“We must learn to jump off the ground and properly land on the ground before we attempt to minimize the time spent on the ground.” – Mike Boyle
Most strength programs do a great job at training acceleration through speed work, traditional plyo’s and Olympic lifting, but don’t put the same amount of time and focus on deceleration even though we know deceleration (or the inability to) is typically an underlying cause in most non-contact injuries like an ACL.
One major key to developing more resilient and durable athletes is having a well planned and laid out plyometric progressions that teaches an athlete both jumping and landing skills before getting into what most would consider traditional plyometrics. Doing otherwise might develop an athlete that can jump out of the gym but is at an injury risk due to being unable to absorb force properly.
Our typical Hurdle Jump progression looks like this:
1: Box Jump: The first thing we want to teach someone is to jump and land quietly without any type of reactive component. The athlete should be able to jump and land from the same position. If you can’t do this, you aren’t ready for any of the next steps. If you skip this step you are basically asking to get hurt.
2: Hurdle Jump w/ Stick: A great way to teach an athlete to accept force and land with proper landing mechanics by simply adding the landing from our box jump. It’s extremely important to learn to develop eccentric strength and stability. The goal is to land soft and absorb the ground.
3: Hurdle Jump w/ a mini-bounce: We finally add a reactive portion to the jumping with a mini-bounce. This allows a short contact time with the ground but still not a true traditional plyometric.
4: Continuous Hurdle Jump: Finally what most people would think of as traditional plyometrics. The goal now is to minimize the time spent on the ground while maintaining proper landing mechanics as well as landing quietly.
Don’t be in a rush to get through the progressions so you can get to the most sexy jumping. Build the foundation that will lead to long term success.