Vertical jumping ability is of importance for good performance in sports such as basketball and volleyball. Coaches are in need of exercises that consume only little time and still help to improve their players' jumping ability, without involving a high risk of injury. Drop jumping is assumed to satisfy these requirements. This assumption is supported by a review of results of training studies. However, it appears that regular jumping exercises can be just as helpful. The same holds for exercises with weights, provided the subjects have no weight-training history. In fact, for unskilled jumpers who have no weight-training history, the effects of training programmes utilising these different exercises are additive. The most effective, efficient and safe way for a coach to improve the jumping achievement of his athletes may well be to submit them first to a training programme utilising regular jumps, then to a weight-training programme and finally to a drop jump training programme. In drop jump training programmes themselves, the improvement in jumping height varies greatly among studies. This variation cannot be explained satisfactorily with the information available on subjects and training programmes. Given the current state of knowledge, coaches seem to have no other option than to strictly copy a programme which has proved to be very effective. Obviously there is a need for more systematic research of the relationship between design and effect of drop jump training programmes. The most important variable to be controlled is drop jumping technique. From a review of biomechanical studies of drop jumping, it becomes clear that jumping technique strongly affects the mechanical output of muscles. The biomechanics of 2 techniques are discussed. In the bounce drop jump the downward movement after the drop is reversed as soon as possible into an upward push-off, while in the countermovement drop jump this is done more gradually by increasing the amplitude of the downward movement after landing. It is speculated that the bounce drop jump might trigger improvement of the power output capacity of muscles, whereas the repetition of the countermovement drop jump may help to improve coordination. Future training studies are needed to determine whether drop jumping technique really affects the outcome of the training, and if so, which technique should be preferred. Also, further biomechanical research is needed to determine kinematics and kinetics of other drop jumping techniques, and to trace potential dangers. The author urges for a close cooperation between coaches and scientists in future research.
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