GAINcast Episode 241: Jump assessment (with Warren Young)

Over the last several decades Professor Warren Young has been at the forefront of redefining how coaches test jumping ability, reactive strength, and agility. The tools he developed, such as the reactive strength index, have helped coaches better measure and train the physical abilities needed in their sport. He joins us on this week’s podcast to discuss his career, best practices for assessment, and how to bridge the gap from testing to training design.

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Notes and quotes

Dr. Warren Young is an Adjunct Associate Professor in Exercise & Sport Science at Federation University Australia. He is the former coordinator of their Master of Strength & Conditioning program, where he teaches and conducted applied research in a variety of topic relating to physical preparation for sport. Warren has published numerous articles over three decades, and has a special interest in speed and agility training and assessment. His research, among other results, led to the development of the Reactive Strength Index.

This episode is also brought to you by Swift Performance. Their EZE Jump Mat combines accuracy, usability, and durability. One of many Swift solutions to help improve training assessments.

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 5:00 – Young’s athletic and academic background.
  • 12:00 – Improving strength and power assessments: “One easy assessment you can do is measure the peak force in a jump as a percentage of the max isometric strength. This measure can be used to determine when an athlete should switch the emphasis from maximum strength training methods to speed-strength methods, or vice-versa.”
  • 19:15 – Finding the right test: “What I look for in a test is evidence of relationships to performance. If there is a correlation between the test and the performance? Or does it distinguish elite from lower level athletes? Then there might be some relevance for the test.”
  • 24:00 – Profiling and frequency.
  • 25:30 – Data quantity vs. value: “I’ve found myself doing more testing, but not actually getting more depth of information.”
  • 27:30 – Practical examples of adapting testing to your needs.
  • 34:30 – The development of RSI: “If focus on the jump height in a drop jump, the outcome is very similar to a countermovement jump. It is no longer reactive. If you think about height and contact time, contact times become shorter and the eccentric loading increases. It becomes reactive.”
  • 40:30 – Using different heights with RSI testing and adapting to different sports: “With training you don’t just increase your RSI score, but you increase the height where you get the best score.”
  • 45:15 – Bounding and speed bounding: “Bounding is going for distance from one foot to the other. You get fantastic extension, split between the leg, swing leg retraction. But it is relatively slow because the emphasis is on distance. Speed bounding is doing the same action, just faster. You sacrifice distance for speed.”
  • 48:00 – Speed bound testing.
  • 50:00 – Rethinking your approach to agility. “Elite athletes are better at agility because they have the ability to anticipate the opponent’s movements to commence their reaction before the opponent has completed their action. You can’t anticipate a flashing light. But you can anticipate an opponent.” “Agility in attack and defense is different. There are different movements and perceptual demands. They are specific skills. We’ve shown in research that you can be good in one and not the other.”
  • 58:30 – Training agility.
  • 1:02:00 – Additional thoughts on play, adjusting as a coach, and looking into the future.

To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: