Box Jump Fallacies : Performance Jumps vs Performing Jumps
By Chase Cichos
Over stacking the height of a box jump is like adding tons of plates on a leg press machine, to the untrained eye it may seem like an overwhelming stack is impressive, but as a high performance coach there are certain details I am looking for in a box jump. The box jump is a plyometric movement that helps build explosive power, rate of force development, and it’s a great way to prime the nervous system for the work ahead. I’ll tell you the exact details of what I look for when my athletes perform a box jump. One thing I need to clarify for this article is the height of the box means absolutely nothing to me.
When I say the height of the box means nothing to me I mean that typically when over stacking a box jump the athlete finishes in a deep squat with the knees by his ears, this shows awesome hip mobility, but does nothing for what I am looking to accomplish with my athletes. I would rather my athlete land with their knees slightly bent while standing up straight. I am looking for a full hip extension which is why I cue my athletes to act as if they are jumping over the box, not to it. I tell them to imagine they are putting their head through the ceiling, to land on it with light feet so their muscles absorb the load. Remember, the reason I’m using the box jump is for performance, I never use them for conditioning or anything of that nature.
It is a vital part of my programming to implement the psychological factors behind an athletes need to strength and condition. So I can’t help but question the psychological factors I see behind coaches who program their athletes to over stack their box jumps.
I guess the only thing I can liken this to is: a false narrative of box height means you’re more explosive, or you get more likes and views on Instagram when you do very high box jumps.
You’ll get even more when you bust your ass from falling.
The psychology behind my programming is simple. When working with athletes, KEEP THEM HEALTHY! You want to know their best ability? It’s AVAILABILITY! If you’re working with combat sports athletes, it is important to remember that the training they do involving kicking, punching, and grappling is high risk and an S&C coach should not elevate that risk in order to get likes and views.
With regards to a fight camp, I realize that I am not the most important factor in a fighter’s preparation, rather I am a piece to a complex puzzle. My role is important and the most important part of my role is doing my part in keeping them healthy. The work I do should complement their skills training for speed and power , not take from it.
One of the reasons I use the box jump is to take a lot of the load off the joints while landing from jumps. I also train absorbing load with depth drops and other deceleration drills, but I’m well aware of the load this yields and I manage it accordingly. I always ask myself this question when programming, “Can I get the same adaptation, or benefit, I’m trying to get in a safer way?” If the answer is yes, I reconsider what I’m doing.
As you can see I am passionate about developing programming that helps out combat athletes and take it personally when programming for these athletes is more harmful than helpful because of what I perceive to be egotistical reasons.
So to recap….
When using box jumps, focus more on the movement.
- Are they extending the hips?
- Are they jumping as high as they can?
- Are they landing as safe as possible?
- Is this adding a risk to injury by being too high of a box?
If you can check these things off, then move forward knowing that you thought about what you are doing and you’re not just doing things for the hell of it and speed and power.
Chase Cichos started his training career interning with PJ Nestler and Scot Prohaska in Southern California. He has worked with a variety of athletes from different sports, including UFC, NFL, NHL, collegiate and high school. He currently works at the Checkmat Headquarters in Long Beach, CA and IFC gym in Huntington Beach, CA.
Follow Chase on Instagram --> @chaseyourdreams247