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Plyometric Training for Basketball: Purpose & Common Mistakes

What is Plyometric Training?

    In short, plyometric training is jump training. The goal of plyometric training is to improve your explosiveness to be able to finish, grab a rebound, or gain a step over your competition! This is accomplished by exerting as much force in as little time as possible. An aspect of basketball every athlete is fascinated about! As a result, it is something we love programming for our athletes and helping other coaches program. If this is something you’re interested in, keep scrolling through.

Why is Plyometric Training Important for Me?

1. Improve Explosiveness, Jump Height & Athleticism

     As you can imagine, basketball and most sports are inherently explosive in nature. From dunking on your opponent, sprinting down the floor, or playing lockdown defense, explosiveness is everywhere in basketball! As a result, to become more explosive and athletic, you need to be training aspects of your mind and body. 

     Research has demonstrated that plyometric training has transferred over well to sport by improving one’s jump height, sprint time, and change of direction. This is accomplished by improving your rate of force development, decreasing ground contact time, and optimizing the stretch-shortening cycle. More simply, plyometric training improves your body’s ability to produce force more quickly and efficiently.


2. Improve Your Skill of Jumping

     Like dribbling, shooting, and passing, jumping is a skill. Moreover, improving your skill of jumping with enhance your jump and overall performance. One of the first priorities of a jump is to achieve full triple extension. Triple extension is achieving a position, in which your ankles, knees, and hips are in one straight line. For example, think about sprinting or jumping to touch the rim, your legs are completely straight when you leave the ground.

     Furthermore, there are many different types of jumps you perform in basketball. For example, you may be taking off two-feet or one-foot, jumping for height or distance, or doing a Euro-Step. Developing proper mechanics for each of these jumps are essential to unlocking your full potential. Consequently, depending on what your program is intended for, it’s going to take a lot of skill to get the full benefit of each exercise and improve your jump performance.

Common Mistakes & Misconceptions

     Unfortunately, plyometric training is often performed incorrectly to where training is ineffective, causes overtraining, or potentially injury. Provided are some common statements we hear from athletes and coaches before working with us:

“Plyometric training is exhausting”
“If I’m not tired doing plyometric training, I’m not improving”

     A common mistake is too much volume, in which your training goal actually becomes conditioning instead of speed or power. The volume of plyometric exercises should be based on the intensity of the exercise prescribed. For example, jumping rope is a low intensity plyometrics and can be done in higher volumes (more reps X sets). The volume of moderate and high intensity plyometrics, such as box jumps, depth jumps, and hurdle jumps, should be carefully prescribed to avoid too much unnecessary stress on the joints, tendons, and ligaments. 

     A good place to start is to measure your volume is ground contacts, or how many times you land. Elite athletes are not recommended to exceed 120 ground contacts of high intensity plyometrics per week. The exact volume of ground contacts depends on your training age, training history, injury history and current training program. If the volume and frequency of your plyometric training is well thought out, optimal performance gains can be achieved.

“I can do a 48 inch box jump, but I can’t dunk!”
“I can do a higher box jump than (insert name); why does (insert name) have a higher vertical jump height than me”

     Another very common mistake we see is people performing box jumps to too high of a box. The issue is not with box jumps, but rather when the box is too high. High box jumps reward you if you have great hip mobility, and not necessarily your ability to produce a large amount of force into the ground and get triple extension. If you break down a box jump to too high of a box, you may be good at hip flexion (tucking their knees to their chest) alongside a heavily rounded spine with poor landing mechanics onto the box. 

     Moreover, the box is primarily there to decrease the amount of force your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints have to absorb. Decreasing this force will allow your muscles to stay fresh and be used more for the jumping aspect rather than the landing part. Yes, the box does serve as an external cue, or a goal, that many athletes love because athletes are very goal oriented. 

     To perform an efficient box jump, you should demonstrate triple extension and optimal landing mechanics (soft landing, not loud). Some great external cues are: push the ground away and try to hit the ceiling with the top of your head.

“I need to lift weights to get more explosive”
“Body weight exercises are too easy; that won’t get me to jump higher”

     A misconception of improving explosiveness and jump height is that you need to lift weights to accomplish this. Although lifting weights will definitely help because it increases your force production and muscle size, you can gain several inch increases in your vertical jump without weights. 

     How is this possible you may ask? One of the most effective and simplest ways to do this is addressing the way you jump. As mentioned earlier in this blog post, jumping is a skill; as a result, addressing your mechanics, techniques, and sequencing will immediately increase your vertical jump. Lifting weights will improve your ability to produce force, but if you can’t apply or sequence that force, lifting weights won’t be the best use of your time.

     Furthermore, research has demonstrated that plyometric training alone has been as effective as weight lifting exercises for increasing vertical jump, specifically the countermovement jump. Weight lifting exercises included variations of cleans, snatches, or pulls.

Key Takeaways

     Plyometrics within the world of sport performance training can provide amazing benefits for being the better athlete on the court. However, if done incorrectly with poor technique and too much volume, it can also lead to a path of constant injuries and credit card hops. 

     Some things to consider: Rest anywhere from 1-2 days between plyometric sessions (based off your training age), perform before strength training and or conditioning and look for quality movement instead of quantity. 

     Plyometrics is a skill, and doing countless jumping drills until your legs are tired will not get anyone dunking a basketball. The goal should be mastering all the skills that go into being an efficient jumper. 

     If you have any questions about your jumping ability or plyometric programming, contact us or schedule a FREE 10-minute consultation, and we’ll love to help you out! We also have been working hard to develop amazing products based on what you guys commonly ask for and want that we are excited to announce soon; stay tuned! 

     Please continue to give us feedback, ask questions, engage with us and share with your family, friends, & teammates. We are here to provide high value for you guys, so thank you for being part of our community!


Campillo, RR, Andrade, DC, and Izquierdo, M. Effects of plyometric training volume and training surface on explosive strength. J Strength Cond Res 27(10): 2714–2722. 2013

Christos, K.: Effect of Plyometric Training on Running Performance and Vertical Jumping in Performance Boys. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20(2), 441–445. 2006

Fischetti, Francesco & Vilardi, Alessio Domenico & Cataldi, Stefania & Greco, Gianpiero. (2018). Effects of Plyometric Training Program on Speed and Explosive Strength of Lower Limbs in Young Athletes. Journal of Physical Education and Sport. 18. 10.7752/jpes.2018.04372.

Haff, G.G, & Triplett N.T. Essential of Strength Training and Conditioning. 4th Edition. National Strength and Conditioning Association. 2016

Ricardo Berton, Manoel E. Lixandrão, Claudio M. Pinto e Silva & Valmor Tricoli (2018) Effects of weightlifting exercise, traditional resistance and plyometric training on countermovement jump performance: a meta-analysis, Journal of Sports Sciences, 36:18, 2038-2044, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1434746

Stefanyshyn, D. & Nigg, B. Contribution of the lower extremity joints to mechanical energy in running vertical jumps and running long jumps. Journal of Sport Sciences, 16, 177-186. 1998

The Basketball Doctors - Gabriel Ignacio Physical Therapist

Dr. Gabriel Ignacio PT, DPT, OCS, TPI

Ryan Sare CSCS, PES, CPT, Pn1

     Coach Ryan received his Bachelors of Science degree in Strength and Conditioning from California State Fullerton, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, and Personal Trainer. He has experience of training athletes from various sports such as soccer, volleyball, baseball, and basketball; he has worked with athletes on getting stronger and more explosive, all while keeping them healthy and away from the sidelines.     
     Working at ProSport Physical Therapy & Performance, he also helped dozens of athletes return to the court and field and remain healthy thereafter. He works directly with physical therapists, like The Basketball Doctors, to achieve their client’s goals, while decreasing risk of injuries.

Coach Matthew Camargo

Matthew Camargo

     Coach Matthew Camargo has experience working with all types collegiate athletes, tactical athletes, MMA fighters, on top of professional athletes from the MLB and the NFL. He also has worked with athletes who are recovering from surgeries, getting them ready for returning to sport. He also serves as a strength coach and consultant with the Orange County Fire Academy. 
     He is currently the Director of ProSport Performance. As a coach his main interest is optimally building and maintaining strength for all athletes. He’s an advocate for understanding the “why” behind every action to produce best results. 
The Basketball Doctors - Marco Lopez Physical Therapist

Dr. Marco Lopez PT, DPT, CSCS

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