Contrary to what some people may believe, there is a right and a wrong way to jump. Ignoring this fact and approaching a jump training program without understanding what mistakes you could make can cause injury and can hold you back from maximizing your jumping potential.
Five of the most common jump training mistakes are as follows:
- Failing to use your arms for momentum
- Jumping or landing unevenly
- Being too tense
- Failing to stretch before and after exercise
- Ignoring core strength training
While they may seem to go without saying, it is paramount to your success that you take heed and avoid making a costly and – unfortunately – sometimes debilitating mistake in your jump training endeavors.
1. Failing to Use Your Arms For Momentum
Imagine, for a moment, a bird sitting on the ground eating a worm. A dog barks nearby, and the startled bird reacts by leaping into the air, flapping its wings, and taking flight. Now imagine what would have happened if the bird’s wings were duct taped to its sides.
I am willing to bet that the dog would have had an easy time chasing the bird down, since the bird’s legs alone would not be enough to propel it safely into the sky.
The same goes for an athlete. There is a limit to what the body can do based on leg muscles alone. Some propulsion and momentum is required if maximum jump height is to be reached. This is where the arms come in.
By focusing energy into an efficient swinging of both arms at the same time the bent legs explode up into the jump, you can dramatically increase your jump height.
If you don’t believe this, try this at home or at the gym: stand next to a wall with your hands at your side. Bend your legs and jump as high as you can, having a friend measure the height of your jump. Next, jump again but this time use your arms as pendulum-like momentum.
Hands down, you will find that the increase from the first jump to the second will be absolutely dramatic.
2. Jumping or Landing Unevenly
Without balance, the power you generate while taking off in a jump and the solidness of your landing will be greatly compromised.
As most athletes have heard since they were young, having a good athletic stance (knees bent, feet approximately shoulder-width apart, etc.) is paramount to maximizing body control and capitalizing on the efficiency of your muscle movement.
If your limbs are all over the place, flailing as you jump, the inefficiency of that motion will detract from your upward movement.
Likewise, an unbalanced landing could result in injury, such as a rolled ankle.
To combat this, be sure to take off from a stance that is evenly balanced, with your weight dispersed equally onto both legs. Keep your body aligned, and focus on not adding extra motions to the jump.
Upon landing, focus again on body alignment, as well as on both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Also work to land on the balls of your feet, rather than your heels, as this will add to your balance and control.
3. Being too Tense
If your body is tense, your muscles will be working from an already-flexed state. This will keep them from being able to fully expand and contract, thus limiting the height of your jump.
Fight this tendency by taking a deep breath and making a conscious effort to relax prior to jumping. If an area of the body seems especially tight – common areas include the neck and shoulders – focus on relaxing those muscles individually.
It may also be a good idea to quickly squeeze those muscles to help aid in the relaxation process.
Another beneficial way to ward off unwanted muscle tension is to stay hydrated. As you exercise, your muscles develop small tears, and it is important to hydrate and keep vital nutrients and proteins in your system to help your muscles rebuild as quickly as possible.
4. Failing to Stretch Before and After Exercise
Just as water and nutrients help your muscled rebuild after exercise, stretching enables your muscles to maintain their flexibility and suppleness – a huge part of how effective your jumping will be.
If you fail to stretch, your muscles will remain in a perpetually tense and contracted state, and the next time you work out you will have to work just a little bit harder to overcome that “tight” feeling.”
To avoid making things harder on yourself and your muscles, take the time to properly stretch before and after you exercise.
There is typically no need for a drawn-out stretching regimen; usually a few focused minutes before working out is enough to “wake up” your body and prepare your muscles for activity, and a few minutes following your workout will help cool your body down nicely.
“Kinetic stretching,” or stretching while in motion, is a great way to quickly wake your body up while not risking over-stretching and possibly straining your muscles.
Professional sports teams, such as the Seattle Seahawks, have adopted routines that employ stretches like walking calf raises, walking lunges, and more.
Either way, bookending your jump program with simple stretches will go a long way toward helping you reach your jump training goals.
5. Ignoring Core Strength Training
Many people think that the body is made up of separate muscle groups, so that is how they train – by focusing solely on the area that they want to improve.
This narrow mindset does not take into account, though, how the body was made to function together as a whole, with each part helping the others function optimally.
The arm cannot move without back and shoulder muscles supporting it, and the leg cannot bend without help from its friends, the knee, the hip, and the back.
The “core,” which is the area of the body that encompasses the lower back, the abdominals, and everything in between, plays a huge role in the total body’s ability to function as a compact and efficient whole.
By focusing on this key area of the body, you will not only get stronger, but you will also enable your jumping to be more powerful, more stable, and more efficient.
If you want to bypass the mistakes that most people make when it comes to jump training and skip straight to guaranteed results, then the unique program set forth in The Jump Manual is all you need to find success.
Based in science and tested countless times, the program can help you reach your goals in record time, and find the road to maximizing your jumping ability.