• Assessing the Vertical Jump with Your Athletes
    The vertical jump is often used as a performance test to assess athletic ability, identify athletes’ strengths and weaknesses, and measure the effectiveness of training programs. This article, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, investigates how rapid force development leads to a better counter-movement jump.
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  • Vertical JumpIntroducing the Vertical JumpThe vertical jump is often used as a performance test to assess athletic ability, identify athletes’ strengths and weaknesses, and measure the effectiveness of training programs. Vertical jump performance is determined by a complex interaction among several factors, including the maximal force developed by the musculature involved, rate at which force can be developed, and the neuromuscular coordination of the upper and lower body segments.

    Vertical jump (VJ) height has been widely used by sports performance professionals as an alternative to directly assess maximal force and power. There has been some research that suggests that strength qualities such as rate of force development (RFD), impulse, and explosive strength are better predictors of athletic ability and performance when compared to VJ. In the context of the present study, RFD can be defined as the development of maximal force in minimal time and is typically used as an index of explosive strength.

    Due to the discrepancies of predictors of athletic ability and performance, it is the purpose of this study to examine the relationship between RFD and VJ performance during a countermovement jump (CMJ).


    The Vertical Jump in a Study ScenarioThis study used 23 physically active men. The recreationally trained men who participated in the study were not experienced in explosive exercise, none were resistance trained, and none of the subjects participated in regular resistance training before the data collection.

    The test session consisted of a warm-up that included a series of cycle ergometer and dynamic range of movement activities before the subjects randomly completed three countermovement jumps (CMJ) and three squat jumps (SJ). During the CMJ, the subjects utilized the stretch-shortening cycle and incorporated arm swings into the movement to achieve a maximal jump and reach to record VJ height. During the squat jumps, subjects started from a stationary semi-squat position with both hands held on the hips throughout the full range of motion. During each of these trials force variables were analyzed.

    The force variables that were looked at were peak force (PF), time-to-peak force (TPF), peak rate of force development (PRFD), average rate of force development (ARFD), peak power (PP), and average power (AP). Vertical jump displacement (VJD) was only recorded for the CMJ (to determine differences between standing reach and jump reach height).

    Study Results
    The results of this study revealed that a significant relationship between VJD and PRFD can be observed for CMJ. There were also significant relationships between VJD, PP, and AP during the CMJs. The TPF during the CMJ was significantly related to PRFD and ARFD. The PRFD was also significantly related to PF, ARFD, and AP for both VJ methods (CMJ and SJ).

    The results of this study reveal that VJD measured by way of CMJ is primarily determined by PRFD (which was calculated from the maximum force that occurred over the first derivative of the force-time curve). It should be noted that the results of this study are in contrast with other research that reported a poor relationship between PRFD and VJ performance. Due to the fact that the subjects used within the study were explosively untrained, the PRFD exceeded expectations. 

    According to this study, strength and conditioning coaches should consider RFD as a primary determinant of performance in addition to leg power from VJD. The outcome of the study indicated that individuals that produce greater PRFD will have greater VJ performance. Coaches should use training methods that emphasize explosive techniques that are designed to improve PRFD, and this should in turn lead to improvements in VJ and ultimately, improved dynamic sports performance.
  • Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

    About the Author:

    NSCA Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

    The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research is the NSCA's scientific journal. This monthly publication prints original research information important to strength and conditioning practitioners. Many educational institutions, researchers, and professionals retain this journal as a valuable reference.

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  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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