By Alan Stein
Whether reading a hoops magazine or visiting a basketball website, 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. As a veteran strength & conditioning coach, it is obvious to me most of these folks are completely bogus. I constantly find myself laughing out loud at some of the claims they make.
After a lot of preliminary internet research, it is my professional opinion nearly every one of these programs is a sham. These guys are not credible strength coaches or performance specialists; they are simply con artists who are trying to trick honest kids out of hard earned money. And that is absolutely 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. Their approach is sleazy and unprofessional and it makes me sick to think they make money swindling kids who are desperate to jump higher and improve their game. 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?
So I started to ask myself, what is their real resume? Who have they really worked with? Do they really even train basketball players on a day to day basis or do they just pretend they do? I have worked as a full time private, professional strength & conditioning coach for the last 10 years, so I take grave offense to someone with an empty mug shot and phony resume claiming to be an expert in a field that I have worked so hard in for a decade.
Then I started asking myself a ton of other questions:
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"?
And if you think their resumes and testimonials are a hoax, you should see the claims they make regarding the results you will get. 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"?
Don't believe me? Do you actually think a 50 inch vertical is really possible to attain for 99% of players?
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. 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? Is that a joke?
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. Let me tell you, as soon as you see "money back guarantee" on any type of workout product or program, you must question its credibility. NOTHING in this world is guaranteed. NOTHING. And to paraphrase Chris Farley in the movie Tommy Boy, "the only reason they have a guarantee is because they know they sold you a guaranteed piece of crap!" So why do they offer it? Because studies have shown time and time again that hardly anyone ever takes them up on their offer and asks for their money back 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. Heck many times, they 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. You know why? If you don't get results, it is your fault, not mine. I know the program works; 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.
Another reason I know most of these programs are counterfeit is because all of their websites have the exact same look; same layout, same color scheme, same rhetorical questions. This is because most of these guys have taken classes or read books from the same internet marketing people. And these people are experts at designing sites to trick folks into buying their product. These con artists spend more time on their computer working on their site than they do actually training players!
They spend hours and hours "writing copy," which means they follow a specific template on what to write. Therefore all of their info follows the same pattern. They come up with a catchy headline. Then they list several problems their perfect customer has (can't jump, no time, no money, etc.). Then they list several benefits to dispute these problems. Then they think of a few reasons why someone would not buy their product or program and then have an "answer" to that. It is called, "identify problem... agitate.... solve by using their program." These guys are merely wordsmiths who prey on kids insecurities and they rely on the fine print to make it legal.
Don't believe me? Go check out the sites yourself. They usually start off with a letter directly to you. Then they say something to the effect that this will be the most important thing you ever read. Then they make several ridiculous claims. Then they sprinkle in some questionable testimonials. Then they act like they don't even want your business if you aren't 100% serious or committed. Then they act like they are giving a huge discount. Then they start tacking on FREE stuff. Blah, blah, blah.
Now let's kick some truth. 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 spinsters 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.
Train hard. Train smart.
*Below are claims I have seen made on actual websites. Please note the misspellings and incorrect grammar is on their end, not mine!
• "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 sold 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."