I have a confession; I actually really enjoy and love basketball.
I love watching college ball, and no matter how much it gets bashed, the NBA. Something about the way athletes like Kyrie and Steph can handle the ball and shoot, or just watching the likes of Lebron James and Russell Westbrook and how they explode to the rim.
In my youth I used to day dream incessantly about throwing it down. I would go up to any guy that looked like he was tall and without any introduction and ask them if they could dunk.
When it pertains to athleticism we typically think of two things, speed, and the jumping a.k.a hops. (At least that's what the cool kids call it). All with good reason, these traits can be almost otherworldly, and will definitely help an athlete get noticed.
In a recent post I discussed speed, and believe it or not the way to train jumping is fairly similar.
The first thing that needs to be stated; in order to jump you must first learn to land. Allow me just to admire the zen quality of such a statement...
In all seriousness, a good landing is not just indicative of reducing the risk of injury, a good landing will also give me an idea of how strong an athlete is and how well they are able to move. An athlete that flops around on the landing clearly needs a lot of work. Whereas an athlete who demonstrates a remarkable landing is an athlete that may need to spend more time actually jumping in order to improve their hops.
A drill I like to use to teach the landing is something I picked up from Lee Taft called the toe drop. It not only teaches an athlete to land well and absorb force properly but also to absorb force quickly.
I touched on this briefly, but an athlete also needs strength to produce force. Similar to speed I am not discussing absolute strength, rather relative strength. The higher an athlete's strength to body weight ratio the more potential they have to not just produce force but also recover from the subsequent jump. When training for this kind of strength an athlete is best off using whole body complex movements such as Deadlifts, Front Squats, Split Squats and etc.
I'll be the first to admit, strength and landing are not enough. While they may just be the two most important aspects, as they lay the foundation, in order to jump higher an athlete must learn to produce force. In other words an athlete must jump.
Granted this can be programmed in all sorts of ways, and yet for the sake of not making you want to claw your eyes out of boredom I will just say that I love box jumps for a couple reasons.
1. You can use a box jump to teach an athlete to land when the force they experience at the landing is at the peak of their jump, thereby allowing the landing to be easier on the body.
2. You can also use a box jump to teach an athlete to, you know, jump. Whether through teaching better triple extension (the extension of the hips, knees, and ankles), or to just continue to practice the production of power.
So you want to jump higher and have the hops akin to that of a dog excited for its treat? A good place to start is by learning to land, and then continue to get stronger, and of course jumping more.