There’s no doubt Zion Williamson is genetically blessed, standing at 6’7” 284lbs and moves like a guard. But its no secret that Zion’s most remarkable facet to his game is his INSANE vertical.
Never mind getting his head above the rim, Zion can touch the top of the backboard. Duke basketball head coach Mike Kryzewski said that Zion’s vert reached 45 inches, a team record.
But before Zion’s Duke & high school dunking highlights swept social media, he was still a dunker, except he was in middle school and only 5’9”.
Incredible size and strength naturally came later in high school for Zion; however, his hops were always there.
How did he do it?
A 5’9” 8th grader dunking is uncommon, but possible. Like any component of your game, increasing your vert requires work and special attention. Zion Williamson, along with other dunking legends such as Vince Carter, LeBron James, Zach LaVine, & many more have added specific workouts and exercises into their training to make progress and maintain their vertical.
Many tips you’ll see online on how to better your jump are too general and obvious. These techniques, workouts, and even stretches we mention will drastically improve your vertical once you work them into your routine.
Here are 7 secrets to increase your vertical jump like Zion Williamson…
SINGLE-LEG STRENGTH TRAINING
When we jump, we primarily launch off only one foot.
These workouts are important for building the strength to jump high, but also for improving coordination and balance which is essential for being a good dunker.
Two effective single-leg workouts we recommend are Skater Jumps & TRX pistol squats. Beginning weightlifters can start out with 10-15 for each leg.
This exercise is highly acclaimed and very effective for improving your reaction time.
How to do it:
-Stand on a box or step about 6-10 inches from the ground.
-Step off, but as soon as you hit the ground, fly back up, jumping as high as possible with your arms above your head.
-Make sure to land comfortably in a “basketball ready” stance.
Not only will this better your reaction time, depth jumping will also activate your lower body muscles that are necessary to “catch air”.
Start off doing 3×3 reps.
This workout is one of the best on our list for immediate results.
Here’s how to do it:
-Sit back on the balls of your feet or heels with your knees on the ground.
-As you jump, swing your arms to create momentum, push your hips forward, making sure your feet are underneath you (NOT IN FRONT).
-As your coming down, go into a squat position with your arms out.
-Come back to kneeling, one knee at a time.
This exercise will help you gain a TON of lower body power, in just a couple of months if you stay consistent.
STOP & GO SHOOTING
Believe it or not, this is an overlooked workout for increasing your vert.
Stop & go jump shots are great for building strength, but also for longevity in your tendons and ligaments. Dunkers and athletes suffer from tears all the time because they don’t make it a priority to strengthen their ligaments and tendons.
Can’t increase your vert while you’re injured.
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS
Balance and Strength. Bulgarian squats are an athlete’s best friend.
This is how you should do it:
-Move a couple of small steps from the bench and place the top of your non-working foot on it.
-With dumbbells in your hands, keep your chin straight and chest up.
-Slowly come down, letting your back knee come close to the ground.
-Then, using the heel of your planted foot, push yourself back up into standing form.
That’s your Bulgarian squat.
FOAM ROLLER & STRETCHING
You’ll tighten and knot up your legs if you work them out and never stretch properly. This will inhibit your dunking and vertical ability.
Practicing and lifting will take a toll on your body, you need to understand how to recover to continue improving.
After EVERY leg workout, you need to stretch your legs.
Stretches that are among the most effective are:
-Hamstring & Calf Stretch
-Inner Thigh Stretch
When using the foam roller to fix those kinks stretching can’t, you want to focus on these 3 areas, moving the roller back and forth, firm but gentle.
-Calves (roll from ankle to knee)
-IT Band (one foot/leg on the floor, the other on top. Then, move roller along outer thighs)
-Quads (lie on your stomach with roller under the top of your thighs, roll from hip to knee)
This will do wonders for your recovery time.
PRACTICE DUNKING ON A LOWERED BASKET
This is a great technique to get the hang of dunking and perfect your launch and landing form.
When it comes time to dunk in an in-game situation, you’ll need to handle other factors in the game that aren’t simulated during most vertical training exercises. These factors that occur during in-game situations include jumping with a basketball in your hand(s), a defender guarding you, and limit space to launch.
Simulating likely scenarios in which a dunker will face during a basketball game is crucial.
Our biggest recommendation for learning how to dunk, cleanly and confidently in a game, is Vert Shock.
The world’s HIGHEST dunker Justin “Jus Fly” Darlington swears by Vert Shock. Since working these excercises into his routine, he’s won the Nike World Dunk Contest and his vertical is now 50.1 inches…
Even a 5’5” college freshman, Emmitt Wheatley started throwing down dunks in only about 7-8 weeks after using Vert Shock.
For those who are looking to become dunkers; regardless of height, age, or experience click on the banner below to learn more about how dunking is much easier than you thought.
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