Ladder of Progression to improveVertical Jump
A high vertical jump is an important aspect of many sports. Athletes want to dunk better, block better, receive better, spike the ball better, and more than that, so they look towards training to improvevertical jump.
Thing is, a lot of different people jump into certain types of training too quickly or give up on certain training because they are not sure about its benefit or the results it will bring and so jump around from one vertical jump training to another without understanding what needs to be done. This article will provide you with a general ladder of progression that most athletes go through from the beginner stages to the advanced stages.
VERTICAL JUMP AND POWERFirst though, it is important to understand the vertical jump and how to manipulate its parameters so you can increase it.
In simple terms, the vertical jump is a measurement of raw power. High power translates into a high vertical jump, while a low power translates into a low vertical jump.
Power is defined as Force x Velocity. What this means is that high power is the product of applying a lot of force in as little time as possible. Force itself is a product of mass and acceleration. If you movea heavier mass, or accelerate it more rapidly, you will increase force, and thus increase power.
If you compare this to getting stronger, you will notice the similarities. When you increase your maximum strength, you will movea higher mass at the same speed, or will at least movethe mass you started with at a higher speed, thus increasing force. For the purpose of simplicity, we will just refer to force as maximum strength.
LADDER of PROGRESSIONIf you consider the factors involved in increasing a vertical jump, then you will see that there is a simple yet specific ladder of progression for all trainees.
Using the previous simple equation, you should be able to tell that the maximum force you can put out is going to be the main determining factor in how much power you can generate, and that's for 2 reasons:
1. Maximum strength is the foundation necessary for all other strength qualities such as speed, relative strength, and power.
2. It is much easier to increase force than it is to increase velocity as there is much more of a genetic limitation on it than on strength. It's good to know though that the speed of a movement is highly correlated to force due to what is also known as speed-strength, which is the ability to produce the greatest force possible in the shortest time possible.
This makes it so that the backbone of vertical jump training is strength. Most beginners lack a strength base, and so the first thing that they should focus on is getting stronger in the weight room.
This is not enough though. Improving your raw strength will surely improve your power; however, your power will go up substantially more if you focus on methods that will also allow you to use a bigger part of this strength in a shorter amount of time, which leads us to the rate of force development (ROFD). To further explain, if you are able to squat 400lbs, but can only use 150lbs in the 0.2 seconds it takes to perform a vertical jump, then you won't jump as high as someone who can squat 300lbs but can use 225lbs.
This would now put you more at the intermediate level, and it is now time to focus more on reactive training or plyometric training. Increasing your reactive strength will bridge the gap between force and explosive power. Thing is though, if you do not have the general strength to generate a lot of power, you won't be able to take good advantage of your reactive strength, making general strength almost a pre-requisite to plyometric training.
It is important to note as well that at this level, things get a bit tougher to figure out. Some athletes can have decently developed reactive strength due to the nature of their sport, while others have an underdeveloped one. The former will then require more balanced training, while the latter will require a higher focus on reactive training. For both types though, you should keep focus on ROFD training to make sure you are able to better use whatever strength you are building.
With advanced levels of maximal strength, ROFD, and reactive strength, you will finally be at an advanced level and if you have low levels of body fat, you will most likely have a vertical jump higher than 32". At that point, your program will not have a specific focus, and instead, will cover all the factors involved.
CONCLUSIONA lot of vertical jump trainees are always ready to jump into different types of training that might be too advanced for them without understanding what's involved in training to improvevertical jump, which leads to both frustrations and possible injuries. Understanding the factors that come into play with generating the power required for a high vertical jump, and understanding the natural progression that should occur can help you figure out what your training should look like in order to achieve your goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJoel Jamieson is a strength and conditioning coach from Canada. He runs an excellent vertical jump website with plenty of good solid information which you can find at improveVertical Jump.
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Plyometrics Part 1 - Part 1 of our 2 part plyometrics article covers some of the theory involved in this type of jump training.
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