Jun 27, 2018
Jump Strength

There’s no question that teaching sport specific skills is important to your team’s success. But just as important is helping your athletes become flexible and mobile enough to get in and out of any position necessary for their sport. A good way to do this is to incorporate foot speed and coordination drills into practice with a piece of equipment that most of your athletes are probably already familiar with — the jump rope.

In a blog for High School Strength, Mike Gentry, Ed.D., MSCC, CSCS, explains that even five minutes of work with a jump rope can lead to athletic improvement, better anaerobic fitness, and even increased confidence. How can coaches implement jump ropes into their programs? Gentry says to begin by making sure your players are using the correct length. When they stand in the middle of the rope, the ends should reach their armpits. If it’s slightly too long, one option is to roll the ends around the hands.

While many athletes have probably seen a jump rope before, there may be some who haven’t used one in a while or who haven’t ever used one at all. For these players, Gentry suggests stressing minimal arm swing and only jumping high enough that the feet clear the rope. Once the athlete has the rhythm down, they can being practicing with both feet for 2-3 sets of 10-15 seconds and 15-20 seconds of rest between each set. To make this more difficult, Gentry recommends jumping on one foot for 10 seconds and then switching to the other.

“Gradually introduce running in place or alternating feet, after single leg hops, then two jumps on the right foot and two jumps on the left, both feet side to side, both feet forward and back, gradually increasing difficulty over time,” he writes. “As the athletes become more proficient jumpers, you no longer have to let them rest between different types of jumps.”

Gentry typically places these drills in the beginning of the workout, after the dynamic warm-up and before abdominal and core exercises. Here is an example of a stationary rope jumping session from Gentry:

  • Both feet-10 seconds
  • Right foot-10 seconds
  • Left foot-10 seconds
  • Run in place-10 seconds
  • Two on the right, two on the left-10 seconds
  • Both feet-side to side 10 seconds
  • Both feet front to back-10 seconds
  • Speed jump (their choice)-20 seconds

If stationary jump roping becomes too easy for your athletes, they can progress to moving jump rope drills. It’s important to have enough space to implement this with multiple athletes at once, such as a gymnasium or large hallway. Gentry uses a jumping area that is 20 yards long with five yards to line up and stop at the ends. Some examples of moving jump rope exercises are running with high knees, double leg hops forward, double leg zig zag hops, and single leg zig zag hops. You could also have your athletes engage in double leg lateral hops, where they jump with two feet while moving sideways across a chosen area, or the backward double leg hop, in which athletes hop with both feet while moving backwards across a chosen area.

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