For most people who come here, it’s obvious why you would want to increase your vertical jump: you want to dunk a basketball, get up over the net in volleyball, get your cheerleeding jumps higher or something like that. Those are all obvious enough, but a lot of other people might be wondering “Why bother? I don’t do any of those sports, so why should I train my vertical jump?”
Aside from the obvious, there are lots of other benefits to jump training. Most importantly, training to increase vertical jump will help improve your explosive power, and that’s useful in a wide variety of sports. That explosive power is what gets a sprint out of the blocks faster, lets a lineman explode over the line of scrimmage and lets a skier pull a high-g turn, which is what first got me interested in it.
When I was ski racing, for several years, I went head to head with the same set of guys. Back then, in the 1970s, most people didn’t know much about plyometrics and jump training, but fortunately, I got connected up with the US Men’s Alpine head coach and he made copies of their training routines. That summer and autumn, I did a lot of endurance jumping (jump rope, jumping down a tennis court) and then a lot of plyometrics, doing both lateral and vertical jumps, as well as explosive sprinting, transitioning from endurance to power routines as I got closer to ski season.
I was amazed when the snow came and we got out on the hill. In the early pre-season time trials, guys I had been tied with for years were three and four seconds back! Guys who had always kicked my butt were a second slower than me.
Unfortunately, I pulled my groin just before the start of the real race season, and missed two months of skiing. Even so, I was still surprisingly strong. In previous years, my finishes were typically back about 20th to 30th place, but that year the few races I did go in, I placed 12th, 10th, 2nd and 3rd despite missing most of the season.
I make this long digression just to say that training vertical jump has benefits not just for high jumpers and basketball players. Anyone who participates in a sport where explosive force, rapid reaction and quick acceleration matter can reap the benefits of jump training. It can be a great part of your part of your training regimen if you’re just a little short in the explosive power department.
But if you’re a sprinter who has good top speed but is slow out of the blocks, a bit of time working on vertical jump power might help. If you want to scream on skis and hold an edge at high speed in a tight turn, that explosive power in the legs will be a huge asset. If you want the juice to be able to quickly out accelerate your opponent in ultimate frisbee, building that quickness can give you that extra edge.
So even if pure vertical jump height is not that important in your sport, folding some jump training into your off-season routine could be just the ticket to help you bump it up a notch.
Have fun! Be strong!