When assessing athletic performance, the vertical jump gets a lot of attention, and for good reason.  It is the most direct way to measure power output in athletes.  It answers the question how forcefully can you propel your body through space.  Power is displayed on the field through running, jumping, tackling, and reaction speed.  Performance in the vertical jump is highly predictive of success in all these areas.

When setting up for the vertical jump the athlete should be positioned with their dominant hand directly under the Vertex flags (assuming it is being tested on a Vertex and not a jump mat).  The athlete should stand with their dominant hand directly under the vertex and their feet directly under their hips.  The hips are where most of the power is produced and positioning your feet correctly allows for maximum force transfer into the floor.

Once positioned correctly we can get into the actual jump.  The countermovement portion of the jump is crucial in being able to make the most of the elastic quality of the athlete’s muscles.  Athletes vary in their setup but the basics are the same.  Start the movement standing as tall as possible with the hands overhead, some athletes extend onto their toes but that is a matter of preference.  Following extension, they will bring their hands down rapidly into a partial squat with their hands back by the hips.  The hips should never drop below the knees.  Once in this position the hands are brought back up immediately and forcefully as you go into your jump.  At the height of the jump the body should be fully extended reaching with your dominant hand.  A common error is for athletes to swing their hand which makes it hard to touch the Vertex at the highest point.  To avoid this, focus on extension of the arm reaching rather than swinging it.  The countermovement should be practiced to the point that it feels natural.

Timing and coordination is key when performing a max effort vertical jump.  By teaching the muscles to fire in a more coordinated manor, force production will improve leading to a higher jump.  This is why practice and consistency is so important. The more natural the movement feels the better your performance will be.

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