B.A.S.E. Sports Conditioning – Articles 18
Jump to It.
Part IV: Landing Mechanics
by Mike Mejia, CSCS
Finally! After weeks of doing all sorts of non-traditional drills designed to improve strength and mobility, it’s time to get down to business. No more funky stretches, or strengthening exercises that get you strange looks when you’re at the gym. Having gone through the first two phases of this program, you’re now ready to start increasing explosive strength and power by jumping up onto platforms, over hurdles and all that good stuff! Before you go and get all excited, though, realize that in keeping with the theme of this program, there’s going to be a certain way to go about this. After all, just because you’ve done several weeks of corrective stretching and strengthening doesn’t mean that you’re ready to start doing plyometrics with reckless abandon!
As you’ll see in the video below, we’ll start by learning proper landing mechanics for both bilateral (two foot) and unilateral (one foot) jumps. In the first phase of conditioning, you’ll only be jumping up onto a platform and then gently stepping down. This is done to help familiarize your body with proper landing mechanics, without immediately subjecting it to the types of forces generated by jumping up and over an object. After 3 to 4 weeks of this (with training sessions being administered, on average, about twice per week), you’ll then progress to what are know as “stick jumps”. As the name would imply, these require you to jump up and over an object (usually a cone, or hurdle) and then stick the landing.
Among the most important things to note here, is that you stick the landing with the same amount of flexion in the hips knees and ankles that you started with. In other words, if you quickly descend into a quarter, or even half squat position to jump over a given object, that’s approximately how much of a squat you should be in when you land. If, upon making contact with the ground you feel your hips are at a lower level than they were at take off, you may need to more strengthening work (particularly of the eccentric variety), before repeating this drill again. Assuming that you are landing properly, another 3 to 4 weeks of training, including both bilateral and unilateral jumps should set you up nicely for the third and final stage- repeated bounding.
With these, the objective is to make consecutive jumps over a series of objects that are spaced anywhere from about one and one half, to two feet apart (exactly how far apart will depend on a variety of factors such as your size and strength, whether you’re doing bilateral, or unilateral jumps and whether you’re jumping linearly, or laterally). Here, the goal is to be very quick off the ground and have what’s known as a fast “amortization” phase. What you wouldn’t want to see in this final phase is anything that looks like you’re sticking to the ground, or are in any way delaying transferring the elastic energy from one landing into the next jump. If you notice this to be the case, consider adding another week, or two to your second phase and continue working on strength.
Please note that in the video below, all of the jumps being shown are linear (or straight ahead). You should also be sure to add some lateral (sideways) jumps into your program as well, as the landing forces are somewhat different and athletes will often be forced to land this way during actual sports participation. In terms of training volume, you want to measure your plyometric jumping drills in what are known as foot contacts- with every time your foot comes into contact with the landing surface counting as one repetition. How many foot contacts you actually do per session will depend largely on your level of training experience and whether you’re doing low, moderate, or high intensity drills.
Here’s a quick classification of the drills featured below:
Low Intensity Drills: Bilateral (Two-legged) Jump Ups, both linear and *lateral.
Moderate Intensity Drills: All types of Stick Jumps, as well as unilateral Jump Ups.
High Intensity Drills: All types of Repeated Bounds.
*Note: The platform used for the two-legged lateral Jump Ups should be slightly lower than the one used for the linear jumps.
You can also use the following chart to help gauge your training volume in terms of number of foot contacts per training session:
|Level||Low Intensity||Med. Intensity||High Intensity|
Keep in mind, with these types of drills it’s all about quality! Plyometrics are not something you want to do for lots of reps. Once and athlete begins to show even the slightest sign of fatigue, technique suffers and injury potential increases exponentially. So, be sure and allow for adequate recovery time between drills. This will vary from one athlete to the next and depend on the intensity of the drills being used, but figure on somewhere between 90 seconds to 3 minutes rest between each set.
Keep an eye out for the final installment of this series where I’ll go over the proper execution of various upper body plyometric drills. Those of you looking for a more powerful shot will definitely want to check it out! In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]
*Note: Credit goes out to renowned strength and conditioning specialist Mike Boyle for developing this protocol.
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