The problem with using vertical jump as a measure of athleticism is it has no time component. Some people can spend a half second or more on the ground generating velocity. (see slow jump below.)

Velocity that takes that long to generate is worthless for most sports. We all know those basketball players who can jump really high in warm-ups but never seem to get up during actual gameplay. It’s because rarely in basketball do you have the time to set up your max vertical jump. You almost always need to get up quickly. If you’re too slow you get stripped, blocked, or dunked on. The height you can jump means nothing in basketball if you cannot jump quickly.

Quickness, speed, and quick jumping are the abilities that are most useful for team sports. If you just want to achieve a certain vertical jump or just want to dunk, by all means obsess over the height of your max vertical. But if you train for a team sport, focus on just moving better and faster in general.

I can use myself as an example. I jumped 40 inches a couple times when I was 15. I spent most of my high school days around 36. When I started training again at 20 years old, I got to 42. Right now I’m jumping 38, similar or even lower than 5-10 years ago. But my athleticism now is light years ahead. I mean it’s not even close. First step quickness, speed, agility, and the quickness of my jumps are all much improved. And because of that I am a much more effective basketball athlete at 24 years old than I ever was when I played in high school and college.