Sunday, March 31, 2013

10 Key Vertical Jump Performance Qualities

10 Key Performance Qualities

With that out of the way lets now quickly go over 10 key qualities that youll be using and focusing on in the programs.  Keep in mind that none of these qualities or training methods exist completely in isolation yet they are all important..

1.   Control and stability- Obviously before you can develop maximum power, strength, speed, or anything else, - you need to be able to stabilize and control your own bodyweight and control minimal loads. Control and stability is related
to coordination and learning. When it comes to learning a new skill or movement, this should be the initial focus. If youve never done a particular movement before its best to start off light and slow so that you can learn the correct performance. Once youve learned incorrect movement patterns those bad habits can be hard to break so its essential you learn how to do each movement correctly.  After you have enough experience you can then move on.

2.   General Strength- The goal here is to strengthen the muscles involved by adding additional loading.  An emphasis should be placed on correct technique with less emphasis on the load.

3.   Range of Motion- Range of motion is also known as flexibility.  You need to have a certain degree of flexibility in order to prevent injury and optimally carry out the movements in your sport. In the vertical jump, if your ankles and calves are so tight that you cant achieve the desired range of motion then you risk serious injury.  On the other hand, its not necessary and could in fact be detrimental to have the flexibility of a contortionist.  It is essential that a minimal amount of flexibility be maintained yet flexibility training wont do miracles.

4.   Maximum Strength- Here the focus is on strengthening the musculature by lifting maximum loads. This greatly enhances a muscle’s maximum force output. If you were to attempt a maximum strength phase without first developing basic conditioning there would be a high risk of injury.  To illustrate this, consider an exercise such as the squat.  If youve never executed a squat before and you immediately go in the gym and try to establish a 1-rep maximum (max out), there’s a chance youll injure yourself.  A better way is to learn the correct movement performance using low loads and more repetitions (general strength and stability).  Pay attention to form and work the correct muscle groups.  After youve done this, you can gradually begin to add additional loading and advance towards maximal strength training.

5.   Maximum Power- Power (force x velocity) is a combination of strength and speed.  Virtually any type of training can qualify as power training as long as there is some load that must be moved and you “focus” on moving fast.  You can train for power using your bodyweight, your bodyweight with an additional load, lifting light loads, or attempting to move a heavy load quickly.  Most of the training methods utilized in this manual will either directly or indirectly impact
power.  Maximum strength training, due to its inherent slower movement speeds, may not produce a lot of power during its execution, yet it will boost your strength levels and that will enable you to put out more force which translates into more power.

6.   Starting Strength- Starting strength is the ability to instantly apply lots of force at the very beginning of a movement.  Try this.  Sit back in a chair in a “ready to jump” position.  Make sure your butt is touching the chair.  Now without rocking backward simply jump up from this dead stop position.  This is an example of starting strength and also involves rate of force development.  Just like any other strength quality, it can be trained and improved.  Your muscles can be trained to fire quicker.

7.   Force Absorption Training- This is the ability to absorb and stabilize high eccentric or negative forces and is the first step in developing great plyometric power.  In the vertical jump, the eccentric forces are the forces that are created as you execute a quick countermovement or bend down before you jump.  You can also see this when you run-up into a jump stop and have to stop or reverse direction in order to transform your horizontal mass into a vertical movement. These movements create a lot of force as the negative movement (or eccentric) causes your muscles and tendons to stretch, which creates a gathering of energy. The forces you gather are then stored in the tendons and muscles, causing your tendons to act like a stretched rubber band.  In order to excel at this you first need good levels of basic strength along with muscular control.  Being able to absorb energy is a pre-requisite to the next step, which is reactive training.

8.   Reactive training- This is the result of being able to “release lots of stored energy after you absorb it. Reactive training is also known as plyometric training, reversal strength, elastic strength, and static-spring proficiency.  They all essentially mean the same thing.   Reactive training can account for a significant part of performance in any athletic endeavor.  In the earlier example when you sat down and paused on the chair before jumping, were you able to jump as high as you normally do?  Probably not.  That is because you would naturally reflexively execute a quick ¼ squat, or countermovement, just prior to your jump.  The difference between your vertical jump with and without a countermovement is how much additional force you’re getting from reactive contributions.  This strength quality is also highly trainable.  Certain drills allow you to increase both energy absorption ability and reactive ability.  Together they make up plyometric training.  This topic will be explained in more detail later.

9.   Short response reactive training- This type of training differs from regular reactive training in that the switch from down” to up” happens a lot quicker and is nearly completely reflexive with little voluntary input.  For example, look at the difference in the time you spend changing direction from down to up in a vertical jump done with a running start vs the time your foot spends on the ground during
a max speed sprint. Which one occurs quicker?  The quicker the movement, the shorter the response time, and the greater the reflexive force contributions tend to be. Sprinting is the ultimate display of reactive or plyometric training.  The movements occur too quick for much voluntary force output orstrain. In much the same way, executing a uni-lateral one legged jump after a run-up also
qualifies as a short response reactive activity because the movement occurs much faster then a regular vertical jump.  Certain drills are better for this type of training.

10. Speed of movement/Quickness/Velocity- When you increase the force and power behind your movements and then increase the absolute speed at which you move, you get the best of both worlds.  The qualities above will mainly increase thehorsepower behind your movements.  When you combine that with an increase in absolute speed your results will be far superior.  How fast can you turn your system off and on?  How fast can you move your limbs without regard to force?  Can you catch flies with your bare hands?  How many times can you tap your feet in place in 5 seconds? Fortunately, you really dont have to be all that “fast” to improve your vertical jump or even your running speed.  There is a blend of physical qualities needed for optimal performance and typically strength and power output per pound of bodyweight are more important then the ability to actually move your limbs fast.  However, improving speed of movement never hurts.  It can be done by lots of practice being fast and developing an optimal
mind to muscle link, better learning to control your muscles.


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