Basketball-Related Research: The Vertical Jump

I frequently see trainers touting the Vertimax as the solution to all vertical jump problems. There are two issues:

McClenton et al. (2008) compared depth-jump training to Vertimax training and found:

Depth jump training twice weekly for 6 weeks is more beneficial than VertiMax jump training for increasing vertical jump height. Strength professionals should focus on depth jump exercises in the short term over commercially available devices to improve vertical jump performance.

McClenton, L.S., Brown, L.E., Coburn, J.W., & Kersey, R.D. (2008). The effect of short-term VertiMax vs. depth jump training on vertical jump performance. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 22 (2), 321-325.

Carlson et al. (2009) compared strength training, plyometric training, and jump training with a VertiMax and found:

The findings of this study demonstrate that there is no difference in vertical jump among strength training, plyometric training, and jump training over a 6-week timeframe.

Carlson, K., Magnusen, M. & Walters, P. (2009). Effect of Various Training Modalities on Vertical Jump. Research in Sports Medicine: An International Journal, 17 (2), 84-94.

One issue with the second study is the use of plyometrics, as that has become a colloquial term that has lost meaning (Flanagan & Comyns, 2008). Many plyometrics exercises use the slow stretch-shortening cycle (as would VertiMax) with ground contact time longer than 250 milliseconds and large angular displacements  (Schmidtbleicher, 1994), whereas depth jumps utilize a fast stretch-shortening cycle with ground contacts between 100-250 ms and small angular displacements (Schmidtbleicher, 1994). The above results would suggest the need for fast SSC training to improve vertical-jump performance over a six-week training cycle.

This does not mean that the VertiMax is without use or a bad product. However, plyometric boxes are a much less expensive purchase that can elicit the same or improved benefits, at least over a six-week training program.

Secondly, and of primary importance, McGill et al. (2012) found that the broad jump predicted basketball performance measures better than the vertical jump in college basketball players:

Dependent variables of performance indicators (such as games and minutes played, points scored, assists, rebounds, steal, and blocks) and injury reports were tracked for the subsequent 2 years. Results showed that better performance was linked with having a stiffer torso, more mobile hips, weaker left grip strength, and a longer standing long jump, to name a few.

McGill, S.M., Andersen, J.T., & Horne, A.D. (2012). Predicting Performance and Injury Resilience From Movement Quality and Fitness Scores in a Basketball Team Over 2 Years. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26 (7), 1731–1739.

The implication of the second study is to suggest that vertical-jump performance is not of primary performance to basketball performance, and other qualities such as change-of-direction speed, balance, and acceleration likely have more to do with on-court performance.

Flanagan, E.P. & Comyns, T.M. (2008). The use of contact time and the reactive strength index to optimise fast stretch-shortening cycle training. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 30, 33-38.
Schmidtbleicher, D. (1994). Training for power events. In P. Komi (Ed.), Strength and Power in Sport (381-395)London: Blackwell Scientific.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice

Offseason Training Improvement

Due to my schedule and the team’s schedule, we did our pre-regular season testing this week. These tests measured improvement since our baseline testing, roughly five weeks ago. In addition to basketball workouts, the team has trained four times per week: two times per week in the weight room and two days of conditioning. No workout has taken more than one hour from start to finish. If we had more equipment, the workouts would be closer to 45 minutes, but we are limited by the number of plyo boxes, medicine balls, squat racks, etc. We have had only one workout that included more than a mile of running in total volume; almost every conditioning workout was between 1200m-1600m of sprints, with no effort longer than a 100m sprint. Read more

The Purpose of the Off-Season

An assistant coach called and told me that the head coach met with the staff and insisted that the players should “hate September.” I don’t understand this mentality. Why do coaches want players to hate basketball and training? How do we encourage life-long physical activity if the goal is to make our youth hate training?  Read more

General Preparation Before Basketball-Specific Training

Basketball-specific or sport-specific training is the rage. Trainers and strength coaches market their training as basketball-specific, as the rash to specialize early hastens the demand for sport-specific training. Read more

Training basketball players

Basketball tends to be a traditionalist sport: players are coached and trained in the same way as their predecessors without regard for advancements in science.  Read more

Skill Development in Strength Training Workouts

Here is some video of the introduction to my talk on “Skill Development and the Strength & Conditioning Coach” from the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group conference: Read more

Skill Development and Strength & Conditioning Coaches

Here are my slides from my presentation at the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group conference hosted by Northeastern University today: Read more

Should young athletes lift weights?

Originally published in Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletters 4.40 and Brian McCormick’s Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletters, Volume 4.

I generally refuse to train 8-year-olds. When parents call about a young player, I encourage the parents to invest in gymnastics or martial arts because of the benefits in terms of general strength and coordination as well as kinesthetic awareness. Read more

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat Progression for Strength Development

The Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat is an alternative (replacement) for the back squat in strength programs for basketball players. Here is Mike Boyle illustrating a teaching progression for the RFESS:

  1. Spilt Squat
  2. RFESS starting at the bottom and pushing up.
  3. RFESS loaded with dumbbells and starting at the bottom.
  4. RFESS loaded like a back squat.

Here is the RFESS:

H2G Vol.4 Front CoverOriginally published in Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletter, Volume 4.

For similar content, subscribe to the free weekly Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletter.

  • What Is A Playmaker?

    Who decided that a point guard has to be small? More importantly, what is a point guard? We expect a point guard to be a leader and have a high basketball I.Q. Why don’t we expect or challenge all players to develop this game awareness? Why rely on only one player? Read more →
  • The PBDL Concept

    English soccer academies wait until players are 11 to play full 11v11 soccer; in Italy, youth basketball players participate in skill-oriented clinics at 6-years-old, but start competitive games at 12. In the United States, kids play 5v5 full court games and compete for national championships when they are 8-years-old.

    Read more →

  • Starting A PBDL

    The PBDL emphasizes learning and development. Presently, players and parents have numerous recreation options - leagues based on fun and equal participation, typically for beginners - and numerous competitive opportunities - teams focused on strategy, game preparation and winning. There are few true development leagues - until now.

    Read more →