Poise + Performance | Do Hoopers make good High Jumpers?

Since the days of Jordan and Michael Powell, there has been debate, curiosity and experiments comparing base line leaping basketball players to sky high jumpers in track and field. We asked our resident leap expert, Coach Myreon Sartin, the "Bounce Coach" what he thinks about translating court skills to bar skills....

As we all know the most explosive movement or action in a basketball game is a dunk. Everyone who plays the game probably envisions themselves on a fast break and going up for a windmill or tomahawk slam. Well as a basketball and track coach, I tend to scout my jumpers during hoops' season. Of course genes come into play whenever athleticism is the subject, but today I will share with you 3 technical things that I look for in my athletes to translate from the hardwood to the high jump!

Junior Athlete JaRule Melvin @jmade.25 competes well on the wood or mondo as a 6'3 high jumper and 21.36 sprinter

The first thing I look for when shopping for jumpers in the gym is "rhythm" leading up to a lay-up/dunk. The most important phase of the high jump is the approach. If the run up is off, a few things can happen like: taking off too far/close from the bar; taking too many/few steps; stutter stepping or stretching of the strides to make up for distance to the bar. So, when I see an athlete going from a full stride into a lay-up or dunk with good rhythmic bounce and grace, without the stuttering and over striding, I know I can introduce this athlete to the high jump.

In the high jump, you have to go from a horizontal position to a vertical one (running into a jump) all in a split second. So, the next thing I look for in basketball players is how well the athlete can transition from horizontal to vertical positions. For an athlete to achieve this, they must have a good amount of power because of how quick you have to change positions coming off the ground (horizontal) into the air (vertical). Basketball athletes are naturally good at this because of foot placement when preparing to take off and they get thousands of reps of running jump shots and layups which mimics this action. Having a good rhythmic run up will also contribute to going from horizontal to vertical.

The first thing I look for when shopping for jumpers in the gym is "rhythm" leading up to a lay-up/dunk

In the high jump, we use the Fosbury Flop technique which is basically a backward somersault. Body control is another technical aspect that I pay attention to when recruiting high jumpers. I watch for athletes that can glide through the air under control while going up for a layup, dunk, rebound, or to block a shot. I also pay attention to athletes making basketball moves like the euro step, crossovers, floaters, and spin moves, all of which demand good body control to perform. The most important thing is not to rush over the bar so you have to have that control to make sure the body is in the correct angles for the correct timing.

Coach Sartin still has a few hops of his own!

In conclusion, basketball can be used as preseason training for high, long, and triple jump. Many of basketball's drills and movements mimic the basics and provide a foundation for the jumping events. I look at it as a introduction to plyometric training and a great way to allow my jumpers to train without getting stale with the same settings.

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Jersey City, New Jersey, USA