Van Hooren, B and Zolotarjova, J. The difference between countermovement and squat jump performances: a review of underlying mechanisms with practical applications. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 2011–2020, 2017—Two movements that are widely used to monitor athletic performance are the countermovement jump (CMJ) and squat jump (SJ). Countermovement jump performance is almost always better than SJ performance, and the difference in performance is thought to reflect an effective utilization of the stretch-shortening cycle. However, the mechanisms responsible for the performance-enhancing effect of the stretch-shortening cycle are frequently undefined. Uncovering and understanding these mechanisms is essential to make an inference regarding the difference between the jumps. Therefore, we will review the potential mechanisms that explain the better performance in a CMJ as compared with a SJ. It is concluded that the difference in performance may primarily be related to the greater uptake of muscle slack and the buildup of stimulation during the countermovement in a CMJ. Elastic energy may also have a small contribution to an enhanced CMJ performance. Therefore, a larger difference between the jumps is not necessarily a better indicator of high-intensity sports performance. Although a larger difference may reflect the utilization of elastic energy in a small-amplitude CMJ as a result of a well-developed capability to co-activate muscles and quickly build up stimulation, a larger difference may also reflect a poor capability to reduce the degree of muscle slack and build up stimulation in the SJ. Because the capability to reduce the degree of muscle slack and quickly build up stimulation in the SJ may be especially important to high-intensity sports performance, training protocols might concentrate on attaining a smaller difference between the jumps.