Basketball-Related Research: The Vertical Jump

September 27th, 2012

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

September 12th, 2012

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 the rest of this entry »

The Purpose of the Off-Season

August 21st, 2012

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 the rest of this entry »

General Preparation Before Basketball-Specific Training

July 16th, 2012

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 the rest of this entry »

Training basketball players

March 4th, 2012

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 the rest of this entry »

Skill Development in Strength Training Workouts

June 14th, 2011

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 the rest of this entry »

Skill Development and Strength & Conditioning Coaches

June 3rd, 2011

Here are my slides from my presentation at the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group conference hosted by Northeastern University today: Read the rest of this entry »

Should young athletes lift weights?

May 19th, 2011

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 the rest of this entry »

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat Progression for Strength Development

January 1st, 2010

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.

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