From bouncing in our cribs to leaping over puddles, jumping is a natural movement. But when it comes to competitive jumping, you need proper training to soar with the best. Mike Pullins, head jumpers coach at the University of Southern California, gave us his workout recipe, which has produced seven All-Americans and four NCAA champions.
STACK: How often do you train for jumping events once the season begins?
Mike Pullins: We usually have a six-day window to work, and out of those six days…we do some form of jumping in three [or] four. It may not necessarily be just high jumping or long jumping, but some type of ballistic…force.
STACK: What aspect of jumping is most important for athletes to focus on?
MP: At USC, we emphasize the flight path, which is determined by what you do on the runway. We try to get them out of the mindset that focuses on what happens in the air. If you can’t get enough horizontal velocity, then at the point of take-off it doesn’t necessarily matter what style of jumper you are.
STACK: Can you walk us through a typical week of training?
MP: For a typical Monday, there is obviously some warm-up activity done in the program. I utilize…speed bands for more sprinting and resistance work, and use those to warm up our athletes. There are a lot of commonalities between long jumping, triple jumping and high jumping, so I train all three of them at the same time.
• Monday is a running day, with sprints ranging from 20 to 300 meters, depending on the time of season.
• Tuesday is when we really get into jumping and working on techniques. In the fall, it may not be event-specific, but more general, with box-jumping drills, bounding, all done with weights or resistance. I utilize [a lot] of hurdles to keep the athletes focused. Plus, it doesn’t make it boring for them to just simply start hopping across the grass.
• Wednesday we do stair running in the coliseum for an overload type situation, working back-to-back harder training days. This fall we used weighted vests for increasing the workload, and athletes are now using them for single-leg hops and stuff like that to strengthen their jump on Tuesday.
• Thursdays are…recovery day[s]. The first three days are when we actually warm the body up and work hard. Thursday is just mobility [and] flexibility type drills.
STACK: What can happen if a jumper overtrains for an event?
MP: First and foremost you’re going to get injuries. Tendonitis is an injury that a lot of jumpers get. You want to avoid some things that will overwork the tendons in order to prevent injuries.
STACK: How do you prevent such injuries?
MP: Generally if we go two days in a row [of working out], we have at least 24 hours of rest. [We’ll substitute] flexibility and core work. You want them to do heavy-type volume lifts on the same days. That way we avoid the overload principle. We are really attacking the patella area [to keep] those injuries to a minimum.
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