Depth Jumps are one of the most popular advanced jump exercises used to develop explosive power. The most common way to execute a Depth Jump is by simply stepping off a box and jumping up as high as possible.
While this movement remains a staple in programs designed to enhance athletic performance, I believe a slight variation on the Depth Jump can further improve your reactive strength/elasticity.
Why is reactive strength an important quality for athletes?
Because explosiveness matters. Increasing your reactive strength will allow you to express more force in less time, giving you a better chance of blowing by, through, above or around opponents. Reactive strength is correlated with change-of-direction speed, and it's been shown to be a key differentiator between slow and fast athletes.
If you want to run faster, work on your reactive strength. A great exercise for boosting this "athletic elasticity" is the Depth Jump Over Hurdle. The addition of the hurdle helps athletes get used to jumping both up and forward, which is more realistic to how they'll express force in sport.
How to Perform the Depth Jump Over Hurdle
- Leading with one leg, step down (don't jump) off the box. You should land with your foot angled slightly ahead of your knee rather then directly below it.
- As soon as your feet touch the ground, explosively jump over the hurdle in front of you. When done right by a trained athlete, ground contact time will be very short (as in fewer than 0.2 seconds).
- The higher the box, the higher the ground reaction forces your body must withstand. Start with a low box and a low hurdle. Once that becomes easy, increase the height of the hurdle next. Once that becomes easy, gradually work up to a higher box.
- Using a box that is too high leads to longer ground contact times upon landing, which defeats the entire purpose of this exercise. Fast, reactive movement is what we're looking for here. For reference, I use 45-60 cm (18-24") boxes with most of my athletes.
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