Master Your Jumping Mechanics with Deconstructed Box Jumps
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Want to know one of the key secrets for maximizing jump performance??? Work on jumping and landing mechanics. And no, that doesn’t require a tall box as demonstrated by NFL superstar DeAngelo Hall in this video. In fact using a shorter box is ideal for teaching proper box jump and depth drop/drop jump mechanics. The key is having the intention to jump with max or near-max power regardless of the height of the box and sticking each position.
After suffering several season ending injuries the key for DeAngelo has been re-educating his nervous system with crisp and precise movements. We use an incredible amount of eccentric isometrics as well as foot and ankle training to accomplish this. However, it’s also important to transfer his enhanced movement patterns to explosive drills by using controlled power movements. Here I have DeAngelo performing one of my favorite jumping variations for teaching proper jumping mechanics and controlled power - the deconstructed box jump into a reverse depth drop.
By breaking the movement down into individual segments (particularly the box jump portion) this helps the athlete to hone in on their form as they are essentially doing a rapid eccentric isometric jump position which allows them to fine-tune their body mechanics before jumping onto the box. It also allows them to use their arms to drive their hips into the optimal position without feeling rushed or sloppy. In addition this protocol eliminates momentum and teaches the athlete how to produce power from a dead stop position, which can be invaluable for speed and power training.
You’ll also notice the reverse depth drop/drop catch which is much easier on the knees than the standard depth drop (moving forward) as the hips are able to sit back more and absorb more force with less anterior/forward knee drift.
Depth drop/depth jump variations are some of my favorite protocols for teaching athletes how to absorb force and efficiently decelerate as it forces the athlete to turn on all available muscle fibers rapidly. In other words this deals with rate of deceleration similar to rate of force production. Landing mechanics and landing efficiency are some of the most underrated yet also most critical components for athletes not only for speed and power but for injury prevention. This exercise does wonders for that particularly when the athlete focuses on sticking the landing with 90-degree joint angles.
You’ll also notice I have DeAngelo performing these without shoes. This is something I practice repeatedly with my athletes as barefoot conditions combined with high impact teaches the muscles around the feet, ankles, and toes to fire properly which is critical for athletic performance and injury prevention.
Lastly, I have all of my athletes perform a double rebound arm drive during their jump and landing positions. Simply put they drive their arms back then forward to help activate their legs during the actual jump phase then just before landing they perform a quick circular arm drive to pull their arms in front of their torso with a 90 degree arm bend while simultaneously sticking the landing. This represents the most natural and biomechanically sound technique not only for absorbing force during the landing for single jumps but also for performing series of jumps with the quickest ground contact time.
I typically recommend 3-4 sets of 2-4 reps when using this combination. I also suggest super-setting them with some type of eccentric isometric loaded squat variation to further dial in mechanics and technique as well as to create post activation potentiation.