NFL Players the better Jumpers?

by Tony Smith on 01/16/2010

Strength, Power, Speed – Jump and Dunk!

Are NFL players the better jumpers compared to their NBA counterpart?…well, not necessarily, but prospective NFL players in scouting combines score a higher average vertical jump than their NBA counterparts.  I believe the difference on average is at about 2-4 inches, not much, but considering Basketball is featured  as a “vertical leap” sport, it makes you wonder.

What makes the NFL player the better leaper? Well, better leaper is not a term I would consider. The NFL combines test only for the standing vertical jump where as in the NBA they test both the standing and  run up vertical jump. It is not uncommon to see NBA players with dismal 28 inch standing verticals but at the same time they possess  34- 38 inch run up verticals. Carmelo Anthony is an example. Elastic strength vs Static strength/power. Both are beneficial and both are genetically determined but can be improved.

Genetics and training. The average NFL player is shorter and much more bulkier than the average NBA player. The NFL player lives and was born in the weight room. There are many wide receivers and defensive backs that are able to squat almost double, some even triple, their body-weight. This is where  the NFL player gains the advantage in the standing vertical jump.

NBA players are not as weight room addicted, their longer limbs and insert points and longer muscles make it a little more difficult to lift heavier weights, though their longer muscles keep them at an advantage in elastic strength and endurance.

A perfect analogy: NFL players are 100 meter sprinters while the NBA player is a 400 meter runner. Both fast, explosive, and strong, but comes out different. 40 inch verticals in the NFL combines are becoming quite common, and it is almost rare to find them in the NBA. Michael Jordon’s 48 inch vertical was done on a run up, not a straight up jump. Again, elastic strength more prevalent in the NBA. Test a 40 inch vertical leaper in the NFL in a run up jump and he will probably get 2-5 inches more, where as the NBA player with the 34″ inch vertical will get a additional 5-10 inches. This is based on the last 2 scouting combine reports for the NBA and NFL.


The point of this post is how to use this info to help you increase your vertical leap. IT IS IMPORTANT TO TEST BOTH YOUR STANDING AND RUN UP VERTICAL. If you jump say, 24 inches at a standstill, but can jump 30 inches+ on a run up, you lack  basic strength. If you can do 30″ inches at a standstill but only 32″ inches on a run up, you probably can squat a good weight but your elastic strength and spring is holding you back.

My training philosophy is to build your foundation first, your strength base. Until you can squat 1.5 to double your body-weight there is no need to do any intense plyometrics or advanced training. Play your respective sports, and practice your skill, cause no matter how high you can jump or fast you can run, if you cant play you wont win or gain anything; and work on your strength base: Heavy weights and core work is all you need to build a foundation. And always start light and build up to heavier weight. Injuries are not helpful.

If you are already strong with solid core strength,  then advanced training like Jacob Hiller’s training program will help you reach the next level.


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