Whether reading a hoops magazine, visiting a basketball website or reading about the NFL Scouting Combine, I am constantly bombarded with advertisements for vertical jump programs; created by guys claiming to be experts at improving a player’s explosiveness and athletic ability. I rarely know who any of these guys are yet they claim to be industry experts; all of which are selling programs, gizmos, gadgets, and even pills that promise to deliver unbelievable improvement in one’s vertical jump. After researching this and their programs to large extent, it is my professional opinion that most of these programs are a sham. These guys are not credible strength coaches or performance specialists; they are simply con artists. Listen to some of these claims:
“If you’ve been wanting to dramatically, easily, and quickly enhance your athletic ability, so you’ll dominate the competition and hold the capability of performing effortless magical plays, I’ve got the most important letter you’ll ever read. Just take a minute and read below to see how you can crush your frustrating lack of athletic ability problems once and for all.”
“How would you like to know exactly how to develop court dominating power, sick athleticism, rock solid strength, and ‘Highlight Reel producing” quickness?”
“I’ve helped athletes who didn’t even have a lick of experience at the time and turned them into basketball heroes within weeks!”
“Now You Can Discover the Power House Secrets that Can Easily Get You Flying Through the Air and Doing Electrifying Dunks!”
“If you would like to learn what the pro’s do to jump higher, become quicker, develop explosiveness, increase strength and improve overall athletic ability and performance…then this new program is just what your looking for!”
“The secrets that will almost “instantly” increase your vertical leaping ability. These secrets are so powerful they’re guaranteed to increase your vertical by a minimum of 9 inches!”
“Are you ready to explode off the ground and finish breaks with rim-rocking two handed monster dunks?”
“Small research laboratory stumbles upon “vertical leap in a tablet” formula that — for the very first time — allows above-the-rim gains for the average, bench-warming baller.”
“Explosive Lab-Tested And Doctor-Approved Discovery Biologically Forces Even Hard-Gainers To Unleash Rapid Vertical Jump Gains Of Up To 5 Inches In Just 15 Days!”
“Forget old-school plyometrics… if you are one of the 99.2% of ballers born with “inferior genetics”, then this will easily be the most important discovery of your life because this new formula, forcefully and unfairly can re-wire your central nervous system and supercharge your muscular power… for straight up-and-down vertical jump gains of 10 inches or more… all without the use of “jumping programs” or “platform shoes”…”
“If you can touch the net, I guarantee you can dunk.”
The fact that these programs are fooling folks into buying their cool-aide (sugar water) is simply unacceptable in my eyes. As a legitimate, long time basketball strength & conditioning coach as well as someone who has a valid, justifiable vertical jump training program on the market (the MVP program), these guys give people like me a bad rap. I don’t ever want to be mentioned in the same sentence as these hacks. Now, it is not my place to name specific names or websites and this article is certainly not directed at any one person or program in particular; I’m taking aim at this group of con artists as a whole and want to expose them and their fallacies. I also want to make crystal clear I am not claiming these programs don’t work; you may very well increase your vertical jump. I am simply stating these programs don’t live up to their outlandish claims and preposterous promises. So you may improve your vertical jump; but you won’t gain 8-12 inches! I will also make clear I have not tried these programs myself; my thoughts and opinions are based purely on my vast experience in this industry and what I know to be the truth in human performance.
The claims these sites make are unbelievable. Some guarantee an increase in vertical jump of 8-12 inches in a matter of weeks. Others claim they will double your vertical jump, or better yet, get your vertical to 40 or 50 inches. For someone to make such outlandish promises, they must be the best of the best, right? But after reading many of these sites extensively, most of their “resumes” are paper thin. Most make claims to have worked with high level players, although not one recognizable player is ever named. Most make claims they have helped hundreds or even thousands of athletes, but where is the proof? Do they really even train basketball players on a day to day basis or do they just pretend they do? Why are all of their testimonials from people no one has heard of? How come most of the testimonials neglect to include a way to truly identify them? I am well aware you do not have to work with NBA players or high profile players to be a quality strength coach or expert in vertical jump, but seriously, if their programs did what they claim, don’t you think just one noteworthy player would have used their services and been proud to say so?
For the record, I am well aware high school athletes and members of NCAA institutions are not allowed to endorse commercial products at risk of jeopardizing their eligibility. But pro players can endorse whatever they want. So can coaches as well as a host of other credible professionals. Yet none ever endorse these programs. Why? And what gives these guys the right to call themselves a vertical jump expert? How legit are the pictures they use? How do I know that is a 10 foot rim? How do I know they didn’t jump off of a bench to dunk like that? How do I know the person in the picture isn’t 6’5” and claiming to be 5’9”? As a real life strength & conditioning coach, I believe the results they claim are absolutely, positively not possible for 99% of the players in the world. A 50 inch vertical jump? An increase of 12 inches in 4 weeks? Touching your head on the rim when you are 5’7”?
Let’s Look at the NBA Combines “No Step Vertical Jump” Results
I went online and looked up the results from the last three year’s NBA combines (2007 – 2009). These standardized tests were administered by the NBA’s top strength & conditioning coaches, guys with real experience and educational backgrounds. Their first test, the “No Step Vertical Jump” is measured accurately on a Vertec device and is done to standard – no shuffle step, no side step, no drop step and no gather step was allowed, just straight down and straight up. Keeping the above guidelines in mind, guess how many guys in the past three year’s NBA Combine had a 50 inch vertical jump? NONE. Guess how many had a 40 inch vertical? NONE. Not one player broke 40 inches on this particular test. Not even guys who are known for their hops: Jerryd Bayless, Al Thornton, Michael Beasley, or Derrick Rose. And these are the best players (and in many cases, the best athletes) in college basketball.
“Max Vertical Jump” Results
For their second test, the “Max Vertical Jump”, the athlete was allowed to take as many steps toward the Vertec as they felt necessary to acquire their maximum vertical jump. Everyone was required to start within the 15’ arch and each athlete had the choice of a 1 or 2 foot takeoff. Even using this protocol, only 9 players (less than 3%) got above a 40 inch vertical, with 42 being the highest. Just a few months ago at the pre-draft combine in Chicago; Jonny Flynn (Minnesota Timberwolves) was the only player to get a 40 inch max vertical jump. And that was with a running start!!! I am sure if you look at the previous 10 years of NBA combine results you will see a similar pattern. If the best and most athletic college basketball superstars, who have been training under the watchful eye of proven college strength coaches aren’t jumping 50 inches, I’m supposed to believe any kid off the street will be able to achieve that after following one of these vertical jump programs?
One of the main reasons they trick so many kids is because they offer a money back guarantee, which is nothing more than a false sense of security. Because studies have shown time and time again that hardly anyone ever takes them up on their offer and asks for their money back – why?- because it is an actual admittance of failure. It well worth the risk for them to offer a money back guarantee because they know no one will actually do it. It is a ploy to move product. Many may escape the money back guarantee because of some loophole in the fine print. My parents taught me when I was very young, if something looks too good to be true, it almost always is.
I don’t offer a money back guarantee on my MVP program even though the program works and I have used versions of it with thousands of players. I also don’t make any promises for results. Some folks will make much better gains than others. The only thing I know is that if a person does the program, they will improve. How much they improve is dependent upon their genetics, their starting level, and their effort and consistency. Period. The truth is your genetics do dictate your potential to jump. Muscle fiber type and CNS efficiency are just two examples of traits that will ultimately determine how high you can jump, both of which are nearly impossible to see just by looking at someone. Not everyone can have a 30 inch vertical, much less a 40 or 50. Not everyone will be able to dunk a basketball. Not everyone has the ability to play in college, must less the NBA. Period. We were all born with different abilities and potentials. Everyone can improve their vertical jump, but not everyone can achieve the results these shysters claim. In fact, hardly anyone can.
Now, I don’t want to get accused of being hypocritical. I am proud of the fact that HoopsKing and I created and sell the MVP DVD, a 12 week vertical jump program, of which I make a modest royalty on. I am the first to admit that is part of how I make my living, in addition to training players full time. I stand by the fact the info in that program is legitimate and I make no guarantee on results. I know as a real strength coach; the results will be different for everyone. However, I have full confidence that if a player follows the program consistently, with great effort, and is accurate and progressive, they will make gains. For some that might mean 6 inches, for someone else 3. But at least it will be real! Also, I didn’t wake up one morning and proclaim myself a vertical jump expert. I have a solid educational background and 10 years of real life work experience on my resume, including previous work with Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Montrose Christian HS, the Nike Skills Academies, the Jordan All American Classic, and the McDonalds All American game.
Since I first posted this on my website, I’ve had some very compelling questions and comments. Check these out:
Comment: How do genetics have anything to do with it?
[Alan Stein] For one, your genetics determine your muscle fiber type. This is a key factor. Someone who possesses predominantly fast twitch muscle fibers in their lower body has the potential to jump higher than someone who was born with mostly slow twitch fibers. While your central nervous system’s efficiency can be improved through proper training; your overall neurological efficiency is somewhat pre-determined at birth. Some folks were just born with more control over their muscular system. Limb length and tendon insertion points are two other genetic factors you can’t control. The folks with the highest vertical jumps were born with favorable genetics and have trained hard and trained properly.
Comment: If you don’t think a 50” vertical is possible, how do you explain all of the guys on YouTube like Area 51 (he is only 5’ 7”) and the guys on Team Flight Brothers?
[Alan Stein] First and foremost, I never once said that it was impossible to have a 50” vertical. I am saying it is extremely rare; like “winning the lottery” rare. I know these guys have impressive leaping ability… I have seen it firsthand. I also know they work hard on their craft and train consistently. But if you believe for one second these particular individuals weren’t born with the favorable genetic predispositions (muscle fiber type, CNS efficiency,etc.) that gave them the potential to jump that high; then you need to re-read my previous answer regarding genetics. That is exactly why everyone who does a vertical jump training program can’t jump as high as these guys. Do you think if you followed their EXACT training program for an entire year you would have the same result? Do you think you would have a 50” vertical?
Comment: Why do you NFL players and Olympic lifters have higher verticals then NBA players?
[Alan Stein] I am well aware that the highest combine verticals for certain NFL positions (cornerbacks, running backs, and wide receivers) are statistically higher than the average combine verticals for potential NBA players. No argument. I assume the same is true for elite Olympic lifters; although I haven’t seen the stats. The elite level football players at those three positions in particular, almost all of the time, were born with the same genetic advantages I keep mentioning. A prototypical cornerback in the NFL is EXTREMELY explosive. He has to be, or he wouldn’t be playing at that level! Again, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t worked hard and trained properly, it means he was born with certain tools that allowed him to develop such explosiveness through training. Not everyone was born with the tools to be an NFL cornerback; just as not everyone was born with the tools to dunk a basketball or play in the NBA. Bottom line is this; in order to be a successful cornerback in the NFL or to be an Olympic caliber weight lifter, it is favorable to be extremely explosive and powerful. Both require very short bursts of high intensity power. There are always exceptions; but this is the general rule.
Comment: I think with hard work an average person can beat someone with genetic talent.
[Alan Stein] Beat them in what? A vertical jump contest or playing elite level basketball? If you are talking about basketball, there are too many factors above and beyond vertical jump that determine a person’s chances of playing college or professional basketball. Fundamental skills, basketball IQ, experience, height, and competitiveness are just some of the factors that are equally, if not more, important than jumping ability. In this scenario I am well aware that “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” That is one of my favorite quotes. Yes, someone without superior genetics can still attain a high level of success in a given sport. Yes, someone born with the right tools is not guaranteed to be successful. I have never implied otherwise. But if you think EVERYONE has the potential to have a 40” vertical jump or can dunk a basketball than you are truly mistaken. This is why I wrote my original blog. Most (not all) vertical jump programs claim that “anyone” can gain “8-12 inches” on their vertical, which by my definition, would be “amazing results.” And again, I know for a fact, that is 100% not true. As always, please share this article with any player or coach you know as my goal is to reach and impact as many players as possible. I welcome all comments and thoughts as long as you make sure your comments and/or questions are: abide by these guidelines:
1) Be respectful and professional. I had someone leave a comment that was not only factually incorrect (it was as if he didn’t even read my blog); it was full of grammatical errors, expletive words, and was more of a personal attack on me. If you want respect, you have to earn it. You only earn it by carrying yourself in a professional manner and sticking to the issue at hand. You if you want to debate philosophies; awesome! If you want to talk smack; look elsewhere.
2) Have something legitimate to back up your point of view; either personal experience with the players you work with or unbiased research. Don’t come at me with hear-say and propaganda from folks who have an obvious financial interest. And please get your own facts straight before you try to argue against mine!
If I can ever be a resource to you for your strength & conditioning, please let me know, I would be honored to help. You can email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. For exclusive daily coaching points, motivational quotes, and videos of the “exercise of the week”, please follow me (and subscribe) to:
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Train hard. Train smart.
Alan Stein is the owner of Stronger Team and the Head Strength & Conditioning coach for the nationally renowned, Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball program. He spent 7 years serving a similar position with the Montrose Christian basketball program. Alan brings a wealth of valuable experience to his training arsenal after years of extensive work with elite high school, college, and NBA players. His passion, enthusiasm, and innovative training techniques make him one of the nation’s leading experts on productive training for basketball players. Alan is a performance consultant for Nike Basketball as well as the head conditioning coach for the annual McDonald’s All American game, the Jordan Brand All American Classic, and the Nike Summer Skills Academies. Alan is a Camp Coach at the prestigious NBA Players Association’s Top 100 Camp as well as the Chris Paul CP3 Elite Backcourt Camp. Alan has filmed over a dozen DVD’s on improving performance and is a sought after lecturer at basketball camps and clinics across the world. He has been featured in Winning Hoops, Time Out, Dime, SI.com, SLAMonline.com, American Basketball Quarterly, Stack, Men’s Health, HOOP, and FIBA Assist Magazine.