One of the best ways for athletes of all ages and skill levels to develop their jumping ability is through plyometric exercises. Plyometrics are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force over short intervals of time with the goal of increasing power.
When applied specifically to jump training, the resulting increase in explosiveness can help athletes jump both higher and quicker, which can not only help them become more effective in sports like basketball and volleyball, but can also give them a competitive edge when jumping to catch line drives in baseball or softball or getting to the ball before defenders in soccer or football.
In this post, we'll run through some of the most effective plyometric exercises you can teach your athletes to help them improve their jumping ability:
- Medicine ball squat and press: Squat down, holding a medicine ball at chest level with two hands. When you reach the bottom of your squat, explode upwards, extending the knees, ankles and hips while pushing the ball overhead as high as you can. Let the ball bounce, then retrieve it and repeat.
- Plyo step-up: Place one foot on a jump platform, or box, with the other foot on the ground. Then, jump up off the box, driving explosively through the leg that started on the platform. Land with the same foot on the box, and repeat for a specified number of reps. Switch legs and repeat.
- Box jump: Start by standing in front of a box or jumping platform with your feet shoulder width-apart. Lower yourself into a quarter-squat then drive your legs and arms upwards as you jump onto the box. As you land, try to land lightly on the balls of your feet. Pause a moment, then jump back down backwards, landing where you began.
As you move through the workout, work with athletes to determine the proper heights to which they should be jumping. Remind them that completing the set safely is more important than risking injury to reach a greater height.