Athletic shoes are made for different reasons. For basketball, volleyball and a few other sports, shoes that make you jump higher gives the player a big edge over their competitors. It may sound like wishful thinking but they’ve become reality.
Jump Higher Shoes: So Effective the NBA Banned Them
A few years ago, Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) developed their version of the jump higher shoes, which they called the Concept 1.
The shoe is based on APL’s Load ‘N Launch Technology which uses high tech research and development to spring load the soles of the shoes. This gives players the extra lift when they jump.
In their testing the shoes provided players with an increase of 3.5 inches in their vertical, allowing athletes to jump higher for basketball, volleyball and other sports that need it.
It is also for this reason that shortly after testing the shoe, the NBA banned its players from using the shoes in their games because it offered an “unfair advantage”.
In a game of inches, a 3.5” increase in your jump vastly improves your rebounding ability as well as being able to shoot and drive over others not to mention on how you dunk.
According to the company, their focus is to provide tat extra lift in their jump to make them more athletic in order to give them a performance edge in their sport.
The Load ‘N Launch Technology
What makes Athletic Propulsion Labs’ Load ‘N Launch Technology different is instead of just focusing on shoe cushioning and shock absorption as most athletic shoe manufacturers do, APL focused on jump performance.
So what they did was put extra focus on the forefoot of the shoe which is what we use to push off the floor instead of the heel of the shoe. This is where they inserted their Load ‘N Launch system.
The technology is made of what APL calls a ‘launch pad’. This technology ‘loads’ the force as you push down on the sole, then releases to help make you more explosive and jump higher (the ‘launch’ phase). The compressed energy in the launch pad is what helps spring you higher when you jump.
It Works Only If You Wear the Shoes
What’s the drawback with the shoes?
One thing to remember is that because the technology is built into the shoe, you only jump higher when you wear them. If you forget the shoes at home or they wear out as shoes do over time, you go back from being Superman to Clark Kent in an instant.
APL’s Concept 1 was priced at $300 initially when it first came out. In the last couple of years, they’ve come up with newer versions and more models. Their prices have also come down to between $150 for the low cuts and about $175 for the high tops.
One last consideration is whether or not the league you’re playing in will allow you to use them. They’ll be okay when playing among friends or a pick up game, but will officials of a recreational league or tournament give you that 3.5” jumping advantage over other players? I’m not sure.
Are There Other Options to Jump Higher?
The good news is that there are some other options to basketball shoes that make you jump higher. If you can’t afford them, or don’t want to get a pair, there are some other things (cheaper too!) that you can do to jump higher.
Using jump higher shoes is definitely among the ways to jump higher, but it isn’t the only way.
1. Get a good jump training program
This one requires you to do some work on your part.
The good news is it is definitely more permanent than the shoes. Proper jump training makes you more agile and athletic to increase your vertical. So whatever shoes you use you’ll still be able to go up the same.
Two programs that we’ve verified work to increase our jump are:
2. Get shoes that have a Negative Foot Inclination Angle
This was something we learned from research.
Basically a Negative Foot Inclination Angle is when the heel (back of the shoe) of the shoe is lower than the fore-foot (front of the shoe).
Normally, most shoes have a thicker heel for support and cushion, just like what APL mentioned above.
But because jumping relies on fore-foot (front of foot/toes) pushing off the ground, a thicker fore-foot is actually more beneficial if you want to jump higher.
A study done by Eastern Michigan University tested this using shoes with -3.5 degrees inclination. This meant the fore-foot of the shoe was 3.5 degrees higher than the heel.
Standard athletic shoes generally have a +4 degree inclination (heel is 4 degrees higher than forefoot).
In testing, the observed that the -3.5 degree shoes gave jumpers an average increase of 2 inches in jump height.
3. Use Lightweight shoes
This is one of the ‘dirty tricks’ you can use to increase your vertical without actually doing any workouts. Together with losing body fat, lightweight shoes cut down the weight your legs need to push you up.
With the same force, your legs can push lighter shoes higher than heavier shoes.
Obviously high tops weigh more because there is more material. To give you an idea, very lightweight shoes come in just under 7 ounces (.44 pounds) while the really heavy ones can go to 24 ounces (1.5 pounds) or more. That can make a difference as the game wears on and you get tired.
The Nike LeBron 12 for example weighs around 16 oz. depending on your size (the bigger the heavier of course).
What about Jump training shoes?
There are also manufacturers of what are called jump training shoes. Two very notable names that make these basketball training shoes are Strength Shoes and JumpSoles.
1. Strength Shoes
Strength Shoes are shoes that help you jump higher. They are training shoes that you use to do plyometric drills with. The design of the shoe is different from regular basketball shoes because the for-foot rests on a platform.
The way the shoe is set up forces you to balance, run and jump solely on your forefoot, which is said to work the jumping muscles and increase leg strength. It also built up the calf muscles what help in jumping.
Studies conducted with the Strength Shoe noted that:
- Strength Shoes do improve vertical jump when compared with regular shoes but not by much.
- They also increase risk of injury because you’re running and jumping on a small platform with your forefoot.
Our take: the risk of injury we believe is not worth the small extra gain. If you’re injured you’re out for a while. Depending on how and what you injured it may not fully heal which can affect your game going forward.
JumpSoles are similar to Strength Shoes but instead of supplying you with the entire shoe, their product is a strap on item that attaches a large sole on the forefoot.
Because of the fore-foot sole, you’re also forced to walk, run and jump using the front part of your foot since your heel is elevated from the ground.
You use the shoes to train, do jumping exercises and also play.
A study reported that a one and a half month training program using JumpSoles together with plyometric exercises did not give the users any enhancements over regular shoes.
Our take: in the end, you pay for the product and put in the time and effort. But if there’s no result from that, it isn’t worth getting.
What Then Should I Do?
Compared to the two jump training shoes, we prefer going the old fashioned way, doing the work.
It’s like what Michael Jordan said:
“Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you.”
If you train on your jump, they can make you change shoes, change uniform or whatever else, you’ll still jump high.
This is why we suggest going with training programs that have been shown to work. Those that we’ve seen living proof of delivering increased vertical jumping ability after training are:
- The Vert Shock System (for more info see our review here)
- The Jump Manual (for more details see our review here)
These are the two best jump training programs around in our book.
But they are different…
- The Vert Shock program is based on plyometrics and no weight lifting.
- The Jump Manual is based offers all-around training (stretching, strength training, plyo training and others).
They may take more work, but done properly you can see more than 8” improvements in your jump height.