Inconsistent Vertical Jump Heights | Why? Answered


So your working out, jumping a lot, your eating healthy and your sleeping right, but you notice often times your vertical jump fluctuates. Some days you jump higher than others, but most days you feel your not jumping your highest. What gives?

Why am I able to jump higher some days but other days I can’t jump as high? This is actually quite common, while the higher your vertical leap is the more dramatic the difference you may see between good jumping days to bad ones. This also has a lot to do with what you have done leading up to your jumping session, are your legs tired from working out? Are you hurt? And the type of surface your jumping off…

All of these variables can affect how high you jump. Not only are there internal factors but there are also external ones too. Such as the surface you are jumping off. We will take a look at some of these factors that are you keeping you from jumping your highest.

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Inconsistent Vertical Jumps

So you are doing a vertical jump program, you’ve been at it for a couple of weeks now, you decide you are going to do some testing and some practice dunks today.

You go out and you in fact test higher then you ever have jumped before and you do it a couple of times not just once, you realize that what you are doing is actually working or is it? The next day you are excited for your new found vertical and attempt to replicate your success from the previous day. But guess what you can’t even come close. What gives?

You notice this happens a lot and is very discouraging. It probably happens once a week where you find your jumping your highest.

You should know, anytime you hit your best jump, it might take a couple of weeks to even match that same height. It does take a lot of time to stabilize those personal best vertical gains. You may even beat your personal best and your old personal best is now your consistent leaping height.

With that in mind you may or have already seen a 1 to 5 inch difference between your best and average vertical jump. Its important to note that you shouldn’t focus on  trying to match your personal best and get frustrated. You will feel defeated, instead continue with your jumps as if you are already jumping your highest on every jump. More often than not if you continue to jump and train you will match you personal record in due time.

Variables that effect your Jumps

Working out, fatigue, too much basketball and surfaces all can play a part on how high you are jumping…

When I was younger trying to increase my vertical I made a lot of mistakes. I would do a vertical jump program and play basketball everyday and not give my legs time to rest. And of course I think that the program didn’t work and made me lose inches on my vertical jump when in reality I was just over trained and exhausted.

On the flip side to that I spent a lot of time, working out and not playing basketball at all to give myself a lot of rest to increase my vertical jump. This was a big mistake, as my main goal was to play basketball at a higher level and not playing basketball wasn’t going to get me there. I was scared that if I played I wasn’t resting enough and wasn’t going to get those inches I worked so hard for because I was playing and not resting my legs. I was young and dumb, I admit.

Knowing what your goals are and what’s important , be realistic with yourself in the process. If you ever get lost just ask yourself what’s the number one goal?

Working Out

When it comes to jumping working out with weights is definitely going to effect your vertical jump in a small or big way. If you have been working out hard for the last couple months with no rest you may feel as if your jumps are not as high, this could be because you haven’t given your body some active rest. This is when the body grows not when your working out. If you take a week off you may find your jumping higher than ever, you have allowed your body to catch up and recover. How fresh your legs feel is going to matter when trying to reach a personal best or beat your personal record.

If you do workout with weights you may feel it is best to do your jumps before working out and not after, again this will depend on how experience you are in the weight room. So athletes find heavy squats help them jump higher. Beginner’s will not feel this way in fact they will feel as if their legs feel like jello, if they attempt to jump after a workout.


The surfaces in which you jump off of are not all made the same, and will not give the same vertical jump height. In fact you may notice that you jump lower on concrete than you do on a gymnasium floor.

I am sure you have already noticed that jumping off hard wood is a lot easier and more forgiving on the joints. The hard wood floor gives you a little boost due to the wooden boards when they flex. You may feel you are jumping much higher on your vertical jumps by 1 to 6 inches when compared to other surfaces.

So if you are dunking inside and then the following day you are dunking outside and your not getting anywhere near your max jump, don’t be alarmed this is completely normal. For myself I had as much as 6 inch difference between the two surfaces.


Fatigue comes in many forms, you could be tired from sleep, tired from working a manual job like heavy boxes. Your legs could be sore and tired from a workout a couple days ago or you could just have low energy.

Regardless you should understand what a healthy diet looks like, how much rest you need each day and how your body feels if you really want to boost your athletic ability.

Create routines for yourself and eventually they become habits so you can stay healthy and be jumping high each time you go out and practice.

Too Much Basketball

It is perfectly fine to play basketball but you need to monitor your rest when you do so. You can also shoot around and improve skill, this is another good idea. You could probably get away with playing basketball hard twice a week while doing shooting drills on your off days and working out your legs twice a week. You should be fine, the human body adapts very well to stress placed on it.

Don’t get caught up playing pickup basketball 5 days a week while working out thinking you will be jumping out the gym, you are going to start to feel warn down, and not as explosive on the court. Even if your doing a lot of plyos and jumping a lot you may still feel your barely getting off the ground.

The way to monitor your progress when it comes to vertical jump improvement is to ask yourself, are you improving in the weight room? Is my squat and deadlift numbers slowly going up or am I plateauing. Are my jumps when it comes to plyometrics explosive and am I getting higher on the jumps over time. If not you may need to dial it back considerably…

We all want to increase our verticals but we also want to get better at basketball, having a great vertical helps us become better at basketball but we still need to improve skill. So the question is what’s more important to you? Skill or vertical?

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