Many athletes look for ways to gain a competitive advantage. Using the right gear can enhance your performance both in practice and competition. Jumping is an integral part of basketball and certain track and field events, so having the best shoes for your specific sports can help you jump higher and improve your game.
The Lighter Side
For track and field athletes running hurdles or competing in the high jump, light-weight track waffles with firm bottoms give you the most height and best performance. Since they are light-weight, they will not add drag to your vertical jump. Also, the firm soles found in track waffles support the foot better, resulting in a quicker descent and take-off. Shoes that support a faster take-off help you make the most use out of both force and momentum to maximize spring and jump height.
Add Some Spring
Athletic Propulsion Lab sought to revolutionize basketball shoes with the Concept 1's that claim to give athletes up to an additional 3.5 inches on their vertical jump. The "load n' launch" technology used in these shoes offers a spring in the shoe to help you gain extra jumping height -- which is why they were banned by the NBA for giving players an unfair advantage. If you are playing for fun, these may be a good option to give you some additional vertical jump height. If you are playing competitively, choose a shoe that has snug top support to stabilize your ankle during jumps. Also, select a shoe that balances a stiff midsole for more explosiveness off the ground with a cushioned midsole for more shock absorbency upon landing. This balance is important for basketball players who must jump and land frequently throughout a game.
Jump for Fun
If you aren't interested in increasing your vertical jump for sport but want to really soar, you can choose footwear on stilts. Shoes like the Air-Trekker jumping stilts attach to your feet and lower leg; have flexible, curved stilts fashioned after the curvature of a kangaroo's legs; and can help you jump up to 10 feet in the air. There are models that have stilts of varying lengths to accommodate beginners and children. However, these are considered extreme sports equipment and wearing them comes with the same dangers of many other extreme sports. So, use these with the proper protective gear and only if you are in good physical health and condition.
Time for Training
Although wearing the proper footwear can provide more support, greater spring and less drag for your vertical jumps, no shoe can overcome bad jumping form and poor muscle development. The best way to jump higher is to combine the right footwear with proper plyometric and strength training. The force for your jumps comes from the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Doing plyometric exercises like the box jump, rhythm squats and depth jumps can help you improve your explosiveness as you jump. Strength exercises like calf and toe raises, snatch-grip deadlifts and power cleans can help you develop the muscular power to launch you in the air. Practicing vertical jumps can help you perfect your jumping form and improve your jump height.