If you’re looking for a phenomenal way to challenge your athletes’ strength, stability, coordination, landing technique and mental focus, I’ve got the drill for you. This drill has been a staple in our program not only as a fan-favorite amongst our athletes but, admittedly, our staff, as well. We call them Stability Ball Distracted Landings.
I flat out love these. I love coaching them. I love seeing our athletes take ownership in pushing themselves to new limits. It’s a really effective way to hammer home proper landing mechanics, which are an often-forgotten piece of the puzzle (click here if you need a refresher on what good landing mechanics look like).
Producing force is massively important to sports performance. Force production has a direct impact on speed, agility, jumping ability and overall athleticism. However, absorbing those forces safely and efficiently is equally as important. Every time an athlete produces force, it’s highly likely they will have to absorb that same force in one way or another—often in a different position from which they produced it.
We love this drill because it allows us to add slight amounts of resistance and improvisation upon the descent into landing. This helps us prepare our athletes for landing in all types of positions and under many different types of physical stress. The amount of distraction and location of distraction is totally up to the coach, but to be honest, a little goes a long way here.
We’re not necessarily trying to mimic a sports collision or situation. We’re not trying to completely interrupt the landing process, either. This is simply an added challenge to help an athlete master their landings with sound body control and spacial awareness. You can get as creative as you feel appropriate as far as how you scale and progress this drill.
This drill is incredible at teaching athletes of all experience levels how to manage their center of mass during an unexpected movement. The athlete knows a bump from the ball is coming, yes, but doesn’t know when or where or how hard that bump will come. Again, we’re not simulating sports specifically, just adding small doses of athletic context to a simple drill as a form of progression.
We like to include these on plyometric-based training days or as a central nervous system primer at the end of a dynamic warm-up. Don’t go crazy on volume here, I suggest using 3-4 sets of 3-5 jumps and keeping each rep intentional and crisp.
Photo Credit: technotr/iStock