In almost every sport the ability to jump high has been shown to be a strong indicator of an athlete’s performance capabilities separate from the technical skill inherent in their sport (14). For this reason, the vertical jump test is used to test and monitor athletes’ preparedness in order to gain a better understanding of training progress throughout the phases of the annual plan (1,5,9,15,17). There are several ways of administering the vertical jump, some of the more common methods include the countermovement jump (CMJ) with and without load, the static jump (SJ) with and without load, the approach jump (AJ), as well as the drop jump (DJ). These have all been used both in the laboratory setting as well as in the field by researchers and strength and conditioning (S&C) professionals. It must be clarified that each of these tests differ from the other in both kinetics and kinematics, giving the tester a wide variety of variables to control for. Each of these tests and their respective results can be used to help a S&C coach make decisions when attempting to assess an individual athlete’s preparedness and response to a training plan. For that reason, the purpose of this article is the rationalization for the implementation of a standardized SJ protocol as an assessment metric.
It is the goal of every well-structured training plan to improve the athlete’s physical aptitudes to help them succeed in competition. A main factor in improving many those capabilities is the enhancement of an athlete’s ability to produce force. The literature has shown that the stronger an athlete becomes the faster and more powerful they have the potential to be (2,3,7,13,18). This supports the notion that improving an athlete’s relative maximal strength levels, through movements such as the barbell back squat, will lead to an increase in power production (4,13,18,21). This leads to many coaches using strength movements, such as the back squat, as testing metrics in the form of a one rep max (1RM) to gain greater insight into their athletes’ abilities (13,18). For example, it is frequently suggested that the closer an athlete is to back squatting twice body weight, the greater the potential for success in tasks such as sprinting (13). Unfortunately, the reliability of the 1RM back squat relies on proficient and consistent technique which not only takes time to develop but also can vary from week to week when an athlete’s training age is low. This also holds true for the CMJ test which has been shown to have a wide range of variability due to fatigue, strength levels, previous jump training exposure, and movement limitations which become magnified when external resistance is added to the test (5,16). As with any athletic movement, the SJ test requires some skill to be successful but by limiting the number of variables through the standardization of the SJ protocol, it will allow the SJ test to become potentially the most reliable form of vertical jump testing (7,16,21). Standardization of the static jump tests involves the use of a goniometer to control for the depth of the athlete’s squat (knee angle of 90⁰ between the lateral malleolus and greater trochanter) as well as using a PVC pipe to restrict the use of the arms (positioned across the upper back similarly to a back squat).
The SJ test is not intended to replace strength testing but to allow for greater insight into performance characteristics such as rate of force development (RFD) and peak power (PP) for which the SJ has been shown to correlate the highest among the VJ tests (1,6,11). It is very difficult to obtain RFD without the use of force plates which are expensive and unavailable to most professionals. Peak power has been shown to relate strongly with performance (3,4,18,21) and can be obtained by estimation equations produced using jump height and body mass or system total mass when load is added. There are several estimation equations that have been developed such as the: Lewis, Harman, and Sayer’s (8,16). When compared to power outputs obtained from force plates the static jump version of the Sayer’s equation using SJ heights and body mass has been shown to be the most valid as well as reliable (16,22). The equation is as follows:
Peak Power (W): 60.7 x SJ height (cm) + 45.3 x body mass (kg) – 2055
The unweighted SJ by itself has been shown to be a useful tool but there are additional benefits to adding standardized loads to the test. In order to have a better understanding of an athlete’s ability to produce force against a given resistance there should be a control jump of 0kg with up to 2-4 more successive and incrementally heavier loads to add to the system mass. If the SJ test is only performed at 0kg only a single data point can be used to plot out a power-load curve. When using 2-4 ascending loads you have the ability to see changes in power as well as jump height. As the load increases the stronger athletes will exhibit a diminished drop off in jump height and will produce higher power outputs against resistance (9,14). Given the similarity to the back squat and the reliability and validity of the test the SJ can be used to measure the ability to produce power from phase to phase of the annual training plan. The SJ test is also a relatively low intensity task that only requires 6-12 total repetitions (jumps) compared to the 1RM back squat test which requires work to be performed at a much higher intensity that can result in a longer recovery period (6,18) which may not be appropriate in phases closer to major competitions. Additionally, current research has observed that when the load of a jump increases the ground reaction forces when landing will decrease due to the diminished fall height resultant of lessened gravitational acceleration as well as the athlete’s altered landing strategy (greater yielding effects) (19). This decisively supports the notion that the loaded static jump test is also a relatively low risk assessment metric that is minimally invasive.
Due to the overall stress of the competitive season it is important to monitor the athlete’s ability to produce force in a powerful manner in order to make the best possible informed decisions regarding the training plan as well as provide more holistic feedback to the coaching and athletic training staff (1, 10). After investigating the contemporary literature, it seems that a loaded static jump test is the best option for testing and monitoring athletes’ preparedness/ readiness and ability to produce force without the use of a force plate.
- Body weights are recorded on separate sheet in kilograms
- Jumps are performed on a jump mat or analogues system
- Standardized General Warm Up – 5 min
- 2 “practice” jumps at 50% and 75% perceived max effort with the 0kg PVC pipe only
- Goniometer is employed to ensure repeatable conditions
- 2 max effort jumps with the PVC pipe, 30s rest between jumps
- If multiple people testing they should attempt one jump at a time, allow the next in line to go, and so on. This will allow for optimal rest and keep the group warm instead of having athletes take their first jump 5 minutes after they warm up.
- Step 3 is repeated with the standardized loads of….
- Men: 0kg, 20kg, 40kg (optional 60kg)
- Women: 0kg, 15kg (or 20kg), 30kg (optional 45kg)
- Athletes are instructed to jump without any countermovement (the use of rack safety bars may be beneficial but not required)
- Every jump height is recorded on a standardized sheet.
- If there is a discrepancy of 1 inch or greater (Jump 1 = 20.0, Jump 2 = 22.0) then a 3rd jump should be taken.
- All numbers are recorded but the 2 closest heights are averaged for each condition (0, 22.0, 20.7)
- There should be a minimum of 8 static jumps (including warm-ups recorded)
After all of the data is collected the numbers will be entered into a standardized excel document that will detail the averages, percent drop offs, and peak power.
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Who is Anthony Carney?
Anthony Carney works at the University of Richmond as an assistant strength and conditioning coach training; men’s lacrosse, baseball, soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, and assisting with football. Before joining the Spiders Anthony served as a professional intern for North Carolina State University’s Olympic strength and conditioning staff. Prior to working with the Wolfpack he completed his graduate assistantship at Ball State University with a master’s degree in sports performance and his undergraduate work at Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He is certified through the NSCA (CSCS).
Who is Josh Christovich?
Josh Christovich enters his second full-time season with the Browns, after working on the staff in 2016 as a strength and conditioning intern. He currently serves the staff as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Christovich came to Cleveland after working as a professional strength and conditioning intern at North Carolina State University from 2015-16. Prior to his time with the Wolfpack, he worked towards his master’s degree at East Tennessee State University while serving as an assistant strength and conditioning coach/internship coordinator from 2013-15. He started his career at James Madison University, his alma mater, as a strength and conditioning intern from 2010-13.
A native of Woodbridge, Va., Christovich graduated from James Madison with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a concentration in exercise science. He also went on to earn his master’s in exercise physiology and sport performance from East Tennessee State.
Josh Christovich’s Coaching Background:
2010-13 James Madison University, strength and conditioning intern
2013-15 East Tennessee State University, assistant strength and conditioning coach/intern coordinator
2015-16 North Carolina State University, professional strength and conditioning intern
2016 Cleveland Browns, strength and conditioning intern
2017- Cleveland Browns, strength and conditioning assistant
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