Press-Republican

Columns

March 20, 2012

Jump training provides athletic edge

Many athletes need to be able to jump high. It won't determine the outcome of a competition, but it can balance the odds in your favor when playing basketball, volleyball or track. In order to develop this skill, an athlete must first work on technique, followed by strength, and then eventually concentrate on power.

In my opinion, the first thing that should be taught in flight school is how to land. Regarding jumping, my thinking is the same. An athlete should have a good idea of how to land softly. By using a short step, athletes can practice landing correctly. Simply step off and land as quietly as possible. The ball of the foot should touch just before the heel. The hips should push backwards, and the shoulders should stay vertical over the ball of the foot. The back should also not round. The feet should be roughly hip-width apart and the arms pushed back so the hands are next to the hips. Interestingly, this is the exact position you should be in to have the most powerful two-leg jump.

Once landing is perfected, the athlete can then progress to jumping and landing, followed by repetitive jumping. When doing repetitive jumping, make sure to keep landing correctly. Once you start landing off-balance, you should stop and rest. I recommend starting with one set of 10 to 20 jumps and build up to three sets of the same.

While training the mechanics, strength training should also be performed. Squats, dead lifts, step-ups and lunges are the best exercise for jump training. These exercises strengthen the same muscles used for jumping, specifically those around the hips and knees. Most people think the calves are what do most of the work, when actually the hips are the powerhouse for this action.

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