Perform deep squats to improve vertical jump performance. If you are an athlete looking to improve your performance to the next level, you have to squat with depth! As an athlete, it is essential to find any edge possible to get you to an optimal level of performance to excel at your sport. Many athletes and coaches have undermined the effectiveness of the deep squat as it has been demonstrated by many that it is not a “sport specific” movement; hence, it will not provide effective results for athletes. For example, in sports that require an emphasis on vertical jump performance such as basketball and volleyball, it can be seen that these athletes are rarely getting into a position that mimics the deep squat; that being a position in which the thighs are deeper than parallel to the surface; as a result, the focus has been shifted away from depth and into parallel squatting to maximize performance. The truth is, squatting for depth has actually been shown to carry out optimal results for athletes looking to increase both their vertical jump height and sport performance, while also protecting them from injury.
First off, it has been shown that increased squat depth-via the back (barbell on back) or front (barbell resting on shoulders)- engages the vastus medialis oblique muscle, otherwise known as the VMO, a muscle part of the quadriceps group on the front of the thigh. The VMO is very important to an athlete as it functions to protect the structural integrity of the knee, while also increasing the ground reaction force that an athlete puts into the ground upon contact when sprinting. Simply put, if you are placing an emphasis on this muscle group, not only will you be protecting yourself from injury, but it will also make you a faster athlete!
In an article written in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, subjects performing the deep front and back squat were found to exhibit significant increases in the squat jump and countermovement jump; greater than that of the group that performed ¼ back squats and the control group. Researchers then went on the describe, “Deep front and back squats guarantee performance-enhancing transfer effects of dynamic maximal strength to dynamic speed-strength capacity compared with quarter squats”. As you can see, there is proof that you should be getting depth on those squats!
Lastly, it is important for the athlete to become aware of the benefits of weightlifting to increase performance. If you are an elite athlete looking to take your performance to the absolute next level, emphasizing weightlifting to optimize your results on and off the field, court, pitch, or ice!
Hartmann H., Wirth, K., Klusemann, M., Dalic, J., Matushek, C., & Schmidtbleicher, D. (2012). Influence of squatting depth on jumping performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(12) 3243-3261.