Explosive Change-of-Direction Using the Lateral Box Jump

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Think you need to run miles in order to dribble circles around your opponents on the basketball court? Well, take a seat and pay attention, 'cause the doctor is in and he has a new prescription for your conditioning routine.

Dr. Marcus Elliott, owner and director of P3 (Peak Performance Project, Santa Barbara, Calif.), whose clients include professional athletes from MLS, NFL, AVP, and the NBA, says, "Most people in basketball think that conditioning is the ability to keep running the floor. In fact, conditioning is training athleticism and explosive change in direction through anaerobic endurance, in order to be at the top of your game."

Explaining the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercises, Dr. Elliott says, "Aerobic athletes create energy for lower intensity exercises, such as distance running, usually [at] somewhere around 70 to 75 percent of their max amount of energy. Anaerobic endurance is pushing above that percentile, creating high force energy with high intensity work, such as agility and speed drills, for extended periods of time, and then recovering fairly quickly and repeating it."

"We don't like our basketball players training aerobically, because it inherently makes them slower and takes away their jump," he concludes.

The Lateral Box Jump is one exercise Elliott prescribes for his clients in order to measure their anaerobic endurance, both before and after they start training at P3.

Lateral Box Jump
• Begin facing forward in low athletic stance on either side of a 12-inch box
• Laterally jump onto box and quickly jump down to other side
• Repeat box jump back over to start side
• Continuously jump back and forth for 1 minute
• Rest for 3 minutes
• Repeat drill on an 18-inch box

The goal of the drill is to make as many touches as possible on the box. Each jump equals 1 rep. For elite high school and college athletes, the targets are 50 touches on the 12-inch box and 40 on the 18-inch box. NBA players average over 60 and 50 touches, respectively.

If you're unable to reach your goals, reduce rest time when performing high intensity exercises to improve your overall endurance. For example, instead of 1.5 to 2 minutes rest, reduce to 45 seconds to a minute rest time.

Coaching Points: Use your arms to help explode up onto the box // Keep body facing forward the entire time // Keep knees bent to help cushion the landing

Benefits: Elliott says, "It is a simple test for anaerobic endurance—the type a basketball player needs in order to create energy for high force movements like sprinting or cutting back and forth, then having to recover in a short period of time, then do it again, and again. That is essentially what the sport of basketball consists of."

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock