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Jumping is something we often take for granted. While it may seem simple; learning how to jump properly is a key to performance and injury prevention.
Believe it or not, improper jumping and landing mechanics leads to more ACL injuries than anything else for high school athletes (even more so for female athletes).
The jump is also one of the best tools for improving power and athleticism, let alone essential for lifelong fitness and health. If you want to perform well and avoid injury, you must focus on learning the proper way to jump and land.
So how do we break down both the takeoff and landing of our jump? Here are the 5 points of performance:
Point 1: The Feet/Stance
Begin by placing your feet at hip-to-shoulder width, with the toes forward and a soft bend in the knee.
Point 2: Knees/Ankles/Toes
Our knees should attempt to track our toes throughout the jump (just like in our squat). You may experience some small natural knee cave during takeoff – that is OK, but let’s try to minimize it as best we can. Even more important will be our positioning on the landing.
Point 3: Countermovement
Initiate the jump with a “counter movement” (or mini squat/good morning) that acts like drawing back a bowstring to load up energy.
Point 4: Triple Extension & Knee Drive
An important position to understand, especially when you get into performance training for athletics! Without pausing, continue right into a violent triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips to launch yourself off of the ground.
While knee height isn’t crucial, the internal cue of trying to drive the knees in towards the chest often helps increase the power output during the jump.
Point 5: Landing
The MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE PUZZLE. We want to land in that same athletic position we began in. Feet hip-to-shoulder width, hips back, and knees stacking our ankles. We MUST AVOID KNEE COLLAPSE
Putting It Into Action
Once you have defined and demonstrated the elements of a good jump, it is important to remind your students that these practice jumps should be singular reps. Often we see students turn into bouncy bunnies, never focusing on proper form and technique, rather using jumping as a form of conditioning.
When learning, it is essential to slow down the jump and its parts, treating each takeoff and landing as an individual rep.
Practicing these jumps will result in a strong foundation will start to translate into safer, more efficient jumping on and off the field.