Basketball on the Edge – 5 Exercises That Can Help Youth Athletes Jump Higher by A.J Kenrick from

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5 Exercises That Can Help Youth Athletes Jump Higher

Many young athletes dream of the day when they will be able elevate above the competition and throw down a massive dunk like their favourite NBA stars.

To achieve the amazing feat of throwing down a crowd pleasing dunk these athletes must be one of 2 types of people:

  1. A “Genetic Freak” (e.g. Jordan Kilganon “The World’s Best Dunker”)
  2. Determined and willing to put in the physical work to become a more explosive athlete.

Since most people out there are not genetic freaks I’ll assume that the majority of young athletes are going to have to put in significant amount of effort and time to learn how to jump higher.

There are no shortcuts to a higher vertical jump.
In order to obtain the elusive 30+ inch vertical jump an athlete will have to train hard and train consistently.
The results derived from jump training are simply a direct result of the effort put in.

The Makeup Of An Effective Jump Program

An effective jump training program must correctly program jump training variables such as specificity and progressive overload while incorporating adequate rest intervals to avoid overtraining.
These variables must be prescribed on a continuum which first develops stability and strength.
Eventually the program should evolve into further development of reactiveness and explosive power.

Many of the leading jump programs implement these complex variables very effectively and get excellent results (approx. 6-12 inch vert gain/3 months in adult subjects) by adding concurrent resistance and plyometric training.

At the end of the day, In order to maximize jump height athletes must eventually train with heavy weights and perform plyometric exercises.  Strength training is truly the gateway to a very impressive vertical jump.  However, strength training is obviously not recommended for athletes under 15 years old as their joints and bones may be more easily damaged through intense resistance training.  Nonetheless, athletes under 15 years old can begin to incorporate a range of safe and effective jump specific exercises that will prepare their body for the more intense vertical jump training to come in their late teens.

Simple and Effective Exercises to Build Explosive Power in Junior Athletes

With just a few simple exercises young athletes can build a base of jump specific stability, strength and motor patterning that will greatly assist them into the transition of complex jump training in the future.

The following 5 simple basketball and jump specific exercises can be easily incorporated into the training sessions of young athletes to help build a stable base from which further post puberty results can be derived.

With consistent effort these exercises will also be likely to lead to an improvement of at least a few inches of improved jump height over the next few months.

1) Bodyweight Lunge

The bodyweight lunge is an excellent exercise for identifying and correcting weaknesses in hip stability and strength. It is vital to use correct form whenever undertaking this exercise. Focus on quality and not quantity when working with younger athletes. If an athlete consistently participates in this exercise they will develop bi-lateral leg strength and stability that can carry over to a higher vertical jump height.

The lunge also stretches the hip flexor muscles (on the back leg) which improves range of motion and hip extension. Studies have shown that larger ROM on hip extension can to lead to an improved jump height.

2) Bodyweight Squat

The bodyweight squat is one of the best jump specific exercises for developing lower limb strength and power. Consistent squatting can also develop synergistic muscle coordination that can carry over to the two foot jump. As the athlete gets older more load can be added, but for young athletes body weight is sufficient.

3) Box Jumps

Bow jumps can be performed with a relatively low risk of injury to junior athletes. Focus on low repetitions and long rest breaks to optimise power development ( e.g. 5 jumps x 5 sets with 1 min rest between sets). Do not turn a box jumping session into a cardio workout. Every jump should be of maximal effort.

4) Jump Rope/Skipping

Jump rope can help improve ankle strength and stability plus also build the reactive properties within the tendons of young athletes. When adding jump rope to an athletes training regime be aware of the potential for overtraining.

5) Heavy Ball Toss For Height

The heavy ball toss exercise can be a fun way for juniors to develop power and explosiveness. Once again the focus should be on maximal effort and not volume. This exercise has great carry over to basketball specific tasks such as rebounding and blocking shots.

There are many other factors that must be accounted for when trying to improve vertical jump height such as body composition, strength and power potentiation.

However, it is important not to overcomplicate the process when dealing with younger athletes. Simply adding these exercises to a young athletes training regime will help build the foundation for future jump training while also encouraging short term vert gains and general athletic development.

If you are interested in learning more about vertical jump training I suggest you check out the Ultimate Guide to Jumping Higher at

By A.J Kenrick (

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