An exercise to help improve athletic performance

  • Oct. 5, 2017 2:40 p.m.

Whether you are a weekend warrior or an Olympic champion, the basic rule of being an athlete is that you have to work for what you want. The problem with training is that it requires working on more than your sport. If you’re a basketball player for instance, you won’t reach your potential just by playing the game. You have to build the elements.

Players must build their skills. They have to lift weights and work on running, jumping and other elements of their sport. If you want to reach your full potential, the same is true for you, regardless of your sport or your skill level. In sport, working for excellence is never just one thing.

One of the many skills shared by athletes is the vertical jump. This is basically the ability to jump high and land in a balanced fashion, ready to make the next move. Having the skill to make a good vertical jump and land it can also help if you make a misstep or have to get over an obstacle. The best part is how easy it is to train for a more forceful and higher jump. All you need is some chalk, a roll of gift wrap or other paper, and a wall on which to tape the paper.

It’s a good idea to move an area rug to where you intend to train so that you’re not wearing out your joints by jumping on a hard surface. Always use supportive shoes so you protect all those many little bones in your feet, and your knee and hip joints as well.

Start by reaching up as high as possible, and mark that spot with a piece of masking tape or duct tape if you don’t want to leave a stain on the wall where you’ll be working out. The next step will require a ladder. Tape a three foot length from the roll of paper upward from where you made the mark of your highest reach. If you’re training in an unfinished garage or basement, you may not even need the paper. A bare wall will work fine.

The next step is to rub chalk on the fingertips of one hand. Pool cue chalk is perfect for this purpose. It’s quick, it shows up, and it can be washed off of most surfaces.

Next, squat down, and keep your spine straight. Don’t lean forward. Get your mind fixed on accelerating upward. Don’t stay in the flexed position for longer than 30 seconds. Then push off forcefully with your feet as you extend your entire body upward. The acceleration should move from your feet to your calves, thighs, hips and core. As your body is moving up, reach your arms up as well. Feel the force of your jump moving into your upper back. Reach your arms upward and feel the force move into your shoulders. Extend your arms high towards the ceiling to keep the jump accelerating upward. Touch your chalked fingertips to the wall, leaving a mark.

Think of your entire body as moving towards the ceiling during the entire process. If you keep that thought in your mind as you begin jumping, it will help you jump higher. Do at least three jumps, but not more than five. With each one, the mark of your chalked fingertips should be higher.

If possible, leave the paper in place. That way, you’ll be able to see your improvement over time. You will also be able to see that improvement in your sport, and in yourself as an athlete.

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