Jumping: Unlocking Your Explosive Power

When training for power development, there are two big issues:

  • Believing that a certain type of training with more weight is always better
    Athletes performing Olympic lifts such as cleans often do whatever they can to achieve the lift such as a jumping jack reverse curl movement. When broken down, it’s not a movement that is seen in any sport.
  • Trainers/coaches progressing athletes too soon.
    Many trainers progress athletes to some of the most advanced movements because it will make a good video or because the athlete can. Just because the athlete can doesn’t mean they should. Social media is great for marketing, but your primary job as a trainer/coach is to get your athlete better in a safe and efficient manner.

I have made both of these mistakes before as a coach and with my own training. Learning from mistakes is what helps us improve. That is why constant research and application leads to better results. One way to avoid these mistakes is to incorporate jumping into your routine. Jumping is the simplest expression for the rate of force development.

Why should you incorporate jumping into your training routine?

  • Jumping is performed in most sports and is a natural movement skill.
  • Jumping is simple and can easily be added as opposed to more complicated moves.
  • When performed correctly, it is a very explosive movement which helps increase Fast-Twitch Type II muscle fibers.
  • It allows the athlete to perform explosive concentric muscle action (take-off) followed by a rapid eccentric muscle action (landing) in all planes of motion. Weight room movements are limited to the mostly sagittal plane of motion.

Maximize Your Jump Performance:

  • Understand the athletic position. This looks different for different sports. For jumping it should be the following:
    • Hips, knees, and ankles are stacked on top of each other in a straight line (i.e. hip-width stance) to allow movement to be performed in a straight line which is faster. With proper positioning, you can avoid energy loss. Remember “joint position dictates muscle action”.
    • Obtain triple flexion (hips, knees, ankles) by pushing hips back to optimize hamstring and glute muscle length with a slight bend in the knees. This can change based on individual differences, and the ability to achieve dorsiflexion is vital.
  • Obtain the right depth quickly and efficiency. The whole movement should be down fast, up fast. Two areas dictate this:
    • Strength – Relative strength is key to just about every athletic action. If my muscles aren’t strong enough to decelerate actions then I also won’t be able to accelerate well.
    • Improper Coaching – A lot of athletes are coached to go down slow and up fast which is not maximizing performance. Athletes that lack strength and body control may need to do that, but to jump high, you must go down fast so you don’t lose mechanical energy.
  • Use the upper body. Our body is set up for reciprocal action, meaning one action affects another. If one uses aggressive arm and shoulder action they will have aggressive leg and hip action.

Other factors to consider:

  • Landing is critical for safety and more efficient jumps. Every jump, except broad jumps, should be followed by a ball of the foot landing followed by ankle going into dorsiflexion.
  • There are a million different ways to jump. Choose the best one for your athlete and progress them accordingly. For us that is simple to complex, single response to multiple responses, non-weighted to weighted.

A proper jumping program can take an athlete’s performance to the next level because they are more explosive in the right manner, transferring to their sport. It also aids in injury management. Jumping programs are quick to implement and require minimal space with no equipment. This is why jump training is a staple in our program at HPI.