I'm coming to grips with the fact that I'll never throw down a Blake Griffin, backboard shattering, monster dunk.
Like most young male athletes this was always a dream of mine. I don't know if I just never believed it could happen or realizing the dream just didn't make the top priorities list (in adolescence, girlsoccupied priorities 1-5 so I can see how there wasn't much room). Despite never reaching my vertical potential jumping has always been a movement freedom I appreciated. I still love it and train it with more intention and respect than ever.
There's something about escaping the physical law of gravity, however brief, that gives me a deeper sense of freedom. I think most people intuitively understand this and that's why they'll hurl themselves into the air and paying little mind to coming back to the ground. And this lack of mindfulness is why many people lose their jumping privileges at some point, the stress is just too great.
All glory and no preparation is going to shorten your time in the game.
But, as always, you have a choice - jump until some structure breaks/wears out or take the time to refine efficiency and skill.
If you read my writing for long enough, you'll come to understand my perspective that the purpose of moving is to cultivate a sense of freedom. While jumping will elicit some badass training adaptations, I remain focused on the process of jumping. Seriously, stop for a minute and really try to appreciate all that goes into a broad jump. Proper loading of the extensor chain, forward displacement of center of gravity, vigorous arm swing, powerful triple extension, cycling of the legs and arms, coordinated ground contact, and redistribution of center of gravity over base of support. Sorry you had to read that, especially if it sounded like gibberish. The point is the process is really complex, respect it. Once you respect it, you can train it properly.
So here's a short clip on how I train jumping. Not because my goal is to posterize Kevin Durant, but because I want to keep my skills sharp. This means proper sequencing and total control of where and how I land. This means jumping with the goal of adaptability in mind. There are so many elements to a clean jump, but rather than bog you down in minutia, just consider a few tips and practice, practice, practice.
- Create context. It's not enough to jump you should be focused on what goes on before and after the jump. Bumper plates, wooden boards, chalk, or tape are all ways to create targets. This kind of context places a greater demand on your precision and efficiency.
- Conservative practice. Practice at a conservative distance to insure you body is learning the sequence not just tolerating the abuse of high impact.
- Mindful movement. Pay attention to what you are doing without judging your performance. Stop WODing for 10 minutes and really pay attention to making each jump high quality. Each attempt, success or fail, is education for the body if your mind is present.
- Embrace the process. There are many components and variations of jumping and you must spend time feeling all the pieces - forward lean, arm swing, cycling, absorption,etc... This process takes a lot of exploration, mistakes, trial & error, and patience.
My hope is to give you some ideas for expanding your practice beyond conditioning to attain a higher degree of skill, understanding, and movement freedom. I'm happy to answer your questions or receive your comments below. See you next time.