Power, fitness, and strength are of paramount importance for any athlete.
That’s why it’s crucial to test these factors so that coaches can plan a training regime to ensure the best results. And vertical jump is one such test that allows coaches to test different parameters in one go.
But how does it work? Dive in to know!
What Does A Vertical Jump Test Involve?
You may be surprised to know that a vertical jump test doesn’t refer to a single test but a group of different jump tests to determine an athlete’s explosive strength and power. This includes both squat and countermovement jumps, performed without and with arm movements, respectively.
As such, a vertical jump makes an important testing criterion for many sports like tennis, football, basketball, and of course, volleyball. In fact, many coaches use this test to gauge the athlete’s ability to follow a particular training regime.
The athlete may be asked to perform a couple of vertical jumps before every session, with the results (jump height) recorded for each. And comparing these values will allow the coach to adjust the intensity or training volume for individual training sessions accordingly.
How Can This Test Help?
Apart from measuring strength and power, a vertical test jump can be used to gauge:
1. Movement Control
Movement control is THE most important factor in almost every sport, and a vertical jump test will help you assess just that. It will, in particular, give a precise idea about the jumping and landing abilities of an athlete.
Hence, many coaches employ this test to look for certain aspects like balance, height, and landing position. Ideally, your coach would want you to perform a nicely balanced jump originating from the midfoot with a considerable height.
Likewise, the landing should be smooth, with your knees lining with your toes. Moreover, you should maintain a straight posture and a braced core.
2. Fatigue Or Performance Measure
Both fatigue monitoring and performance measuring involves doing some technical calculations. But don’t worry; we won’t get into jargon or complicated formulas here!
Simply put, vertical jumps can be used to record the time you stay in the air (called flight time) and the jump height. Later, these numbers are put into formulas, software like Bioware, and even force platforms to calculate the jump power or other relevant aspects. And the numbers obtained help with both fatigue management and performance measuring.
Vertical jumps for the former should be conducted before every training session. But they should be limited to once every 6 to 12 months for the latter.
How To Do A Vertical Jump?
Now that you’ve got a fair idea about the benefits of vertical jumps, let us take you through the steps to conduct it for gathering precise normative data:
If you have a vertec jump pole handy, make the athlete stand next to it with his fingertips (of either hand) reach as far as possible, and mark this point. Ensure that his feet are firmly footed on the ground; otherwise, the initial height will be rendered incorrect.
Alternatively, you can use jumping equipment like force plates or jump mats, which will automatically record the jump height, flight time, etc. In case no equipment is available, simply use any smooth wall as the pole and mark the height on it using a pen or pencil. Name it H1.
We’d recommend conducting a practice test to ensure that the athlete is following the right technique.
The athlete should stand straight with his hands on his side in a stationary position. Then, he bends at the knees (like in a half squat) and jumps with full force. At the same time, the hands should be extended fully into the air with the fingertips touching the wall or pole.
Conduct the final test by making the athlete perform 3 or 5 jumps with a gap of a few minutes between each. This is the best way to assess consistency in technique. Like step 1, mark the points on the wall or pole touched by the athlete’s fingertips as H2, H3, H4, etc.
Once you’ve all the numbers, you can either consider the best distance or calculate the average distance of all the jumps. And if you’ve used power equipment, then it will record more data to calculate explosiveness and other parameters.
On the other hand, you can manually calculate the required parameters by feeding the data into relevant equations. But unless you’re absolutely sure about using them to improve the athlete’s performance or plan the training sessions, it will waste your time.
What Is Considered A Good Score?
Honestly, it’s difficult to answer this question with just one number, as the score will ultimately depend on factors like your jump technique, strength, muscle power, training regime, etc. Moreover, some athletes may naturally have more power to jump higher, thanks to their strong build and genetics.
That said, an average jump height between 20 and 30 inches is considered a high score for both males and females. For better understanding, we have rated some general normative jump heights (both in cm and inches) of males and females. However, this data will largely depend on the jump technique and height of the athlete.
Another thing to note here is that different equipment may function differently while recording your jump height. This means you can’t really compare the data recorded by a vertec pole with that of a jump mat. However, both of them will be valid as long as the process is followed correctly and the jump techniques are standardized.
The good news is that with proper training and exercise, it’s possible for athletes to improve their vertical jump scores. And in the following sections, we will talk about that.
How To Improve Your Vertical Jump Through Jump Training Or Plyometric Exercises?
One of the best ways to improve your vertical jump is by performing polymetric or jump training exercises. These are specifically aimed at helping specific muscles in your body generate the maximum possible force during the jump in a very short span. Not only that, but they can also improve your overall speed, power, and strength.
A popular plyometric exercise is the drop vertical jump test, which can be easily performed with the help of a raised platform. Depending on the athlete’s jumping ability (or recent jump scores), the height of this platform should ideally be between 30 and 80 cm. But novices can go even lower to anywhere than 30 cm, while experienced athletes can go above 30 inches.
Start by standing straight on the platform with your feet comfortably apart and “dropping down” (but not jumping) on the ground by bending your knees during the landing. Immediately jump back to the platform.
Talking about the benefits, jumping down on the ground helps stretch your leg muscles, and this phase is called the “eccentric” phase. On the other hand, jumping back on the platform with any break or adjusting your feet position makes for the “eccentric concentration” phase.
The overall aim here is to reduce the time your feet are on the ground to a bare minimum (preferably 0.25 seconds or less). You can shorten the platform to achieve this if required. Besides, the athlete should ensure landing on the ball of the feet (and not on the heels) for this exercise to be completely effective.
Since this exercise is extremely high-intensity, ensure that the athlete doesn’t perform more than 8 drop jumps in a set. Otherwise, it may cause muscle injuries. Likewise, there should be a rest period of at least 3 days before repeating it.
Pros Of Vertical Jump Test
The versatility of the vertical jump test to measure various parameters of an athlete’s performance isn’t the only thing that makes it a go-to for coaches. Its other advantages include:
A. Easy To Conduct
Whether you’re using power equipment or conducting the test manually, you don’t need to put in a lot of effort. Moreover, you can easily conduct it for multiple athletes within a short period, especially on busy training days.
A vertec pole won’t cost you thousands of dollars, and you can save even more money by using a wall or any metal pole lying around.
C. Low Risk And Fun
Compared to other tests (like squatting or power cleaning), vertical jump involves low risk as long as the landing technique is suitable for the athlete. Besides, a high-intensity activity like this is always fun for athletes, with everyone trying to better each other!
Like everything else in the world, a vertical jump test isn’t free from disadvantages either.
A basic jump test conducted by a vertec or DIY pole doesn’t factor in the weight of the athlete. Athletes who weigh more will naturally cover less distance with the jump, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is less fit.
Moreover, different types of jumps produce different jump times. So, an athlete training for squat jumping may have to perform a countermovement jump or vice versa due to lack of standardization. And the relatively “low” jump time can leave him disheartened.