The vertical jump is a good test for measuring an athlete’s explosiveness.
I know most tests have limitations and everyone has a reason to not like one over the other. I happen to like the vertical jump because it is easy to implement and re-test.
I also have absolutely no scientific reason for the real reason that I like it. Athletes that have “natural talent” seem to do well in this test. It shows the athletes that have some extra deep down. This is the kind of athlete that might not do so great in workouts or might be lazy but they always seem to make plays.
I have worked with a few hockey players that fit into the category of most talented but terrible work ethic. These are the guys that can still hang a good vertical jump number even if it appears they are not trying. They just have something else that makes them so talented. it then comes down to figuring out how to motivate them.
Besides that we can use the test to measure progress. The vertical jump is one of the harder tests to improve over a short period of time. Most athletes will improve their change of direction in as little as 8 weeks. Most athletes do not improve their vertical jump in that time. It just takes a little bit longer.
Improving a vertical jump requires the long approach. Well, I do have one trick for any jump test.
Pick a Spot that is out of Reach
This works well for the vertical and the broad jump. Pick something that is seemingly out of reach. This should give you a few extra inches on the jump.
My proposed idea on this one is that we let our brains almost predetermine how we are going to do. By picking something high up on a wall or on the ceiling we have removed the limits. Someone should do a study on that. Anyways…
It can be especially helpful to try to reach for something up high. This is where the Vertec can be helpful. It allows gives you a goal to reach for.
Use Speed Squats, Especially Front Squats
I was reading a quick summary of Bret Contreras’s thesis and one of the practical applications was that front squats help improve vertical jump (better than hip thrusts)
Front squat are a more vertical squat than back. This makes the force go in a similar direction to the jump.
I like to use 6-10 sets of 1-3 reps at 40-65% for speed squats.
Using speed squats over heavy squats will help you with producing force. This will transfer over to power development. Also, most people do not do speed work but do heavy work. Adding speed in will help improve power development.
Practice Depth Jumps
Depth jumps are also going to help improve force development. Perform a depth jump by stepping off of a box, landing with both feet, and jumping straight up in the air.
This allows the body to absorb and redirect force. Just like speed squats, improving force production will help power development and the vertical jump.
The first tip can be used immediately. Depending on who you are you could potentially add an inch to your jump by just thinking differently.
The other two should be added in over time. Give them 8-12 weeks and re test to see where you are at.