What does jumping ability tell us about a persons athletic potential?

Jumping is a component of many elite sports including basketball, AFL, rugby league, rugby union and soccer just to name a few. For many years sports scientists and physiotherapists have used jumping ability as part of talent identification and performance tracking guidelines. Perhaps the most famous example of this is seen in the American National football league (NFL) combine where the vertical and broad jump are used as key measures for selection in professional teams.

Recent research has demonstrated that its not simply how high or long an individual can jump that best predicts there performance in a sport, rather the speed at which they can develop force is seen as the most important variable. There is no question the outcome of the jump is still a consideration, however just because an individual can jump high doesn’t necessarily mean they are jumping efficiently. If for example we have two individuals who can jump 1.5m in the air, which is the better jumper? Excluding biomechanical evaluation, sports scientists look for the rate of force development as a key measurable variable to help predict athletic ability.

To accurately measure this, athletes perform the desired jumping movement on a force platform so these measurements can be taken. However, confusion exists in the literature as to how to best extract these values from the data. Clearly a proven and reliable method needs to be reach in the sports science community to ensure accurate and reliable research is conducted.

See the below article with Physio Alexander Eagles, who was working here and the lead author, published in the June 2015 edition of Sports Medicine for more information.

Current Methodologies and Implications of Phase Identification of the Vertical Jump: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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