How important is explosive strength or power?
On-field performance is typically dictated by speed and explosiveness. The ability to outrun a defender for a touchdown in football, jumping high enough to grab a crucial rebound or block in basketball, or a keeper diving for a fingertip save in soccer. Strength sets the foundation, yes, but there must be a transition from strength into explosiveness.
Jump training is all the rage in sports like basketball and volleyball. Rightfully so, since these are “jumping” sports. Just because you don’t see baseball players jumping in sport does not mean that an improved vertical will not help them be better athletes. Likewise, switching up the kind of jumping for the basketball and volleyball players can help fill in the missing piece to get past a plateau, as well as help reduce the stress seen at the ankles and knees of these athletes.
Building off of the first post in this vertical series (5 Ways to Improve Your Vertical), we will be covering the importance of jump variations we recommend our athletes do more.
More on Jump Training
Power equals force x velocity (P=F*V). Last week, we discussed how getting stronger can improve the force side of this power equation. This week, we will be covering jump variations that are still more force production dominant.
What do I mean by force dominant? It’s essentially a jump that does not utilize the ‘stretch reflex’ or ‘stretch shortening cycle’. If I can’t use my tendons to create an elastic reflex, I am relying strictly on contraction of my muscles to produce enough force to create my jump. The importance of this is similar to the reason why getting stronger improves your jump.
Non-counter movement jumps are far more specific than any weightlifting exercise. These variations require a much longer rate of contraction or impulse in comparison to true plyometrics. Exercises like the seated jump, paused squat jump, and trap bar jump are examples of different jump variations that don’t require a load or countermovement where the athlete can utilize the stretch shortening cycle, thus making these jumps much more difficult.
Try it yourself. Just as in week one where you performed one jump without an arm swing and one with an arm swing and load. Try performing a normal vertical jump and then compare that to a squat jump where you pause in the loaded position for 3-5 seconds before jumping. You will surely see and feel the difference. Most athletes will be able to jump at least 5 inches higher when utilizing a countermovement before jumping.
With that being said, remember there are two sides of this power equation. We don’t recommend doing just one kind of jump. You would want to perform non-countermovement jumps as well as plyometrics (more on these next week) to get the most out of your training. It is crucial as a young athlete to develop the muscular system thoroughly before implementing a high volume of advanced plyometrics. Traditional weightlifting and a higher volume of force dominant jumps will do just that.
Seated Vertical Jump
- Place a box or bench behind you. This box should be about knee height.
- Squat down to the box where you will pause letting your weight completely rest on the box.
- Drive feet through the floor and jump up as high as you can either landing back on the ground or onto a higher box.
If you want to be the best athlete you can be, jump training is crucial. Jumping can improve your strength and speed and make you an overall better athlete that can dominate on the field or court. Individualization when it comes to programming what kind of jumps should be prescribed, and to a certain extent can be the limiting factor in your progress. Perform too much of the same kind of training and you are surely on your way to a plateau in progress or aches and pains from overuse. Mix up the types of jumping you’re doing and maximize your explosive potential!