GAINS! FINALLY! Today I Recorded a 33 Inch Vertical Jump

It may even be 34 inches. That white piece of plastic I’m trying to touch has a 1 inch piece of packing tape attached to the bottom, and if I can touch that tape I’m jumping 33 inches. The video replay of my best jump of the session looked like I smacked the plastic, but I won’t know for sure until I remove the tape and hit the plastic on its own. Then I’ll just keep removing a half inch at a time as my vertical improves.

I’m trying to achieve some level of balance with my reward system in order to encourage maximum jump efforts without discouraging myself with a target I simply never hit. I feel as though I’m more likely to have it in my head that I’ll be able to hit the plastic if it’s only 1/2 an inch higher than last time versus an entire inch. And the point of all this is to execute a high volume of maximum effort jumps. Having the target low enough to hit every time would feel great, but it wouldn’t lead to improvements in my jumping ability as quickly because I’m jumping as high as I already can, instead of jumping higher than I ever have before.

I look forward to the day when my vertical is in the high 30s and I’m touching 33 inches easily. But for now, touching 33 inches takes everything I’ve got. But the fact that it’s now possible for me just makes me want to train harder.

My next goal is to hang with 2 hands on a 10 foot rim.

I have a $100 bill clipped to the board beside these goals so I can see what I lose in September if I don’t accomplish them. I’m only looking at one goal at a time, one that’s just out of reach (literally). I’m doing it this way because the other forms of tracking were giving me a false sense of progress.

For example, I was tracking morning workouts. I was waking up at 5am and going outside and training. The problem is this doesn’t give me any indication of the quality of the workout. There’s no easy way to measure how much intensity I was bringing to the workouts. And what I need is maximum intensity for my vertical jump to improve.

So now I’m just tracking one goal at a time: something I can’t currently do, but that I can almost do. Then when I get it, I increment it up just a bit. Each goal has a deadline. I don’t know what I’m going to do if and when I miss the deadline. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Next Stop, A 33 Inch Vertical Jump

In pushing for a higher vertical jump I’ve found myself looking for a “silver bullet” to make progress quicker. To nobody’s surprise, I haven’t found anything yet which has had a sudden, magical impact on my jumping ability. Instead I’ve learned a valuable lesson which is probably super obvious to everyone who isn’t me.

Maximum Effort, High Volume

David Zanchetta is someone you should care about if you want to know about jumping. Until recently, he held the record for McMaster University’s Men’s Volleyball team for max vertical jump, at 39 inches!

His advice to me is this:

I think my vert came mostly from jumping all the time! I played a shit ton of volleyball in high school. The biggest single thing for increasing your vertical is playing beach volleyball on a high net. It really forces you to get high up in the air just to be able to hit. One thing I know that can get you a little bit more is getting really hyped. The combination of adrenaline and a higher heart rate can really give you a boost. It needs to work for you, so maybe try and think of a way to get yourself hyped seconds before you jump. You might find that having some people watching can do it for you. Or listening to “Killing In The Name Of.” Something to get you amped!

So what I take from this is that you push your vertical into the high 30’s from jumping alone. Deep down, I’ve always thought raw strength had far more to do with it than it potentially does. I’ve thought that lifting (power cleans, deadlifts, squats) would be a faster route to increases in my vertical jump, but more and more I’m drifting toward the belief that the most important thing to do is to JUMP AS HARD AS I CAN AS OFTEN AS I CAN.

This seems so obvious that it’s almost difficult for me to believe. It seems like there should be a lot more to it. But the more I reach out to these ridiculously high jumpers, the more I hear that many of them didn’t even start lifting heavy weights until they were looking to make progress on their vertical jump at an advanced level (closer to 40 inches).

For someone who is already capable of jumping almost 40 inches and has been doing so for a decade, it makes sense that the best way to continue to see increases is to become stronger. And that means lifting heavy.

I’m not going to throw lifting out the window. I’m still going to lift a couple times a week. I’m just going to shift my focus and prioritize jumping, and removing any resistance preventing me from getting out there and doing it.

For example, I was all in my head about how I should be practicing on a 10 foot rim. But I’ve only managed to get to the court that has a 10 foot rim once in the past month! What’s wrong with just having a jump target in my driveway? Nothing. So that’s what I’ve set up. I’ve placed a target 33 inches above my reach, and every jump is now at full power because it’s just outside of my current ability and fuck do I want to hit that thing. When I touch it, I’ll know my max vertical has finally crept up to 33 inches.

And I’m hoping this will happen soon! Since April my standing vertical has gone up 1.75 inches. So I’m getting stronger. Those miserable god damned  workouts are doing something even if just barely. My max vertical gains have stuck at 1 inch and haven’t budged in over a month.

With higher volume at max effort, I think I’ll be able to touch 124.25 inches for a 33 inch max vertical by the end of July.

To put everything into perspective, I need to get my hand about 6 inches over a 10 foot rim to dunk. I will accomplish my goal once my vertical reaches 34.75 inches. My current vertical has been stuck at 31.75 inches since June. So I have 3 solid inches to go. The $100 bet comes to fruition in September when volleyball resumes. Hopefully those gains Seabiscuit my body at the very last minute so I can win that bet!

Or at least not look like I’ve been sitting on my ass all summer.