Dec 27, 2016
Power Through Jumps
Loren Landow

When it comes to training for improved performance, transfer of performance and minimizing injury is what it’s all about. When it comes to jumps, we’re talking about a directly applicable skill in most sports. Furthermore, jumps are an awesome display of relative strength, power, and raw athleticism.

In this post, we’ll review the difference between countermovement and static jumps, showing you how to implement each type for maximal performance.

Countermovement vs. Static Jumps

Counter-movement and static jumps might look similar, but the subtle differences are important. Think of static-jumps as a jump that shows static explosiveness and strength. A counter-movement jump displays an explosive transition from eccentric (negative) to concentric (positive or going up) and displays the ability to absorb, reverse, and generate force. Static jumps are the foundation skill whereas the countermovement adds complexity to your jumps.

First and foremost it’s important to ensure proper landing mechanics. Your athletes must earn the right to progress to countermovement jumps by landing each jump in safe position and full hip extension.

Jump Landing Mechanics

It doesn’t matter how hard you train — without attention to the body and joint mechanics, you’re grooving mechanics that open the door for injury to sideline your training. When it comes to jumping, the most important factor is grooving landing mechanics to prevent injury. By practicing sound mechanics on every jump you’ll reinforce good behaviors to take place in more chaotic, stressful environments like sports. Here’s what to look for:

  • Feet should be flat, rather than anterior weight displacement on the toes to allow an even distribution of forces.
  • Knees should be neutral, rather than in valgus or varus (diving in or diving out). This prevents the likelihood of knee injuries.
  • Abs braced: any rounding of the back and trunk shows a power leak that will cascade down the kinetic chain and place stress on the hips, knees, ankles, and feet while minimizing your jump height.
  • Eyes up, chest Up: If your head and drop drop when landing you’ll lose trunk engagement. As a result, your mechanics will be faulty down the kinetic chain, injury the risk for injury. When applying training directly to sport, landing with your eyes down will get you lit up by your opponents.
  • Pause and momentarily hold position at the top of the jump to reinforce optimal joint position.

Ensure Full Hip Extension

Specific adaptations occur based on the imposed demands, so if you want to improve your jumping performance, you must maximize hip extension for best results. Without full hip extension, you’ll limit the carryover to explosive lifts and athletic events, thus minimizing the training effect. Leave your ego at the door and look for a joint stacked position and alignment between the hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, and ear for full extension.

Two Jumping Methods to Elite Athleticism

Testing the Difference

How can you know if your athletes are performing the jumps correctly? By testing your vertical jump with both a static and countermovement jump you can gain insight onto the limiting factors with your athletes. Here’s how: Measure the athlete’s reach and have him or her perform a countermovement jump and a static jump. If the static jump is higher, it’s likely your athlete needs to improve explosiveness and moving sub-maximal loads faster. If the countermovement jump is higher, absolute overcoming strength may be the limiting factor. In this case, look to improve maximal strength and strength-speed to further enhance jumping ability. If they are the same, incorporate both static and countermovement jumps into training based on the demands of your athletes’ sport.

Wrapping It Up

Jumping is an essential movement for sports performance and the easiest method to improve explosiveness. That said, the degree of improvement you’ll make with jump training is directly related to the intent and execution of each jump, meaning it’s best to focus on high quality reps, rather than endless volume. Reinforce optimal mechanics, lift heavy, lift explosively, and jump based on the demands of your athletes sport for the greatest improvements in performance.

This article was originally published on the website of Elite Sports University (ESU) and is being used with permission from the organization. ESU is an online university that offers the latest scientific courses on strength and conditioning, speed agility, nutrition, and specialty classes for tactical coaches, LTAD, and personal trainers. ESU classes can be taken to fulfill CEU requirements, college credits, or to improve your knowledge base. More information is at:

Loren Landow, CSCS*D, MAT, USAW, NASM, is an instructor for Elite Sports University and an expert on biomechanics. More information about the organization is at:

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