Vertical Leap & Broad Jump – Why, how, and what you can do to improve

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May 3, 2016
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Vertical Leap & Broad Jump – Why, how, and what you can do to improve

blast motion vertical leap eric knight

As a young athlete I have two very vivid memories of vertical leap and broad jump potential – one desperate to dunk, the other more of a horizontal launch into a different stratosphere.

What are those?

Walking the halls after a swim practice, I noticed an older athlete wearing a ridiculous pair of shoes with a platform attached to the front.  Like a fictional Roy McAvoy grasping for hope, he had resorted to this Rube Goldberg contraption as a solution for his earth bound vertical.  And even at 15, in the presence of an athlete I looked up to, I quickly realized desperation as the antithesis of success.

Where’d he go?  Where’d whoo goooo?

Flash forward a month later, and I was a participant in a 50 freestyle race with Mike Norment (now an excellent coach in his own right).  I write participant, because to say I raced him would be a fantastical misnomer.  In my first Senior level competition, my hopes were dashed as the officials took down the backstroke flags because Michael had inadvertently touched them on his dive that morning.  Whether that fact is embellished in mind – or not – that’s how I recall it.  The explosiveness in his start left me in awe and out of any race.

Years later

My vertical leap (prodigious as it once was) now consists of momentarily levitating to reach the espresso on top of the refrigerator and I’ve concluded that while much can be taught, equipment can be a fallacy and not everything that stands out is significant but is almost always relevant.  And as a reformed, former coach of athletes far better than I and explorer of human potential far greater than my limited outcomes – vertical leap and broad jump are tremendous indicators of potential in explosive, powerful performance.

Secret to Seahawk Success?

In a great article, Rob Staton breaks down the Seattle Seahawks selections of offensive linemen by noticing and interesting trend in their broad jump data,

Since 2012, the Seahawks have not drafted a single offensive lineman that has jumped less than a nine-foot broad jump:

Mark Glowinski — 9-5
Terry Poole — 9-5
Kristjan Sokoli — 9-11
Justin Britt — 9-3
Garrett Scott — 9-7
Ryan Seymour — 9-2
Jared Smith — 9-7
J.R. Sweezy — 9-5


But I swim?  Why is the vertical leap and broad jump relevant to me?  Explosiveness is an indicator of anaerobic potential in any sport.  First and foremost you are an athlete – then you are a swimmer, tennis star, goalkeeping legend, etc.

How you can improve your Vertical Leap & Broad Jump

Get your baseline and note that while Eric is 80 lbs and a decade of experience short of playing for the Seahawks, but his athletic starting point is nearly NFL ready!

7-10 days to learn the skill

Human performance has always intrigued me and IKKOS technology is at the cutting edge of motor learning.  Get a hold of Sean on twitter and see for yourself (pun intended).  Mirror neurons are real.  Watch and learn my good friends.  Watch and learn.

14-21 days to get stronger

Once you know how, it will take you time to develop strength throughout the movement(s).  Over at Stack, Joseph Potts has some great ideas to improve your power.

4-6 weeks to ‘automate’

Stagger your workload and allow proper recovery between sessions to maximize your long term consistency with your new skill and power set.

But please stay away from those god awful shoes –


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