- Two foot takeoff
- One foot takeoff
- Standing start
- Running start
- Start from bottom of squat (static)
- Depth jump into box jump
Jacob Hiller does a fantastic job of teaching advanced box jumping in his popular Jump Manual
Box Jump Workout Plan Fundamentals: The MUST DO's!
- Start with low box height and then progress higher when comfortable.
- Always train with max intensity (should not be a cardio workout).
- Keep volume low (for example max 5 sets of 5 reps).
-Land with knees in a neutral position, rather than in valgus or varus (sagging in or out).
-Combine with resistance and training and plyometric exercises for maximal results
- Ensure full hip extension is achieved in every jump.
- Always land with a maximum of 90 degrees of knee flexion, no greater.
- Focus on landing like a ninja (absorb the force through muscles & tendons).
- Use before heavy lifting as a form of neuro-muscular potentiation.
- Ensure feet are flat at landing rather (limit anterior or posterior weight shift).
- Keep core braced to maximize kinetic chain power transfer.
-Pause in the landing position and take note of sound of impact and body position
- Step off the box in a forward direction as to not stress the Achilles tendon which can happen when stepping backwards.
-Perform on padded flooring.
How Not To Do Box Jumps...
Box jumps can derive awesome jump improvements for basketball players, but they must be completed with strict form. Haphazard box jumps are often a recipe for disaster!
Always choose a quality landing platform. If you would like to a selection of the best plyometric boxes that you can online check out our roundup of the best vertical jump training equipment.
How Do Box Jumps & Plyometrics Help Basketball Players Jump Higher?
Any decent vertical jump program should incorporate a range of box jumps and plyometric exercises.
Although the box jump is not technically a plyo movment it is often paired with plyometric exercises.
The box jump is often paired with plyometric exercises such as the depth jump and other forms of shock training. This combination of exercises will optimize the stretch-shortening cycle of the musculo-tendon complex of the lower limbs, and ultimately improve the use of elastic energy.
At the end of the day, using box jumps without the correct prescription of plyometric exercises will result in poor vertical jump results.
Simply jumping up onto a box does not overload the muscles and provide the nuero-muscular stimulus required to increase vertical jump height.
Programs such as the super popular Vert Shock have done an excellent job of incorporating box jumps into the program with highly specified plyometric exercises targeted at maximizing box jump effectiveness.
This shock training method is a major reason why Vert Shock has had such remarkable success outcomes with it's participants. The most interesting thing about Vert Shock is that the shock training prescription is so accurate that results are achieved with body-weight only.
Other popular jump programs such as the all-time best seller The Jump Manual overload the prescribed box jump exercises with resistance, usually in the form of dumbbells or weighted vests.
Vertical jumps with only body weight will get great results for beginners but ultimately vertical jump progress will plateau. If you really want to jump higher you must challenge the power producing properties of the jumping muscles.
What Is A Good Box Jump Height For A Basketball Player?
Some athletes such as the world best dunker Jordan Kilganon have achieved 70+ inch box jumps (running).
Remember, when most people are talking about box jumps they are talking about a strict two foot takeoff with arm swing and landing on a box.
Many people attack their box jump training differently so it is vital that you solely focus on developing your own limitations and be honest with you current abilities.
Don't get carried away trying to complete a 60 inch box jump if it means that you land with your knees around your ears.
Keep your ego in check and have patience. With consistent effort improvements in vertical jump will come.
What Makes A Box Jump A great Exercise For Basketball Players
Box jumps are an excellent exercise choice for basketball players who want to jump higher and learn how to dunk a basketball.
A well prescribed jump program should focus on developing basketball specific jump movements such as single leg takeoffs and hop step jumps.
We love training our box jumps with a medicine ball as this also develops the arm swing component of the jump in a basketball specific manner.
If you are a big man combining heavy back squats with correctly prescribed med ball box jumps can really help improve 2 hand power dunks in the post.
Problems With The The Box Jump Exercise
The box jump is a great exercise but the devil is in the detail of prescription. If you follow a poorly prescribed program you will be simply spinning your wheels.
The main issue with the box jump is that is primarily only develops concentric power.
As I mentioned earlier this is great for post players who power up from a pump fake but basketball is a much more dynamic sport.
Yes, adding resistance bands, medicine balls and dumbbells will do a great job of enhancing the load placed on both the concentric and eccentric components of the jump but we are missing one vital component.
We MUST optimize the amortization phase of the jump and the effectiveness of the stretch shortening cycle.
Another downside to the box jump is the low impact landings. You may be thinking isn't reduced impact a good thing. Well yes, it it is great for those of you with joint issues, but not ideal for those of you who want to significantly improve your vertical jump height.
By applying landing stresses the body adapts and becomes more responsive to jump specific demands.
One key exercise that you can incorporate into your box jump routine to add more landing stress is the depth jump. This combination provides a powerful stimulus to the jumping muscles.
I believe that depth jumps combined with box jumps potentiate the nervous system to fire at a more efficient, faster rate better than any other exercise.
Combining Box Jumps and Depth Jumps For "Shocking" Results On Court
The depth jump is performed when an athlete drops off a box, lands briefly absorbing the shock, and then immediately jumps as high as possible. The major focus should be on decreasing the total duration of the landing period (or amortization phase).
Dr Verkhoshansky originally called this method shock training back in the 1950's. This methodology has been developed over the years. Perhaps, the greatest innovation in shock training is the recent work of Adam Folker in the form of Vert Shock.
Correctly prescribed shock training will make the participant better at absorbing momentum and kinetic energy. This energy can then be efficiently used in the subsequent jump .
3 Reasons Why Basketball Players Should Add Depth Jumps (Shock Training) to their Box Jump Routine:
- Improved central nervous system potentiation
- Improved efficiency of the Myotatic Reflex (stretch reflex and contraction
- Relationship of the musculo-tendon structure)
- Improved Neurogenic Efficiency : (Brain motor neuron connection)
Common Reasons Basketball Coaches Use Box Jumps In Their Training
Basketball coaches love box jumps. They look impressive and are provide quantifiable feedback. They also can provide a competitive component to training which can lead to improved results.
Unfortunately, this can lead to athletes attempting to jump boxes that are higher than they should. Obviously a lean and athletic 6ft 6 athletic point guard and a overweight power forward will likely need separate box jump setups.
The box jump provides coaches with an excellent coaching opportunity. More advanced trainers can incorporate resistance bands and medicine balls that replicate basketball specific movements.
The Dangers Of Box Jumps For Basketball Players
Box jumps can pose a risk of falling, particularly if a poor quality plyo box is used. Always choose a quality plyometric box such as these best sellers on Amazon.
The best quality boxes have a large landing area and are of a sturdy build.This means that they are also very expensive.
There are also metal options which offer excellent durability but are cumbersome to move and best suited to permanent gym settings.
We really like the new range of adjustable plyometric boxes which allow you to raise the height as your box jump improves.
A Great Adjustable Box On Amazon You May Like
Final Thoughts on Box Jumps
Box jumps combined with depth jumps are one of our favorite plyometric exercise combinations. However they do come with significant risk of injury so always follow the advice from an experienced jump trainer.
Never skimp on the quality of the box you are landing on and always train with mental focus and intensity. Take a few breaths between jumps and visualize your explosive takeoff.
Maximize the mind muscle connection throughout every jump.
Remember perfecting box jumps is just one of many steps required to be able to train yourself to dunk a basketball like the pro's.