Kids Can’t Jump

Full disclosure…I’m not a very good leaper. I was a swimmer for most of my athletic career. I also played a little basketball and volleyball. And while jumping is a key aspect of most sports it wasn’t my forte.

Even later in training I was never the best at box jumps. I remember a friend, Chris Lebihan, coming in to the gym one day to train. And the plyo boxes were stacked totalling 54″ tall or 4 feet 6 inches.

Anyways, a number of young athletes were training. And one of them commented that jumping that high just wasn’t possible. Lebs had just walked in the gym in street clothes with his gym bag slung over his shoulder. I called to him and asked him to jump up on the boxes. He dropped his bag off his shoulder and proceeded to jump atop the boxes with ease.

He picked up his bag and carried on to the change-room. The young athletes were stunned and speechless.

Now to be fair it didn’t hurt that Lebs was an Olympic medallist in a power sport i.e. bobsleigh. And it definitely made a huge impact on those young athletes.

So besides impressing people in the gym what else is jumping good for?

Well, it’s an important quality in many team sports. The striker in soccer may need to get up on a corner to head the ball in for a goal. In football, a receiver may need to out jump the defense on a last play Hail Mary. Basketball and volleyball involve constant jumping on every play from a lay up, a dunk or a rebound in the former to a serve, a hit or a block in the latter.

When you think about it the highlight plays of most sports involve jumping. This could be the incredible save in a soccer game. Or the kill after a hit in a volleyball game. Or the leap at the wall in baseball to save a homeroom.

You could also say running is bounding from one foot to the other. In that case every sport that involves a great run in a game is a demonstration of excellent jumping ability.

The unfortunate reality however is that we are getting worse at jumping.

An Australian study looked at the jumping ability of young athletes and found it’s getting worse.

The 30 year study ran from 1985 to 2015 and included over 1700 eleven and twelve year olds. Researchers looks at standing long jump, anthropometric and demographic data.

What they found is that young athletes are jumping 16.4 cm less in 2015 than they were 1985. This accounts for a decrease of 11.2%. So much for better programming, coaching and technology.

But wait you might be thinking…children are more massive today than they were 30 years ago. So it makes sense they can’t jump as far.

This is true. However when the researchers adjusted the results for mass they still noticed a reduction of 11.1 cm in jumping distance or 7.7%.

And Canada is just as bad as Australia when it comes to obesity. And young people aren’t getting as much exercise as they used to. A Canadian report from 2014 found only 7% of 5-11 year olds get 60 minutes of exercise per day. Once they age up to 12 years old the number drops to 4%.

How sad is that? In a group of 25 kids, a normal class size, only one student would get an hour of exercise per day. How is that even possible at 12 years old when there are opportunities to play before, during and after school, on the weekend and during holidays?

Not bad enough for you? It’s worse.

During the COVID pandemic only 0.8% of 12-17 year olds got an hour of exercise per day.

Wow! Not good at all.

Fortunately we have a solution in place to help reverse this.

Coach Nathan will be running a Vertical Power Camp from August 10 to September 18 at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc.

This camp is fully programmed and coached and will teach young athletes how to improve their jumping ability. They will learn how to improve their mobility, how to get their core turned on, how to properly put force into the ground, how to use their arms and maybe most importantly, how to do all this to prevent injury.

With COVID protocols there are limits on numbers. But this also allows for more personalized coaching and ultimately better results. Everything kicks off a week from Monday on August 10, 2020. Call or stop by Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. to register. And get ready to take your vertical power to new heights.


  1. Fraser, B. J., Blizzard, L., Tomkinson, G. R., Lycett, K., Wake, M., Burgner, D., Olds, T. (2019). The great leap backward: changes in the jumping performance of Australian children aged 11− 12-years between 1985 and 2015. Journal of sports sciences37(7), 748-754.



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