BAM Testing is excited to bring you the first of many articles over the next several weeks that tap into the knowledge and expertise from our partners and affiliates. Posts will cover a variety of important issues; training, nutrition, and so much more.
We hope you enjoy the first posting from The Training Series by Jace Derwin, a strength coach with Volt Athletics.
If you’ve recently participated in a BAM testing combine, chances are you completed a vertical jump test. Across all sports, the vertical jump may be the most common and most translatable test to sport performance. If we break down the mechanics behind jumping, we see that it is a combination of explosive leg and hip extension against the resistance of an athlete’s body weight. Regardless if you are a baseball, basketball, football, or a soccer player, explosive leg and hip action is a viable and useful skill in competition.
Why is the vertical jump such a dynamic talent to possess?
The answer is POWER. Power is simply the result of two variables, force over time. A more powerful athlete will be stronger in a shorter amount of time. Athletes who apply more force through their legs at a faster rate will result in higher vertical jumps.
To improve your vertical jump, you must get stronger through your jumping mechanics, and increase the speed at which those mechanics take place.
So, how do we accomplish this?
LEARN HOW TO JUMP. Jumping, in and of itself, is a skill to be learned and refined. All the strength training in the world will have a limited effect on someone who has lousy jump mechanics. One effective method of improving jump technique is through plyometric training. Plyometrics, or “plyos” for short, are a type of exercise designed to produce fast and powerful movements. Plyometrics are a great way to learn how to control and propel the body against its own resistance. Your primary goal should be to initiate as much force through the ground while maintaining a fast and explosive leg drive.
Work on jumping from different starting positions (such as a small bend in the knee vs. a full squat) and move towards jumping following a drop from elevation (called a “depth jump”). As you do this you will build the timing between the hips and the legs, which is critical to being as explosive as possible. In addition to improving jump mechanics, the next critical piece to maximizing your vertical jump is to develop strength in the hips and legs.
So how do we train to that effect?
The answer is in the weight room. Look for my next installment where I will write on what kinds of strength training are most effective in building a foundation for your athleticism. Until then, get out there and start jumping!
- Jace Derwin, CSCS Strength Coach, Volt Athletics
Volt enables sports teams worldwide to easily and affordably implement elite-level strength and conditioning programs using innovative web-based tools. Volt’s sport-specific programs are individualized for each athlete, customized to each team’s training calendar, and optimized for a team training environment. Volt offers the most affordable and effective training system available for competitive athletes today. Volt is offering a free 30 day trial.