Short distance work is often used to assess and develop individual factors like agility, strength, and speed. Yet despite its importance, the relationship between a power movement, such as a countermovement jump, and short distance sprinting, which has substantial power requirements, is actually not well researched. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research investigated the correlation between sprint times and vertical jump.
In the study, the researchers sought to find associations between a weighted countermovement jump and a ten-meter sprint. The countermovement jump the athletes performed was loaded and performed in a Smith machine with 37.4lbs (17kg). Generally a countermovement jump is measured for height alone. In this study, although the participants were going for maximum height, the bar speed also generated an easy way to measure other forces.
The researchers discovered some relationships between the jump and the ten-meter sprint, both in the required power and in the motion of the body. Most notable, however, were the peak bar velocity and power. The athletes who could move the bar the fastest also performed the best in the ten-meter sprint. Keep in mind that peak velocity and average velocity are not the same thing. Average velocity also correlated with better sprinting, but not to the degree that peak velocity did.
The researchers warned about the interpretation of these results. They might have found a significant correlation, but this is only a starting point. We still don’t know for certain if a lightly loaded countermovement jump can be used as a training tool to develop sprinting speed. It’s possible that the person most motivated to jump with the greatest power had the same motivation during the sprinting test.
In normal testing conditions, the height of the jump is what’s measured, not the peak velocity. Although the two are certainly related, the bodyweight of the athlete also plays a major role in height once he or she leaves the ground. While the authors didn’t study this feature, they noted this correlation was probably strong as well.
It seems that for now, the use of a vertical leap test is validated as a sprinting assessment tool, but we need more studies to be absolutely certain. In the meantime, it may at least be a good way for coaches to examine the motivation of an athlete to push the limits.
1. Mário Marques, et. al., “Kinetic and Kinematic associations between vertical jump performance and 10 meters sprint time,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000390
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