The vertical jump is a test that directly measures power output by seeing how high you can leap in one explosive movement. It is an important assessment for sports such as basketball, volleyball and even football. Getting started on the vertical jump test at a young age helps aspiring athletes track their progress. It is a great way to monitor your workouts to see if they are effective at improving your power output. Test the vertical jump before seasonal sports training begins, every month or two during the season, then during the off-season.
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This test can be administered using a wall, tape measure and chalk. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends rubbing chalk on your fingertips and standing with your dominant shoulder against the wall. Reach up as high as possible and touch the wall, leaving a chalk mark. Then, without moving, bend your knees and jump up as high as you can. Reach high on the wall with your dominant arm and place a new mark on the wall. Measure the distance between the two points in inches to obtain your vertical jump score.
The average, or 50th-percentile, jump for 13- to 14-year-old boys is about 17 inches, fitness expert Jay Hoffman writes in “Norms for Fitness, Performance and Health.” The 10th to 20th percentiles run from 12.3 to 13.8 inches; 30th to 40th percentile is 15 to 16 inches. Above-average vertical jump score is the 60th to 70th percentile, which ranges from 18 to 19 inches. An excellent rating is 20 to 21 inches, which is the 80 to 90th percentile.
Exercises for Improvement
If you are falling into below-average jump ranges or just want to improve your power output, there are exercises and techniques to incorporate into your workout. The first way is to increase your leg strength. Add weighted squats, lunges and deadlifts to your routine, aiming for three sets of about eight to 12 repetitions each. Another way is to add plyometrics to your routine once or twice per week. Plyometrics help improve your stretch-shortening cycle, or your muscular and neuromuscular contraction speed, conditioning specialist Josh Henkin explains. Incorporate repetitive jumps, hops, and bounds using one and both legs.
Boys just entering their teen years are more prone to injury than adults because skeletal growth is so rapid that muscular strength may not support the rate of growth. Always incorporate a proper dynamic warm-up and static cool-down before and after every workout. Stay properly hydrated. Do not work out similar muscle groups on consecutive days. Give yourself at least two full days off a week. When attempting weightlifting, always have a coach or trainer present to check your form. Never lift heavy weights without a spotter. If you experience persistent aches or pains, or are unaccustomed to exercise, talk to your doctor.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association, Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle
- Norms for Fitness, Performance and Healt; Jay Hoffman
- A Student Athlete's Guide to Success; Trent A. Petrie, Douglas M. Hankes & Eric L. Denson