No matter where you look, you will no doubt find someone who has an opinion on vertical jump training and the various programs available to serious athletes and casual exercisers alike.
However, athletic trainers – the cornerstones of all competitive athletic endeavors – are by far one of the most reliable and knowledgeable sources for educated opinions that you can hope to find.
What is a Trainer and Where Can I Find One?
An athletic trainer is someone who has gone to school to learn how to do a broad spectrum of sports medicine related things, such as taping ankles, operating ultrasound and Stim machines, and helping athletes rehabilitate following an injury.
They are different from, say, a rehab specialist or an orthopedic surgeon in the fact that they typically serve as the all-around medical specialist for a school’s sports teams – they may travel with the teams and often they also teach sports medicine classes as well.
No matter what capacity they function in, though, chances are that you can track one down at a high school or college campus near to you.
Everyone is an “Expert”
Coaches, parents, peers – even bystanders and couch potatoes – will probably have their own thoughts on the benefits or downsides to jump training, but their opinions are probably just that: an opinion rather than a well-researched point of view.
When you want direct, focused, and medically-backed information, go straight to the source and talk to a trainer in your area to find out their thoughts on a jump training program that will fit your needs.
Here is what Mike Graf, a well-known trainer from Montana, USA had to say about Jump training:
Q: Are you familiar with vertical jump training programs?
A: Somewhat. Over the years I have seen trends in jump programs come and go, but never anything that has ben able to be integrated seamlessly into a high school program – it would really be great if that could happen, though.
Mostly our athletes have to go to a local gym to receive that kind of focused training, but at least there is somewhere in our area where they can do that.
Q: What do you think they have to offer athletes?
A: Aside from the obvious benefits of increased jumping height and speed, there is also the added benefit of education. A good jump program would teach athletes proper TECHNIQUE, which would lay a strong foundation for everything they do in years to come.
If athletes could learn form the beginning how to jump correctly, it would allow them to reach their vertical jump goals much faster.
Q: Are there any outstanding risks involved? What are the potential benefits to taking on a jump training program – both direct benefits and side benefits?
A: The main risk is definitely injury – especially if incorrect technique is being used. The benefits again are increased vertical height and speed, as well as overall increased athletic performance.
A definite side benefit would be confidence, which would likely translate to increased competition within the team and increased competitive edge against opponents.
Q: As far as jump programs for girls versus programs for boys, do you see any need for girls to train differently than a male the same age/athletic ability level would train? Why or why not?
A: I am not totally sure. Studies show girls have higher incidences of improper jumping mechanics (mostly due to anatomical differences between girls and boys – hip widening, etc.).
So, I guess more of a focus, such as the frequency and consistency of targeted drills, could be placed on girls to execute proper jumping technique.
Q: Does vertical jump training benefit only sports where jumping plays a huge role – such as volleyball or basketball – or can athletes of other sports benefit from it as well? If so, how?
A: There is no doubt in my mind that ALL athletes can benefit from jump training, especially when it comes to preventing injuries –both those occurring from jumping and those not.
Whether it is a side benefit that is mental or emotional in nature, or an actual physical benefit – like a stronger core and more agility – there are countless reasons why athletes (and school programs as a whole) should consider jump training a vital part of the athletic process.