Vertical Jump – What it is and Why it Matters?

Just how important is a powerful Vertical Jump to you? Such question may seem odd to a majority of people. Yes, to those who are unaware of the importance of vertical jump, it may not seem like a very big deal. No matter where we are at the spectrum of physical fitness, we still jump from time to time. Perhaps we come home after a long day at work and it is raining, with all of those puddles of mud before us, our first instinct to save our quite price pair of shoes from its demise is to jump – or at the very least, take a long leap. Perhaps we stored something we need on the top of our kitchen cabinet, feeling a bit lazy walking to grab a bench or something to step on, we opt to jump in order to reach the item in question.

Jumping is one of the basic movements that our body are capable of doing. A few of the examples above shows that the average people, regardless of the fact that they spend most of their time in a day being sedentary, have the ability to perform the movement and get the job done. So what is it about the vertical jump – most specifically the powerful one, that makes it very important to us?

While jumping or taking a leap is a basic movement that the human body can pull off quite easily, a strong Vertical Jump is another beast of the same mother. Also widely referred to as Vertical Leap, it has been long considered as one of the most popular tests of measuring how high an athlete or an individual can elevate themselves off the ground from a standstill position. Primarily used in the athletic circles to test the individual’s muscular strength as well as their anaerobic power, this test is conducted during physical examinations on a regular schedule.

Having to raise one’s own center of gravity to the point it is higher than the vertical plane using only their muscles is not only a difficult task, it is also an incredibly physically taxing to the body. While such physical test and training may not be required for the average people, it is a non-negotiable matter for many athletes. This is largely due to the fact that many athletes such as track and field runners, basketball and football players, as well as volleyball and netball players greatly benefit from regular jumping training and Vertical Jump test. There are a few methods in order to measure a vertical jump, keep reading to learn about the types of jump test and how to properly measure the vertical jump of an athlete.

Methods Used to Properly Measure Vertical Jump

Routinely conducted to monitor an athlete’s muscular strength (more specifically the leg) as well as to properly assess the effectiveness of particular conditioning program used by the athlete in question, Vertical Jump comes with a number of different methods. However, the most commonly used method is the one where an athlete is ordered to perform a countermovement jump for as much the maximum height they possibly can. A countermovement jump is a method of jump from an upright standstill position; for this particular movement, both arm swing and slight downward movement are allowed. During this preliminary downward movement, an athlete purposely flexes at the hips and knees before they quickly extend their knees and hip to raise up themselves vertically off the ground.

Another type of Vertical Jump is the running vertical jump, in which the jump itself is done after a short sprint in order to help add more energy to the oncoming jump. With this boost of energy, athletes will be able to improve their ability on doing the aforementioned countermovement jump (also referred to standing vertical jump). Last but not least, perhaps the less common type of vertical jump used for the examination is the squat jump. In this vertical jump, the athlete will be asked to start from the stationary semi or partial squat position. Unlike the standing vertical jump, in squat jump, there is no preliminary downward stretching movement. Due to the absence of this downward phase, the average athletes are typically unable to jump as high as when they are doing the vertical jump from the standstill stance.

Records show that the difference between standing vertical jump and squat jump is as little as 3-centimeters and as much as 6-centimeters.

How to Properly Administer The Vertical Leap Physical Test

The most commonly used and simple way to properly measure an individual’s vertical leap is to specifically instruct them to stand on a flat surface and reach up against a flat wall – marking off the highest point they are able to touch. For this to be apparent, before the test is conducted, athletes are typically asked to slather their palm with a chalk commonly used for sports. Once the highest point reached is made, the athlete is then instructed to jump for a few times from the standing upright position – again, marking off the highest point they can reach at the peak of their vertical jump. The coach will then measure the distance between the two marked off points.

Another method that is more scientific has actually been devised and used at both of the collegiate as well as professional levels. Composing of as many as 14 inch retractable prongs which are placed in between each other ½ inch apart, the athlete will be instructed to perform a proper standing vertical jump while at the same time also making a contact with the aforementioned retractable prongs in order to mark their vertical jump capabilities.

When it comes to assessing the efficiency of conditioning program and the athlete’s explosiveness, standing vertical jump is not the only test they use. Each sport has its own series of tests to conduct when it is time to evaluate their athletes’ capabilities – let’s take a look at the NFL as an example. The NFL does not only rely on vertical jump test, it also adds the following movements into its series of physical examination: 40-yard sprint, sets of specific agility tests, and bench press test. Coaches can immediately see whether or not their athletes are in top condition for the upcoming season and whether or not an adjustment should be made to their conditioning program.

The Importance of Vertical Jump In Sports

Armed with the knowledge above, majority of people will figure out its importance for basketball players. Mostly because of the amount of jumps and slam dunks showcased on each basketball match. However, the importance and extensive benefits that is closely associated with regular Vertical Jump training and periodic assessment extends beyond the basketball realm. Yes, many other athletes also have vertical jump and specific training in their conditioning programs – regardless of the sport they are playing. On the top of our heads, sports which require a great deal of leg strength is track and field.

If you see a footage of athletes training such as the road to Olympics or other prestigious sport events, you will most likely notice the athletes combining running and jumping as well as running and taking a giant leap. Both of these movements are indeed standard practice in athletes’ conditioning programs – however, it is worth noting that when it comes to the vertical jumping examination, the only movement used is the standing vertical jump.

Vertical Jump is indeed widely used a measuring tool of an athlete’s agility and explosiveness, two of which are incredibly important in their sporting career. Quite like a fancy sports car with a massive engine under its hood, while the horsepower of said sports car may look impressive on paper, in reality what makes it count is what the car can do with it. Having an impressive horsepower does not mean a thing if the other components in the car cannot support the extra boost and ability to quickly accelerate. Not only does it create imbalance, it also shows that the extra power is of no use. For athletes, this imbalance surely will put them at a huge disadvantage.

Explosiveness is always the key in sports – this is largely due to the fact that almost every single type of sport known to men requires a high carryover as well as speed and agility. Yes, even the most slow paced sport like sumo wrestling!

This perhaps comes off as a surprise because, when you see a sumo wrestling match, the wrestlers almost always look like they do not anything other than trying to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground while at the same time attempting to shove their opponent down to the ground. Perhaps it is the amount of subcutaneous fat that they typically have on their bodies that makes it impossible for many of us average people to see which muscles they actually use during their sumo match. But when it comes to sumo wrestling, one thing for sure is whether it is trying to keep stability during all of that violent push or trying to shove the opponent down, the movements take a great deal of effort. An effort done with the support of strong lower body parts – more specifically the legs.

What Other Type of Sports Can Benefit From Jump Test?

Another sport that many of us fail to recognize is weightlifting. With track and field, it is clear to see that runners have done a lot of standing vertical jump and other jump variants as a part of their training regime. This is because they must run, and make their way through various obstacles. However, weightlifting seems highly unlikely on our books. Why would anyone with hundreds kilograms of iron plates stacked on the left and right side of the bar need to have a number of different jumps in their training regime?

As it turns out, just like how it is with sumo wrestlers, Olympic weightlifters have to generate explosive power from their legs – specifically the hamstrings. Does this seem surprising? We bet. Many average people would mistake Olympic weightlifters to lift the weight using the brute strength generated by their arms. This is none other than a common misconception. Olympic weightlifting is an incredibly complex exercise consisting of a series of movements combined into an entire movement of the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. As movements that require perfect technique and execution, it is important for the weightlifters to do the Snatch and Clean and Jerk flawlessly – one of the first things these weightlifters learn in the beginning is how to use their legs.

Power should be generated from the legs while the arms stay inactive, merely acting as tools to control the bar path. This is the primary reason why Olympic weightlifters always start off slow during the first pull (where they take the weight off the ground). However, this is where it gets tricky, once the weight has reached past their knees, they must transfer the power to their hip and explosively pull the weight overhead – where they will end up in a receiving position. This explosive pull is referred to as the second pull and without proper training there is no way a weightlifter can properly pull such heavy weight over their head or shoulder.

Without the correct power, weightlifters will most likely end up using their arms which may result in overactive upper trapezius muscle which leads to injury – and without explosiveness, their technique will suffer. For this very reason, Olympic weightlifters and almost every other collegiate and professional athletes makes isometric movements and Plyometric exercises a part of their training regimen. Isometric exercises are typically exercises which are specifically target the muscles in the lower limb part of the body – such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. This is done to ensure the muscles are equipped with the ability to produce specific movements that is associated with their sports. Whereas the Plyometric exercises is used to improve the athletes’ agility and explosiveness – this sequence of exercises typically consists of kneel jump, box jump, leap jump, backward jump, one-leg jump and most importantly the standing Vertical Jump.

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