3 Vertical Jump Explosiveness Drills to Do With a Partner

We have put together a quick and easy guide on drills you can do with a partner that will up your vertical jump game. All three drills are focused on explosiveness which will lead to increasing that vertical jump.

Working these drills with a partner will make it that much easier to stay accountable and give great effort, by each of you having a support mechanism to keep pushing one another to the next level and surpassing your goals. The best part of partner work is that it can lead to better efforts driven by your competitive nature. The drive to beat your partners score in any drill will help make sure you are putting your all into each and every rep.


1. Lateral Barrier Hops

Lateral Barrier Hops - Project Pure Athlete

This exercise is plyometric in nature. It will help you learn to relax and contract your muscles quickly. This type of exercise is used to develop your ability to quickly land and get back off the ground, losing as little energy as possible when doing so. This movement can be scaled for different experience and strength levels by increasing or decreasing the height of the barrier being jumped over. To start, pick an object that is very small in height. The barrier could be as simple as a line on the ground. As the athletes need more challenge, the barrier can get taller or wider, building up towards a small bench. (Note: going too big with the barrier too soon will slow down the jumps and take away from the effectiveness of the drill).

This type of exercise can help build your endurance, speed, reactiveness, and strength. Giving you the raw tools to increase vertical jump.

To perform the lateral barrier jump, pick an appropriate sized barrier (can simply be a line on the ground if you have no other options). Then follow these steps:
Start with both feet on one side of the barrier.
As the timer starts you begin with a jump over the barrier, aiming to land with both feet on the other side of the barrier from where you started.
Immediately upon landing you jump back to the side you started on initially. Landing prepped to jump back over the barrier again.
This process will continue for the allotted amount of jumps or time prescribed for the drill.

Coaching tips:

You do not have to jump as high as possible for each rep. The goal is to quickly clear the obstacle and get to the next jump as quick and efficiently as you can.

Use your arm strike to aid in creating energy and momentum. Stole into the ground when landing and quickly reverse your hands to help create momentum moving you back into the next jump quicker.

Aim to land ready to immediately reverse direction. Time spent on the ground between reps is not only going to lose you your race versus your partner, but will also diminish the post workout adaptations we are training for.

This can be done for time (most jumps completed in a set amount of time, 20-30 seconds for example), or can be done by racing to a certain rep count (first to 20 jumps for example).

2. Partner Bounds

Partner Bounds - Project Pure Athlete

This drill exercise is very similar to the first in that we are aiming to complete an explosive jump as quickly as we can. Unlike the lateral barrier jumps though, speed is not the only variable here. We are also jumping for maximum distance.

This drill will activate a number of major muscle groups in your lower body including quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and calves. All crucial to increasing vertical jump. It will also aid in learning how to contract and relax quickly in a dynamic powerful movement.

Once again another exercise where all you need is your drill partner and a some space, just follow these steps:

  1. Stand with your feet at shoulder-width distance, in an athletic stance at your predetermined starting line.
  2. Start at the same time as your partner by jumping forward off of both legs. You will be bringing both feet back underneath you and preparing for a landing. Upon landing contact, the arms and hips go back putting you quickly into the bottom position of your next jump.
  3. Immediately after landing you are to repeat that action and jump forward for maximal distance again. This repeats either for a set number of jumps, or for a set distance.

Coaching tips:

If upon landing you are having trouble getting back off the ground for the next jump, focus on landing in a position that mimics the bottom of your jump. This will put you in better position to jump again quickly.

A great bound is a combination of jumping far, staying balanced, jumping quickly, and timing your movements.

Keep the overall repetitions lower here and focus on keeping the quality high Sets of 3-5 jumps for maximum distance in one set is a great option. Another option is to set it up like a traditional race, and have the winner be the first to pass the “finish line”.


3. Figure 8 Tag

Figure 8 Tag - Project Pure Athlete 

Set up two circles on the ground using cones or tape. The circles are placed side by side with about 3-4 feet between them. The circle size can be adjusted based on material or to just give the drill a different feel. Make the circles at least 6-8’ in diameter.

The general idea here is simple, one athlete is “it” and must catch the other athlete to “tag” them. The circles are the path the athlete must stay in at all times. The athlete avoiding the tag can go around either circle. They can not cut across the circles or run away from the circles. The only acceptable paths are along the outsides of the circles.

Start each athlete on opposite sides of the course and go until the “it” athlete tags the partner or the predetermined time runs out (30 seconds is a good place to start for timing rounds).

I love this drill for a few reasons. One, it’s simply fun. It’s working out that feels like play and sport. Two, it is very reactive and dynamic in nature. Rather than trying to be reactive with moments you know are coming, in tag you are quickly reacting to your partner in ways that are random and not predetermined. Third, this drill is amazing for foot and ankle strength. Running in tight circles around cones while trying to be fast will build up the lower limb strength very quickly. Lastly, it’s a drill that translates well to jumping and being athletic without having to be a jump and look exactly like a jump.

Add these drills in to get stronger, more reactive, but to also have fun being competitive with your partner. You and your drill partner can push each other daily to be better and improve your reps on every drill. Over time you will both begin to see the results. We won’t make outrageous or claims of instant success but if you trust in the process and continually repeat these drills you will absolutely get results.


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