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This is one of many methods available for measuring vertical jump height - see the discussion and list of available methods. Measuring vertical jump height using video is possible because jump height is a function of the time between take-off and landing (hang time).
Starting with the takeoff, the acceleration of earth gravity will slow down the movement of the jumper until velocity reaches zero at the peak of the jump. It can be shown that both of these phases take the same time, with the peak of the jump happening at exactly the midpoint of hang time.
The graph shows that the downward movement of the jump takes half of the overall time of the jump and velocity at the peak of the jump is zero.
The jumper should not land with bent knees as this would artificially increase hang time and therefore bias the results. The frame rate (amount of unique pictures per second) of the video should be as high as possible to ensure a precise measurement of hang time. This procedure describes the method used for directly measuring the vertical jump height jumped. In my last article we covered a few of the relatively simple, but fundamental definitions that underpin sport and exercise biomechanics, relating them to the kettlebell swing. This article will focus on an important type of movement pattern: force-time curves, which illustrate how we apply force over time. Newton’s three laws of linear motion provide a framework of how we control movement with force, and the effect this can have on performance. To get back on track though, Figure 1 shows the typical vertical force-time curve from vertical jump performance. Recall from the last article that force is the product of mass and acceleration (F = ma), and we can use this to decipher Figures 1 and 2.
We could take this a stage further and numerically integrate this velocity-time data to obtain displacement, or motion, but key measures like jump height can be quite easily obtained using equations of uniform motion. We calculate mechanical power now by multiplying our force-time data by our shiny new velocity-time data, but let’s leave this to another article, where we can do the topic justice. This is perhaps Newton’s most famous law, and it states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Identification of problem areas, like jump landing, enables us to implement technique changes to landing strategies with the aim of reducing landing force, and thus minimize injury.

To conclude then, we can use Newton’s law of motion to manipulate force-time data to get an idea of the different phases of performance, like the vertical jump, its demands and consequences. As his children grew up and went to school, so too did Jason, deciding to take his love of all things training to the next level. Its is an integral part of many track and field disciplines as well as ball sports such as basketball and volleyball. Using video, one can determine the hang time by subtracting the timestamp of the takeoff from the timestamp of the landing.
To reach a maximum jump height an athlete tries to vertically accelerate his body as fast as possible. There are also timing systems that measure the time of the jump and from that calculate the vertical jump height. In the case of our jumper, force is applied to his center of mass, the point around which the masses of his segments (e.g.
The giveaway is the standard unit that inertia is reported in: the kilogram, the unit also used to report mass (well, in most of the world anyway). Human movement tends to be underpinned by the application of force to the ground through the feet (or hands, see Becca’s article on push up force). Typical vertical force-time curve from countermovement vertical jump performance, vertical force applied to the center of mass of our jumper. If we know that F = ma, we can manipulate force data, like that presented in Figures 1 and 2, by dividing it by the mass of the subject, converting our force-time curve into an acceleration-time curve. Annotated vertical acceleration-time curve - the acceleration of the center of mass our jumper during his jump. However, a little jiggery-pokery, in the form of some numerical integration, enables calculation of velocity - how fast our jumper moves.
Annotated vertical velocity-time curve - how quickly the center of mass of our jumper is moving during his jump. Before we finish however, we should consider the practical relevance of Newton’s third law. Perhaps without realizing it, this law has been at work throughout our analysis in as much as if our jumper had pushed against the ground and not met an equal an opposite reaction, jump performance would have been quite tricky. For while the reaction enables us to move, it can also act as that all-important stopping force, bringing motion to a crashing halt.

Our jumper came to a halt with the help of a force equal to nearly 7.5 times his body weight.
We’re going to use this foundation in future articles, the next of which will cover power. Following a five-year stint with the finest regiment in the British Army (1st Battalion Coldstream Guards), Jason dabbled in house-husbandry, becoming a stay at home dad to his two children.
Once the jumper leaves the ground it is not possible to further increase velocity and therefore jump height is predetermined at this point.
Therefore a vertical jump consists of two phases, the ascending phase and the descending phase.
This introduces perhaps the most basic type of force: weight, which is the product of mass and the acceleration of gravity. Force platforms enable us to record these forces, and using Newton’s laws, we can manipulate them to obtain a better understanding of the mechanical demands of different types of movement (see previous article for example).
We can then start thinking about applying Newton’s second law to get more information about how much force has been applied, and how much movement this will cause. Figure 4 shows velocity-time, and what are often referred to as peaks and troughs, which provide an indication of movement direction: troughs below zero indicate downward motion, peaks above zero upward motion. This is illustrated in Figure 5, which focuses on the change in vertical force as our jumper lands. As a final thought, Figure 5 can also tell us how quickly landing force was applied to the body. Therefore, to overcome inertia (move something) of an object we have to apply a force that exceeds its weight.
Or, once moving it will keep moving; until pushed or pulled, that is, by, you guessed it, applying a force.
Dividing landing force by landing time yields something called loading rate, which in this case was just under 132 bodyweights per second - potentially problematic.

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