One important area coaches continue to work on with athletes from kids just starting out in strength training up through the professional level is “How to Jump”. There are plenty of variations of jumping but let’s focus on the broad jump.
It’s important for young athletes as they develop an understanding of their bodies. Also critical for many professional athletes like football where this exercise can make them millions of dollars.
Unfortunately it’s also easy to overlook exercises like this or even teach athletes how to increase their jumps. Why?
Because it’s not very sexy! Most athletes, especially males, want to brag on their bench press, cleans or squats and those are important. Yet very few are bringing their broad jump distance to a bragging session.
What’s The Purpose
So why is this even important or why should you care?
In the simplest form the broad jump is a measure of explosiveness! How explosive are you in your legs! The further the athlete can jump shows how much explosion they have in their legs.
As mentioned before it’s, talked about most in the sport of football and at the NFL Combine. But this explosive power is critical for athletes across so many different sports.
Whether you’re jumping at the combine, jumping in basketball, firing out of the blocks in track, driving towards a shot in wrestling…
This type of explosive leg power is critical in your development and success.
Give Me The Tips
First, I want to go ahead and say that I will touch on a little of the science behind these 3 strategies you can add today. The most important piece to understand the WHY behind each.
Then if you want to have more of a scientific conversation drop questions to me directly or in the comments section.
Most people do not like all the “nerd talk” or as on my mentors labels it “techno babble”…
I wanna keep you around to read the entire piece!
Exercise #1: Tuck Jumps
What is it? Have your athlete standing in place and jump their knees to their chest, firing off the ground as quickly as possible. Depending on the type of day usually done in sets of 6-12…
When I am coaching them I hold my hands in front of me, at a challenging height for the individual and only count the rep if both knees touch my hands. It helps give them a specific target.
Make sure the athlete is spending as little time on the ground as possible. You do not want them to double hop or spend time getting set between each rep.
It is extremely important to have them getting their knees ABOVE their waist for the rep to count.
One thing you will see throughout each of these exercises is they all involve their hip flexors!
Athletes are missing out on potential inches added their broad jumps because of tight hips.
They tend to bend at their back before jumping rather than sinking their hips down/back to help propel them forward…
Within the tuck jump exercise it brings a lot of activity to the ABS and Hip Flexors. Both important for improving their broad jump.
Hint: for the young ones that struggle getting off the ground fast or struggle with a strong core I count based on just getting their knees above their waist. That’s the critical piece of the puzzle.
Exercise #2 Pause Squats
This exercise is a GAME CHANGER! I was fortunate enough to have been trained in college by Mike Barwis (Who Discovery Channel made a TV show about him on Strength and Conditioning) and Jerry Handley…
This exercise was a staple in their programs and because I saw the results I have since incorporated it into my programs…
What is it? Obviously several variations but I use the most with barbell back squats. With the barbell on your back, squat all the way down (full depth) and give a full 3 second pause before driving up to the top…
Different programs have different variations on how long to hold.
But by pausing at the bottom of your squat it forces different muscles to fire to drive you back up!
Many athletes whether in squat or bench press use the “bottom” of the lift to bounce the weight back up. This enables them to squat or bench press higher numbers, but we are working on being explosive!
Again extremely critical that the athletes squats at full depth for multiple reasons. First, I will get on my soap box again about tight hips. Squatting 600lbs by doing quarter squats so they can get their name on the board in the weight room is not ideal for performance.
Make sure they are getting DEEP! Because when actually performing their broad jumps again they want to sink their hips to fire many of the same muscles that fire after they hold the squat at the bottom.
Again this is probably one of my favorite exercises to incorporate within my programs!
Exercise #3: Stretch
I know I know! It’s not what you wanted to hear and if I had put it first you would have closed out the browser immediately!
It’s the first thing most athletes, especially kids, want to skip. As soon as they finish their training sessions they are ready to dip out ASAP!
I see far too many injuries especially the nagging type that can most likely be traced back to stretching.
Athletes with tight hamstrings, backs, ANKLES, HIPS and shoulders are big culprits for injuries!
I once was in their shoes and thought it never mattered and that “if I was strong or explosive that was that”…
But as I have mentioned in every single exercise throughout this article, tight hips are holding so many athletes back…
And if for some reason you do not care about your broad jumps those same “tight hips” are directly affecting your performance on the field, court or mat.
Take care of your body and it will take care of you!
I promise if you start stretching a little bit you will see a noticeable difference and understand that if you add this to your routine you will improve performance dramatically.
These are simple exercises that you can begin adding to your training programs now to improve your broad jump!
I know the idea of becoming more explosive is not as sexy as there are other things but there is a reason why every athlete does these exercises.
There is a reason why if it’s your first day training ever or training for the NFL Combine to make millions of dollars it goes back to basic fundamentals.
One of those fundamentals and foundations is building up an explosive athlete!
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