At first glance, the vertical jump and the box jump seem a lot alike. With both, you are jumping up as high as you can. So, same thing – right? Wrong! There are actually a lot of differences between a vertical jump and box jump. You should understand these differences if you are training for a vertical jump test.
For Starters, the Vertical Jump Is a TEST
Remember that vertical jump is a test of your abilities. Many sports coaches use it as the main indicator of your athletic abilities. By contrast, box jumps are an exercise designed to improve your athletic abilities/fitness.
Vertical jumps are measured in a way so that your height has nothing to do with the results. A 5 foot guy may not jump as high into the air as a 6 foot guy, but because vertical jump is measured by the distance you got off the ground (and not how high you got into the air!), the 5 foot guy could still have a better vertical jump than the taller guy.
With box jumps, height and leg length really matter. Obviously, it is going to be a heck of a lot easier for the 6 foot guy to get onto a 50 inch box than the 5 foot guy. You can’t use box jumps to accurately measure athletic ability.
*Your box jump will always be higher than your vertical jump
This should be obvious, but I’ve had some people ask me about it so I will answer it here. When you do a box jump or vertical jump, your body is pretty much moving the same distance up into the air. But, with the box jump, you pull your legs up and clear more distance. So, your box jump should always be higher than your vertical. For example, if you have a vertical jump of 24 inches, then your box jump will probably be about 44 inches (assuming that you pull your legs up 20 inches when jumping).
Physical Differences between the Vertical Jump and Box Jump
Here is where the real difference between the vertical jump and box jump are. With the box jump, your goal is to get on top of an elevated platform, which is basically a variation of jumping a hurdle. To do this, you have to pull your legs way up into your backside. You arch your back and your body totally curls in on itself. Check out the position of this guy’s body right before he lands on the box. You’ve got to have a lot of flexibility in your hips to accomplish a high box jump.
By contrast, when you do a vertical jump, you want to extend your body. You not only need to extend your legs completely (just like the box jumper did right before getting off the ground), but also extend your back, arms, and head. So, where the box jump is about hip flexibility, the vertical jump is about being able to maximize force on extension.
As far as sports go, the vertical jump is always going to be a better indicator of athletic abilities. Think about it practically. Your body needs to be extended to block a shot, dunk a basket, or spike a volleyball. You can’t do any of these actions while curled up as in the box jump. So don’t expect sports coaches to ever start using the box jump as an indicator of athletic abilities. It is vertical jump all the way!
To learn more about vertical jump and how to get more height, check out Vert Shock by Adam Folker.