Vertical Jump Testing
The vertical jump is tested in almost every gym and used to gauge the explosive or elastic power of an athlete. It is used in many team sports as it is quick and easy to implement with large numbers of athletes. Most of the time the data collected is simply a measure of how high you can jump which is compared to results from follow up testing but this simple test can be give you so much more information about where to orientate your training.
I like to use the vertical jump as a testing method for untrained or beginner athletes who are not yet proficient in the squat, power snatch, or power clean. It is a safe test as it doesn’t require any technical elements like the barbell lifts mentioned above. You simply stand and jump as high as possible into the air.
When testing these young athletes I like to get information from two types of vertical jumps, one paused and the other a standard countermovement jump. By doing this I get an idea of the athlete’s strength levels and also their elastic ability. It also helps direct what type of program will be best suited for a particular athlete. For example if an athlete has a poor paused vertical jump but a good countermovement jump this tells me that this athlete needs to work on increasing his maximal strength. The difference between the two jumps will dictate the ratio of time spent working on strength or power development. In the above example this athlete may spend 3-4 weeks working on strength and 1-2 weeks working on power development.
Another beneficial use for the vertical jump is to test recovery in your athletes. Once you have values for their maximal vertical jump you are able to compare this to future results that you obtain at the beginning of a training session. If an athlete comes in and has a severe drop in his vertical jump score, this suggests that he has not yet fully recovered from his previous session and may need to cut back on the volume of the session planned for that day. Again this is a simple and quick way to monitor the recovery of your athletes and to get the most out of each session.
An athlete with a good vertical jump is typically quite fast and you will find they also have good agility in most cases. They tend to have more fast-twitch fibres and are athletic. They can move well and know where their body is and how to adjust to situations quickly.
Athletes in the NFL would be close to, if not the best physically, in the world. The vertical jump is one of the tests they use in the combine. Although there is a lot of controversy about the combine and the tests performed it is still good to look at results as these athletes are very good. You can check out the results from the combine here:
As I always say, when testing you have to know what you want to get out of the test and what you will do with the data. If you just collect data and don’t implement anything from it I feel as though it is a waste of time and you shouldn’t bother testing. The vertical jump is a simple test and can be very effective if you know what you are looking for.