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Vertical Jump part I: The component of a vertical jump

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Posted by Anthony M of Anthony Mychal under Fitness & Training on 27 June 2013 at 11:00 PM

Anthony Mychal "There’s a reason one of Michael Jordan’s most infamous dunks is when he took off from the foul line. And that reason is that there simply isn’t anything quite like flying high. The illusion of being suspended in mid-air is a graceful display of neuromuscular coordination, strength, and power. No matter what you’re doing - jumping, flipping, dunking - higher is better."

But how do you realize your potential? Vertical jump programs are aplenty, no doubt. Sadly, most of them are nothing more than a random mish mash of explosive (I dare say, “plyometric,” for reasons which we will get to) exercises without care to your specific needs. 

With the vertical jump, however, your current abilities determine how you should train in order to realize the best results. Before we get to those goodies, let’s dissect the vertical jump itself. 

THE COMPONENTS OF A VERTICAL JUMP

The vertical jump is difficult to conceptualize, but we’re going to give it a face to make it more life-like: Think of a can of paint on one end of a seesaw. The vertical jump is kind of like seeing how high you can get the paint can to fly into the air after pouncing onto the open end of the seesaw. 

Anthony Mychal jumping

Getting the paint can in the air requires applying some kind of force to the empty end. This gives us our first buzz word in force. The idea of force is often thrown out there in the context of jumping, but force alone isn’t enough. A pneumatic piston capable of applying one bajillion units of force won’t throw the can in the air if it’s applied to the open end of the seesaw slowly. Thus, time is equally important consideration. 

Anyone with a pocket protector could then tell us that, in physics terms, power is a measuring of force applied over a discrete period of time. Apply force quickly, and you get a lot of power. In a nutshell, more force is better as long as it remains proportional to the speed at which it is applied. 

So we got force, speed, power, time, and all of these buzzwords, but what does it all mean? And how do they relate to jumping higher?

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPEED JUMPERS AND FORCE JUMPERS

Distinguishing between force and speed is important because it’s the secret sauce behind the individual nature of improving the vertical jump. Some people are naturally more force jumpers, others are naturally more speed jumpers. It’s your job to find out which one you are, and then fill in the gaps to make sure you aren’t developing yourself lopsided.

Speed based jumpers are the prototypical NBA point guard. They’re usually better running one-legged jumpers. Short ground contact is the name of the game, as speed jumpers are very good at absorbing and outputting kinetic energy throughout their connective tissue to exploit the tissue’s elastic properties. 

Forced based jumpers are generally more muscled and better two-legged jumpers. They rely on longer ground contact times and “muscle” the movement more. 

Anthony Mychal Jumping

If you’re totally untrained, increasing either your elastic capabilities, or your force capabilities will likely land you a better vertical jump. But as you trudge forward, there’s a good chance you’re going to have sure up your deficiencies.  

Let’s dissect both force and elasticity to get a better understanding of this whole production.

THE DOWNLOW ON FRICTION AND ELASTICITY CONTINUUM

The relationship between frictional strength and elastic strength also has play within the nervous system with regard to the strength and frequency of nervous impulses sent to the working muscles. 

Elastic: smaller, more frequent

Frictional: larger, less frequent

Putting this into a real movement sense, a primarily elastic task is something like tapping your finger as fast as possible. A primarily frictional task is grinding through pushing a car up a hill or lifting a heavy weight. 

Both essentially play off of each other in some way, shape, or form. Combine them into one comprehensive category and you get static-spring proficiency - the magic behind most explosive sporting movements.

These days, most people aim to improve static-spring proficiency through plyometrics, most of which are mutated versions of Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky's shock training methods. (Click here for a more detailed guide on the relationship between mainstream plyometrics and shock training.) 

So...how do you jump higher?

Getting the story straight on plyometrics doesn’t mean diving into a world of shock jumps, depth jumps, and riding off into the sunset. The reality is that there are two primary components to static-spring proficiency, and where you are now depends on where you need to go. It can’t be a blind process. Find out more in part II - How to improve your vertical jump.

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    Comments

    20130717124558-jennispa

    Thanks for sharing this Anthony - people have always been telling me that because I'm tall I should be able to jump high - never been a strong suit of mine. Now hopefully I can solve that!

    Jane H encouraged this.

    20130507190604-jedders

    I can tell you don't do physics, maths or engineering, or really don't/did not pay attention at school, your seesaw analogy is really flawed as your piston, would be braking Newton's 3rd law of motion and therefor can not exist! As well as this a force applied over a length of time is an impulse, which is not equal to power, it is equal to the rate of change of momentum of the object (as dictated by Newton's 2nd law of motion). then there is this line "In a nutshell, more force is better as long as it remains proportional to the speed at which it is applied." which is different to what you have said in the line before, and this is completely meaningless unit any way, I am completely lost. In your next section you say that, there are 2 types of jumpers, don't really understand what you are saying about the kinetic energy bit, as kinetic energy is a scalar quality and force is a vector, and any way to jump the same height, or distance, your would still use the same amount of energy, relative to your size as any body else as long as all the losses are negotiable, (which they are). The two types of jumpers are using different techniques, and this is dependent on there mass, and the need to generate the impulse, of the correct magnitude required to produce that jump needed. The next section, I would live to see the peer review for that, it will be brilliant, I don't think it will get though, I think that is some thing you have made up. I think you guide may need tweaking will find that Verkhoshansky have said "when an athlete would drop down from a height and experience a “shock” upon landing. This in turn would bring about a forced, involuntary eccentric contraction which was then immediately switched to a concentric contraction as the athlete jumped upward. " which is different to what you have said. I look forward to reading the revised version of this!

    20130623190153-anthonymychal

    James R - uhhh, dude, it's not meant to be a physics posts and most people reading this aren't physicists. My "terminology" might be bunk, but the "meat" is there. I'm not quite sure what your post is aimed at other than nitpicking at this. And I don't even know what kind of peer review you're looking for? The idea that some people use more inherent elastic properties as opposed to frictional properties to jump high? Just measure ground contact times on jumps or how long it takes someone to complete a 1RM squat or something -- it's not astrophysics, my man. As for the other Verkho thing, well, I actually read the article and realized that those are NOT my words. Apparently, the good folks at Tribe Sports edited the original submission. Gahhhh.

    20130507190604-jedders

    well Anthony, let me explain, I have studied, Bio mechanics, how the body moves, and what you have said is complete rubbish, and it is so flawed to level any body leaving school, with a basic education should understand that some of the tings you have said are not possible! So I just corrected you for the benefit of everybody else. As you want to be an expert, I guess that you will understand that the use of the two different techniques are because there are two variables which you can control, to allow you to accelerate off the floor in to the air. These two are the contact time, which is the amount of time that the force is applied to the floor, and the resultant force. Now the product of these variables is an impulse. This impulse is equal to the change in momentum, and in this case velocity, (as your mass is constant). Now for a two footed jumper they have to have a really high impulse as they are not moving, at the very start of the jump, as well as this the force has to be applied in a direction which they want to fly. In the case of a one footed jumper already some momentum, so they do not have to have the same impulse as a two footed jumper as he that momentum to carry him forward, to complete the jump. Its very simple. I really don't understand the difference between the elastic, and frictional properties that you talk about as that makes no sense. You are right it is not astrophysics, as that's the study of the physical and chemical properties, origin, and evolution of the celestial bodies. Its kinematics or newtonian mechanics depending on how you approach the problem, in this case its newtonian mechanics. I can explain the problem using kinematics f you would like?

    20130623190153-anthonymychal

    I don't want to be an expert. I was asked to write. I wrote. What did I say that's impossible? I used analogies. Now your physics ramblings are all well and fine, but they really have nothing to do with the content of the article, you're just rabbling about my incorrect use of physics terms, which is fine. I'm not arguing that there's a difference between unilateral and bilateral jumps. What I'm saying is that some people rely more on strength. Others rely more on elasticity/speed. If you don't understand this, then you've never worked with a team of athletes. (I don't anymore, but I used to.) And you can bet your whistle that those who muscle the movement more WON'T be very good at a running one legged jump, yet they'll often be alright at a bilateral jump. As for the frictional vs. elastic - that's the nervous system.

    20130507190604-jedders

    This is impossible and/or not true; "Getting the paint can in the air requires applying some kind of force to the empty end. This gives us our first buzz word in force. The idea of force is often thrown out there in the context of jumping, but force alone isn’t enough. A pneumatic piston capable of applying one bajillion units of force won’t throw the can in the air if it’s applied to the open end of the seesaw slowly. Thus, time is equally important consideration. Anyone with a pocket protector could then tell us that, in physics terms, power is a measuring of force applied over a discrete period of time. Apply force quickly, and you get a lot of power. In a nutshell, more force is better as long as it remains proportional to the speed at which it is applied." I don't really work with teams of athlete's, as such I just advise them on how to maximise there performance though biomechanics. The people I work with are good such as my Brother under 20 European triathlon champion, (aged 17), my sisters under 17 and under 14 GB water polo team, (aged 14, 12 respectively), my farther ex GB hockey and squash, my mother ex GB springboard diving. As you think that I just work with my family I work with all of the elite athletes from Loughborough University, that's 13 medal winners from a range of 5 sports in 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. The reason larger more muscled persons struggle to gain height for a jump, when using running jump is due there mass. Thus the angle the force must be applied for the person to gain height, is not optimal for that technique. As I am certain you understand.

    Male

    I would just like to add in my thoughts regarding components of a vertical jump. I went through some other readings as well and found out some other facts on the primary components of a vertical jump. First and foremost, it is known that genetics play a role on one's vertical jump ability. Coordination and body movement also has a lot to do with how effective your muscles work together as a group. Let's not forget about leg strength and balance which is the largest factor to vertical jump improvement. Furthermore, core strength and balance as well as upper body strength and balance all play a role in vertical jump improvement. These are just some additional info to the topic. boostverticaljump.com

    20130507190604-jedders

    john that's not true as a person that has trained to improve there jumping will jump 'better' than a person that is completely untrained. This can be see case of high jump and long jump, as on explosive power, speed and co-ordination, very similar to 100m spiriting, but the Jamaicans don't dominate, its really the Europeans. Coordination is the ability to repeatedly execute a sequence of movements smoothly and accurately, that is not really genetic, but will be developed over time and training. I believe the rate of power delivery is more important, which is reliant on synergist muscles. why is upper body strength so important?

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