Vertical Jump Drills

We’re rolling through the 21-22′ NBA season and jumper’s knee is taking it’s toll. The Boston Celtics just lost Robert Williams III  to tendinopathy… which probably means he’s been suffering from some jumper’s knee since pre-season.

Recently I chatted about this with Dr. Jesse Polanco from Physiocare Spine and Sport (where I refer all the athletes that train with me in-person at my facility in Tampa Bay). You can train with me 1-on-1 here. A lot of my athlete’s are looking to improve their vertical jump and overall force output, which tends to result in jumper’s knee.

Dr. Jesse offered up some valuable information as to how athlete’s can alleviate symptoms of jumper’s knee as well as prevent knee injury.

What is Jumper’s Knee?

Jumper’s knee is a fairly common injury for athletes who do any kind of jumping or even sprinting during training or competing. Simply put, it’s inflammation of the patellar tendon which runs over-top of the patella bone.

Jumper's Knee Diagram

*Image via

There can be a number of different causes for jumper’s knee but the most common is often a dysfunction either above or below the knee, meaning it can originate in a weakness of the hip or ankle causing the knee to take on too much stress.

Dr. Jesse uses the following eccentric drills to address these issues with his athletes.

Eccentric Exercises for Jumper’s Knee

1. Banded Squat

Banded Squats for Jumper's' Knee

Begin by attaching a large, high-resistance band around a squat rack. Step both feet inside the band and position it so that the band is directly behind both knees.  Step back so there’s resistance against the band before squatting to 90 degrees.

You’re going for a slow descent, aiming for the eccentric or lowering portion of the squat to last about 8 seconds. Dr. Jesse also recommends bracing yourself with a strong core and thinking about driving the knees apart placing more weight onto the outer edges of your feet to activate the glutes.

Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.

2. Lateral Step-Down

Jumper's Knee Lateral Step Down

This is a fairly simple drill, but adding the slow, eccentric descent really works to intensify things. If this feels like it aggravates your jumper’s knee Dr. Jesse recommends using a smaller box, or waiting to do this exercise when your knee is less inflamed.

Begin standing on a bench with your right foot, holding onto a wall or squat rack in front of you. Dorsiflex the left foot, pulling the toes toward the shin as you sit back and lower towards the floor. Focus on keeping the right shin mostly vertical, with the majority of your weight in the middle of the right foot. Again, these should have about an 8 second eccentric portion as you lower the left heel to tap the floor.

Complete 3 sets of 8-10 each leg

3. Kneeling Stretch 

Jumper's Knee-Kneeling Achilles Stretch

Begin kneeling with the right foot out in front, and left knee on the ground behind you. Place a small pad or a block about 2″ high below the heel of your right foot, keeping the weight in the toes. Shift your weight forward bringing the knee over the toes (only going far enough so that the heel maintains contact with the pad or block). Hold this position for 5 seconds.

Complete 3 sets of 5 seconds on each side. 

Preventing Jumper’s Knee for Athletes

Dr. Jesse recommends going through this series of drills up to 3 times a week to help alleviate symptoms of jumper’s knee. Another important element is prevention through proper strength training and vertical jump training. Here’s a few workouts to improve your vertical:


If you’re interested in working with Dr. Jesse visit his website here.

For more tips on preventing jumper’s knee, increasing strength, and hitting new heights on your vertical jump – consider joining the Elite Vertical Academy. It’s the only vertical jump program proven to improve your own genetic potential… and you have the chance to join tons of other athletes who’ve increased their own vertical by 8-12 inches in just 16 weeks. 

Get access to this game-changing program today:

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