Many athletes perform Drop Jumps to enhance athleticism. It’s a great exercise to improve reactive strength, the ability to develop maximal forces in minimal time. Think of all the things in sport that happen under a time crunch—going up for a rebound first, beating a defender to catch a football or getting off the ground quickly to snag a rising line drive. A great deal of reactive strength is crucial for these sort of actions.
Drop Jumps (also known as Depth Jumps) undoubtedly enhance these abilities, but what’s the best way to perform them? A study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics examined how different coaching cues impacted Drop Jump performance. Here’s what they found and the big takeaway for coaches and athletes.
The participants were 13 recreationally active young adults.
The researchers had all participants complete a series of jumps. For our purposes, we’ll only look at two:
- A Drop Jump primed with the cue to jump “as quickly as possible” (QUICK)
- A Drop Jump primed with the cue to jump “as high as possible” (HIGH)
The researchers utilized force platforms to gather several key data points throughout the study.
Researchers found that bodyweight-normalized peak force was greater in the QUICK group than it was in the HIGH group, measuring 5.6 to 4.3, respectively. This means the participants produced significantly higher peak forces when primed with the cue to jump “as quickly as possible” than they did with the cue to jump “as high as possible.”
Researchers also found that time in upward propulsion was significantly shorter in the QUICK group than it was in the HIGH group, measuring .20 seconds to .34 seconds, respectively. This means the jump “as quickly as possible” cue also helped participants reduce their ground contact time more than the jump “as high as possible” cue.
By telling yourself to jump “as quickly as possible” on a Drop Jump, you develop greater peak force and shorten your ground contact time, two things reactive strength is greatly dependent upon.
When it comes to Drop Jumps, stop telling yourself to get as high as you can. Start telling yourself to get off the ground faster. If you’re a coach, share that message with your athletes. Repeat it while they’re performing their Drop jumps. Doing so can give you an edge over your competition.