Hope Solo, star goalkeeper of the United States Women's National Soccer Team, has captured the hearts and minds of sports fans across the world with her electrifying play. But Solo’s amazing ability at the Olympics and World Cup didn't come easy. It took years of intense labor, both in the gym and on the pitch.
One exercise that improved Solo's explosion and goaltending prowess is the Depth Box Jump With Ball. Fans see the on-field expression of this exercise whenever Solo leaps up toward the crossbar to punch an incoming shot out of the goal. The Depth Box Jump With Ball clearly played a role in developing her ability to explode in a split second to stop a ball headed for the net.
To perform the Depth Box Jump With Ball, begin by standing on top of a box. Step off with both feet, allowing yourself to drop to the ground. Keep your knees soft so that you recoil upon landing. Land with your feet shoulder-width apart, and don't let your feet or your knees turn in, advises Dawn Scott, U.S. Women’s National Team fitness coach. “You don’t want to put extra pressure on [your] knees [and] ACL.”
Immediately upon landing, jump back up as a teammate or coach tosses a ball over your head. While in the air, catch the ball and toss it back before landing. On the takeoff to grab the ball, Scott advises Solo to go quickly straight up onto her toes and explode off the ground. She throws the ball as soon as Solo lands on the ground to motivate her to jump a little higher with limited reaction time. Solo performs four sets of five reps.
Incorporate this exercise into your training and you’ll notice improvements in both your athleticism and soccer skills. Some day, you might even join the elite ranks of the high-flying Hope Solo, defending our nation’s goal!