How to Improve Your Vertical Leap

The vertical leap is tested at the NFL Combine. (AP Photo)

Explosiveness, as it pertains to a sport like football, is a combination of strength, power, conditioning, flexibility, and skill proficiency. These traits are vital to the success of an athlete at every level and are characteristics that can be improved through proper training. A standard measurement for explosiveness is the vertical jump test (used at every major football combine, including the NFL). If you really want to reach your potential and maximize your vertical jump, it is important you participate in a truly comprehensive training program.

After 10 years of experience as a professional strength & conditioning coach, I have developed a vertical jump training program called the M.V.P. (Maximum Vertical Potential). The key to the M.V.P. Program is training the "Core 4." There are four key areas you must train if you want to jump as high as you possibly can--flexibility, strength, power, and core. If you aren't effectively training the "Core 4," you simply won't be able to reach your true vertical potential.

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The goal of this article is to share these training concepts and help you improve your vertical jump. The principles behind the M.V.P. can be used by athletes of all ages and levels, from junior high to the NFL.

How Do You Improve Your Vertical Jump?

Explosiveness is an important ingredient in the game of football. After all, with all else equal, the athlete who can run faster, jump higher, and hit harder has a tremendous advantage on the gridiron. Vast improvements can be made to an athlete's explosiveness and vertical jump by implementing a structured, progressive, and safe training program that focuses on the "Core 4" mentioned above: flexibility, strength, power, and core. By improving each of these four areas, you will greatly improve your vertical jump:


Flexibility is defined as the range of motion in a joint or series of joints. It is important to increase the flexibility of your Achilles, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors. This will aid in increasing your vertical jump. By improving the range of motion you can take your ankle and hip joints through, you can increase your potential to produce power. The more power you can produce, the higher you can jump.

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The days of sitting on the ground and static stretching are over. You need to perform dynamic flexibility movements and exercises. In addition to improving flexibility, dynamic flexibility exercises assist in developing coordination and motor ability---both of which are attributes to help improve your overall explosiveness.


When you increase the strength in your legs and hips, you will automatically improve your ability to produce force, which results in increased explosiveness. The more force you can exert against the ground---the higher your ability to jump.

It is extremely important for a strength training program to be safe; nobody can jump higher when they are injured. To reduce orthopedic stress while strength training, you should work within an appropriate repetition range. For most football players, sets with 6-15 reps are usually appropriate. You should avoid maxing out (seeing how much you can lift for one repetition) as that can be extremely dangerous.

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You should aim to make every strength training workout brief, yet very intense, just like each play in a football game. A strength program should focus on training the entire body equally to ensure muscle balance, as well as having each exercise taken to the point of momentary muscular fatigue (the point at which no further reps can be achieved). Training at a high level of intensity will produce maximum results in the shortest time possible. All of this can be accomplished in two or three well-planned full body workouts per week, each lasting about an hour.

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