Back to Basics: Improve Your Jumping & Improve Your Performance

If a push-up is the most fundamental way to teach the three rules of movement, then jumping is our most fundamental glimpse into athleticism. All rules still apply – midline stability, loading order, laws of torque – but now we are adding speed and removing ourselves from a stable surface (the ground). This makes it more difficult to maintain our position.


Photo courtesy of Nate Archambeau

1) Midline Stability – As we swing our arms back and forth, our spine needs to remain unchanged and not move with our arms.

2) Loading order – remember, whatever bends first carries the most weight. So in this case our hips need to bend back first, keeping our shins vertical (like our forearm in a push-up).

3) Laws of torque – when we bend our hips, they are in flexion. Any time a joint is in flexion we need to create external rotation for stability. In this case, knees out created the external rotation at the hip. Furthermore, feet straight creates even more torque at the hips, so that is a must as well.
In the case of jumping, our loading position is also the same as our landing position, so the rules are the same for landing.

Now, it’s not often we have our athletes simply jump up and down in place. While it is a useful progression before moving on to other things, it does get pretty boring and difficult to measure. So coaches will incorporate different ways to jump like box jump, jump rope, and wall touch. The cool thing about jumping is that it’s a universal athletic movement. Every sport at the high school level will incorporate some kind of jumping and landing. So when we practice all the different variations of jumping in the weight room, all we have to do is understand those three principles. If those are obeyed, then the exercise is useful. If not, then we are just jumping rope for the sake of jumping rope. But here’s the other thing, the general movement pattern of jumping also applies to movements that don’t have the word “jump” in them. Most obvious of which is the kettlebell swing.

The kettlebell swing is simply jumping without leaving the ground. If you have an athlete with a lower-body injury that cannot take impact, a kb swing is a good substitute. It is also a good place to start when you notice a flaw in someone’s jumping mechanics. The same flaws in the swing are the same flaws that will manifest themselves when the athlete jumps, and other movements that have the same pattern. If you notice in the video above, the first kid is pulling with her arms before she uses hips, whereas the second kid is letting his hips do most of the work and his arms follow through. Interesting enough, both athletes show the same habit when doing cleans and snatches.

So just remember that we don’t generally want dead-end movements. We always want some elements of one movement to translate into something else. And with jumping and all its variations, there possibilities are more than enough.

Chris Sinagoga

Chris Sinagoga

CrossFit Coach at Champions Club, Inc.
Chris Sinagoga is the owner of the Champions Club/CrossFit Athletic Group whose obsession with coaching CrossFit is only surpassed by his obsession with the game of basketball. Chris is heavily influenced by MGoBlog and Hip Hop and writes for the Champions Club website. Among other prestigious credentials, he has achieved certified master status in both Pokémon Red and Gold versions.
Chris Sinagoga
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