An athlete’s jumping ability is a key 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). Their selectors use the vertical and broad jump as key measures for athlete selection in professional teams.
What is the most accurate measure of jumping ability?
Recent research has demonstrated that its not simply how high or long an individual can jump that best predicts their performance in a sport. Alternatively, it is the speed at which they can develop force that is seen as the more important variable. There is no question that 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, how do you determine which is the better jumper?
Excluding biomechanical evaluation, sports scientists look for the rate of force development as a key variable when predicting 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 taught in the sports science community. This will help to ensure that accurate and reliable research is conducted across all sports.
One of our previous employees, Alexander Eagles (Physiotherapist) explores this idea in more depth in his article below. Published in the June 2015 edition of Sports Medicine.