In an article I wrote last year, I shared why power has nothing to do with jump height. In this series of brief articles, I’m going to share exactly what does determine how high you jump alongside how to jump higher.

One of the issues with the modern fitness industry is the number of over-marketed and under-informed ideas that get shared. All too often, the drive to sell rather than to inform undermines trust in the advice that’s available. Advice on how to jump higher often falls into this bracket. Stripping away the fluff and rhetoric is tough! The aim of this initial article is to strip back to foundational principles and stand on the shoulders of giants to underpin a quality-assured approach to developing your vertical jump. That starts by acknowledging that the laws that govern all motion apply to our body too. This may seem like a simple place to begin but is overlooked all too often. These laws of motion were first described by Isaac Newton in 1686 and the description hasn’t changed much since. Rather than sharing them myself, here are Newton’s Laws of Motion described by those clever people at NASA.

Now, if you’ve automatically drifted back to high school and tuned out mentally at the mention of Newton’s laws, I don’t blame you… Although, I encourage you to pull yourself back to the present and stick with it, as that’s the toughest bit of understanding how to grow your vertical jump out of the way. The reason for this is the knowledge that these laws have survived scrutiny from the best minds in history for the past 330+ years, and are still accepted as fundamental today! This gives us a foundation we can be confident to build efficient and effective training on. A foundation we can trust.

Here’s what we need to know from Isaac Newton, in a slightly adapted order;

  • Reflections on Law 1:
    • Your body will stay still unless a force is applied to it. If a force is applied, your body will follow the direction of the force in a straight line.
  • Reflections on Law 3:
    • If we want to travel up, we need to apply a force down.
  • Reflections on Law 2:
    • Force is equal to our mass multiplied by its acceleration. Switching that around a bit, our body’s acceleration (which determines how high we jump) is relative to the amount of force applied divided by our body’s mass.

To jump well we need to apply the maximum amount of force we can straight down into the floor to accelerate our body upwards. The height that we reach in our jump is then based on the amount of force we apply and how much our body weighs. If our body is light, we can apply less force to jump the same height. If our body is heavy, we need to apply more force to it to reach the same jump height. If our body is light and we apply a large force to it, we fly!

Based on that, there are two ways we can change physically to improve our jump height;

  • Build up the amount of force we can apply straight down into the floor.
  • Reduce the mass of the body.

There is also a subtle and easily overlooked third way we can change to improve our jump height;

  • Improve the direction we apply force in.

These should be the Physical and Technical objectives of any training program focussed on how to jump higher.

Now we’ve set up some quality-assured objectives, you have taken the 1ststep towards growing your jump. Armed with only those simple facts you will be able to start to make changes to your training immediately to begin improving your jump height. However, in the next article in this series we’ll take another step into looking more deeply at Newton’s Laws of Motion and how to jump higher more efficiently.

Until next time… Keep learning. Keep working. Fly High!