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Which Athletes Are Truly the Best Jumpers?

Posted January. 14, 2009 08:06,   


Which athlete has a higher jump, figure skating star Kim Yu-na or Olympic weightlifting champion Jang Mi-ran?

Who has a higher vertical – volleyball player Kim Hak-min or pro basketballer Kim Hyo-beom?

Every basketball or volleyball player dreams of dunking the ball or hitting a powerful spike. The average vertical jump of non-athletes is 30-40 centimeters, merely half of that of athletes.

Basketball and volleyball players are generally high jumpers.

Among them, Korean Canadian Kim Hyo-beom of the pro basketball team Hyundai Mobis, with a vertical of one meter, is the best jumper. Kim has pulled off behind-the-back dunk in games.

Even before his professional debut, he was famous for a video clip featuring his spectacular dunks.

Among volleyball players, Korean Air’s Kim Hak-min holds the vertical leap record of 80 centimeters.

Figure skater Kim Yu-na, who makes triple axels, has a leap of around 60 centimeters.

Yu Jong-hyeon, who taught Kim Yu-na when the skater trained for the World Junior Championships, said, “Yu-na was extremely good at vertical jumps. Figure skaters who are good at jumps can exhibit advanced techniques. That’s why Yu-na had great potential to become a successful skater.”

Contrary to rational thought, however, high jumpers generally do not have high verticals.

Lee Jin-taek, coach of Korea’s junior national squad, holds the national high jump record of 2.34 meters. “The high jump requires balance and a sense of rhythm. Throwing athletes with strong legs have the best vertical among all track and field athletes,” he said.

Weightlifters and wrestlers are better at jumping than high jumpers.

Sa Jae-hyeok (one meter) and Lee Bae-yeong (80 centimeters) all jump higher than most basketball players.

Female Olympic weightlifting champion Jang Mi-ran has a leap of 60 centimeters, twice that of most women.

Mun Yeong-jin at Korea Institute of Sport Sciences said, “Weightlifters repeatedly practice gathering force whenever they lift weights. By doing so, they can strengthen their waist, knees, calves and ankles, which are crucial to high vertical jumps. That’s why they can jump high without specialized training.”

Strong legs are not the only requirement for good jumpers, however.

Surprisingly speed skaters and cyclists with strong legs do not jump high.

Na Yun-su, a sports professor at Songho College, said the critical factor determining one’s vertical jump is quick response. Given that, speed skaters’ vertical jumps tend to be lower than that of weightlifters since speed skaters usually put priority on endurance.

Experts say anybody can jump high with practice.

Pro basketball players in the United States jump so high, their heads touch the rim. They usually have trained hard to strengthen their calves since childhood.

“Volleyball players strengthen their muscles ranging from the upper body to the big toe to show a better performance,” Korean Air trainer Jeong Jong-il said.

What makes basketballer Kim Hyo-beom a great jumper is also ceaseless effort.

“I’ve exercised for more than five hours per day to strengthen my abdominal muscles. Such an effort allowed me to jump high enough to dunk. The key to jumping higher is ceaseless effort,” he said.