Vertec Jump Trainer + Steve Oldenburg

An Exclusive Interview with a Jump Training Expert
vertec jump tester training

The Sports Imports team partnered with Steve Oldenburg to give you a comprehensive how-to guide on the most popular training tool for athletes of all ages and skills, the Vertec Jump Trainer. This jump training tool challenges athletes to improve their vertical leap through instantaneous feedback recognition.

In the exclusive interview with Steve, which you can also watch on YouTube, you will find out how he has utilized the Vertec in sports training and get an inside look on how it elevates volleyball training specifically. You will also find out why jump training and testing is important to incorporate into your program and how to measure standing reach.

Keep an eye out on all Sports Imports social platforms (Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter) for more educational, how-to, and drill-specific content with the Vertec.


I’m Steve Oldenburg. I’ve been a strength and conditioning coach for over 18 years, working with professional, collegiate, and youth athletes. I’ve used the Vertec not only for our jumping sports, both volleyball and basketball, but also some of our hitting sports like tennis and sports like soccer. I went to college at Central Michigan University and earned my Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science CSCS certification, which is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the NSCA.

I also have a fellowship of applied functional science from the Gray Institute and my job experience includes 11 years at the University of Illinois, working with the Grand Rapids Sports Professional Volleyball Team, and the Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Club working with our youth athletes. I specialize a lot in looking at muscle imbalances, length-tension testing, and movement testing.

I’ve published a book on human kinetics. It’s The Complete Conditioning for Volleyball, and it’s sold in 23 different countries all over the world. So a little bit of my speciality has turned into strength and conditioning for all volleyball athletes.


It’s important for our jumping sports, both volleyball and basketball, but also some of our hitting sports like tennis and sports like soccer. A lot of people look at it and it’s easy to correlate using the Vertec for a volleyball or a basketball athlete, if you jump higher, it’s going to make you more proficient in your sport. But if look at vertical jump, it’s really a measure of power output, which is how much force you can exhibit into the ground and how quickly can you do it, which relates to our accelerating in our cutting sports as well. And so you can really utilize the Vertec in any sport where you jump, accelerate, or change direction.

vertec vertical jump trainer

The vertec in all sports training

In most cases, if you’re using the Vertec in a sport where you’re changing direction or accelerating, we’re going to do just a regular standardized test or standing jump test. And we can look at that to see if the athlete is improving from our training throughout the year.

As a volleyball player and a basketball player, we can do the same thing, but we can also use it in a couple of different ways. We can use it to see if the athlete is fatiguing throughout the practice or the season. So not only using it as a testing scenario for a maximum jump, but maybe setting up the Vertec in the middle or at the end of a practice to see if that athlete can maintain their maximum throughout the session. A lot of times, if you think about it, in volleyball or in basketball – Can the athlete actually be the most explosive and the most athletic in the fourth quarter or the final set?


I have really utilized the Vertec for volleyball in my 18 plus years as a strength coach. Our coaches from their standpoint, they look at a standing jump as the block jump and they look at a max jump as the approach jump. So those are the two jumps that we generally test.

We look at how high is the athlete jumping, are they improving as we’re going through our testing season? But we can also look at from a standing jump to an approach jump if there is a deficit in one of those, we can change that individual’s programing to improve that specific jump.

If you look at just the step, the block jump, or the standing jump to see if it’s mostly X power type movement, for example: if we can increase the athlete’s overall general strength using squatting type motions, we’ll probably get an increase in standing jump. If you look at the approach jump, it’s a couple different variables. We have to look at, one is the athlete efficient with their form or approach? And two is the athlete getting enough pop off the ground? So we can use different exercises like depth jumps to improve that.

Or is the athlete a little bit unstable when we put them in a single leg balance drill. So we can incorporate different modalities of strength to then improve those specific measures from the vertical.


In general, the athlete does not get too much higher after their fourth jump. Occasionally on their fourth jump, we’ve actually given athletes a bonus jump if they touch the tile because that means they might have just a little bit left in them. If we do that, whatever protocol that we set up, we keep that the same through our testing period. So if you have a mid-season and post-season test, you can choose to do 3 jumps, 4 jumps, or 5 jumps, but keep that the same throughout that whole testing season.

vertec measure standing reach

There’s two different ways that I’ve measured standing reach. One way is with the Vertec, and it’s where the athlete stands right in front of it, reaching as high as they can. Then you ask the athlete to move through it, touching as high as they can on the Vertec vanes.

The other way is to have a tape measure taped to a wall, then have that athlete put the outside ankle bone on the wall, the hip on the wall, the shoulder on the wall, and then reach up as high as they can. I do like that one in respect to some of our hitting and throwing sports, because then as a tester I can take the athlete’s wrist and stretch out the shoulder just a little bit.

In the hitting and throwing sports, due to repetition or muscle imbalances, you’ll get a tightness in the shoulder, or you’ll get a shoulder that loosens up considerably due to the motion and this can happen in the beginning of the season, in the middle of the season, or at the end of the season. So that reach height is very variable with our hitting, throwing, and swinging sports.


The Vertec is a simple tool, very well made. In recent years they’ve made some advances, adding wheels to it to make it more portable and adding the weighted bar to it to make it more stable. It’s very easy to set up, you can set it up for the individual athlete or you can set it up for a group as large as a football team and knock that out quick.


The Vertec™ Vertical Jump Trainer from Sports Imports is the original jump trainer and is offered in both a free-standing unit and a wall-mounted unit which fits nicely in physical fitness facilities or gymnasiums. If your program has already purchased a Vertec Jump Tester in the past, Sports Imports offers Vertec replacement parts as well. Whether you need a Vertec Reset Tool, Replacement Vertec Jump Trainer Vanes, or a Vertec Jump Trainer Replacement Kit, we can help. With the purchase of the Vertec Vertical Jump Trainer, your program also receives direct support from our equipment experts. If you need any assistance with your training equipment, please reach out to your regional representative.