Research and Infographics for Athletic Performance, Sport Science, and Health

Is your training focused in the right direction?


Want to jump higher and sprint faster? Although jumping and sprinting are both explosive movements, optimizing your performance in both requires a more strategic approach. The exercises you use to train may have a drastic impact on how you perform in sprinting vs. jumping activities [1-5].

 A recent study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning looked at the effects of vertical vs. horizontal-focused jump training on vertical jumping, sprinting, and change-of-direction abilities in 18 elite handball players [5]. The athletes were split into two groups: one group performed a series of 1-leg horizontal jumps (HOR) while the other group performed 1-leg vertical jumps (VERT) instead, 2x per week for 10 weeks. The athletes did this jump training in addition to their normal 5x per week training regimen which included a combination of technical team practices and upper body resistance training.


Both jump training approaches led to performance improvements in vertical jump, sprint, and change-of-direction abilities. However, the HOR, or horizontal jumping group improved sprint and change-of-direction abilities more than the VERT, or vertical jumping group. On the flip side of the coin, the VERT group improved its vertical jumping abilities more than the HOR group. In other words, the group that focused on horizontal jumping improved more in the horizontal-oriented tests (i.e. sprint and change-of-direction) while the group that focused on vertical jumping improved more in the test performed in the vertical-oriented test (i.e. vertical jump). If your focus is improving sprinting or change-of-direction ability, focus on movements performed in the horizontal plane like hip thrusts and bridges, deadlifts, jumps for distance, and sprints. If your focus is improving jumping ability, focus on movements performed in the vertical plane like squats, lunges, step-ups, and jumps for height [6,7].

 ShakBot Bottom Line

  • If you’re seeking improvement in an activity that relies heavily on horizontal movement, like football, soccer, ice hockey, or running, it would be wise to incorporate a variety of horizontal-oriented movements into your training (i.e. hip thrusts, deadlifts, jumps for distance, and sprints).
  • If you’re seeking improvement in an activity that relies heavily on vertical movement, like volleyball, basketball, or the high jump, incorporate a variety of vertical-oriented movements into your training (i.e. squats, lunges, jumps for height, and step-ups).


  1. Ramírez-Campillo, R., Gallardo, F., Henriquez-Olguín, C., Meylan, C.M., Martínez, C., Álvarez, C., Caniuqueo, A., Cadore, E.L. and Izquierdo, M., 2015. Effect of vertical, horizontal, and combined plyometric training on explosive, balance, and endurance performance of young soccer players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 29(7), pp.1784-1795.

  2. Iacono, A.D., Martone, D. and Padulo, J., 2016. Acute effects of drop-jump protocols on explosive performances of elite handball players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 30(11), pp.3122-3133.

  3. Contreras, B., Vigotsky, A.D., Schoenfeld, B.J., Beardsley, C., McMaster, D.T., Reyneke, J. and Cronin, J., 2016. Effects of a six-week hip thrust versus front squat resistance training program on performance in adolescent males: A randomized-controlled trial. Journal of strength and conditioning research.

  4. Randell, A.D., Cronin, J.B., Keogh, J.W. and Gill, N.D., 2010. Transference of strength and power adaptation to sports performance—Horizontal and vertical force production. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 32(4), pp.100-106.

  5. Antonio, D.I., Martone, D., Milic, M. and Johnny, P., 2017. Vertical-vs. horizontal-oriented drop-jump training: chronic effects on explosive performances of elite handball players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

  6. Rimmer, E. and Sleivert, G., 2000. Effects of a Plyometrics Intervention Program on Sprint Performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 14(3), pp.295-301.

  7. Delecluse, C., Van Coppenolle, H.E.R.M.A.N., Willems, E.U.S.T.A.C.H.E., Van Leemputte, M., Diels, R. and Goris, M.A.R.I.N.A., 1995. Influence of high-resistance and high-velocity training on sprint performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 27(8), pp.1203-1209.