To better your form, after stretching, eliminate any mental blocks that you might have. There is a connection between what your mind and what your body does, and you want to eliminate that by picturing your goals as clearly in your mind as possible, so that you don’t inhibit in any way what your mechanics are going to do.
I recommend that you watch NBA player Spud Webb, paying attention to how he gets into his jump. You will notice how Spud Webb’s last step before he explodes is exaggerated and about twice or three times as long as his normal step. Why does he do that? Because that additional length lowers his entire body, and when his entire body is lowered, it’s ready for all the muscles to contract and send him upward.
If you’re training for any event in track and field-whether it’s long jump or high jump-they’re going to teach you to exaggerate your final step so it lowers your entire body weight and gets you ready to explode. If you’re standing straight up in the air, the least that you can do is maybe flex your quads a little bit, flex your calves, and just do a little bit with your lower back. But you’re not going to be able to get near the explosion as when you’re already poised and in place.
Now, notice at the point right before full explosion, where his arm’s at, where’s the ball at. It’s nearly in between his legs, because if his hands were already up near his chest, he can’t explode using his upper body. So his whole body-including his legs, arms, and upper body-is ready to explode upward.
You want to exaggerate this as much as you can-even pointing your toes towards your knees so that your legs are ready to fully explode and that your joints and muscles are taking advantage of all of the elasticity that they have. Watch Spud Webb to see where everything is exploding upwards: his hands have gone up; his legs are extending; and he’s sending everything he has skyward. There’s a lot that can be said for watching pros and how they jump.