Note: Refer to COREFX Plyometrics Training Blog Part 3 for a Landing Mechanics primer
Control, precise landings, body alignment through the spine and proper knee/foot alignment are keys. Though one should land with an almost simultaneously, flat-footed landing, the ball of the foot may contact the box just before the rest of the foot comes in contact with the landing surface. Identify form breaks–or movement faults–as it relates to maintaining spinal alignment and proper knee/foot (no medial collapse) alignment when moving dynamically. Maintain good scapular position by externally rotating your shoulders and driving your shoulder blades (scapulae) into your back pockets. Establish a positive angle by using an “athletic” or “warrior” stance when landing on the box.
Landing Mechanics Exercise Progressions
Plyo Box Jump On-Jump-Jump-to Hip Dominant Squat/Step Off Backwards
Power onto the “box” with a quiet landing. Perform two vertical jumps. Land the second jump softly in a glute dominant (hips back) squatting position (jump, jump, squat). Hold the landing position/squat for 2-seconds. Step off backwards and repeat.
Teach what you see on the clip with regard to knee (knees out) and spinal positioning. Avoid the dreaded “fold” from the waist and valgus knee collapse. Maintain the quality of movement and your starting alignment (assuming it is correct) from start to finish. Also, focus on quality over quantity of movement with regard to number of repetitions. After landing, step off the “box” backwards and repeat.
Plyo Box Jump to Single Leg Landing/Step Off Forward
Jump onto the “box” landing on one foot. Step off the box forward and drop to a 2-foot landing on the floor. Absorb the force with your muscles and maintain knee alignment; avoid valgus/inward collapse. Land in a hip dominant - hips back - position. The athlete must develop the eccentric strength and neural movement pattern to control both the single and bilateral landing forces, while maintaining perfect position. Repeat the sequence.
Stair Step Jumps—to 2-footed Drop/Land
Use two different sized “boxes” (i.e. 20” and 30” box - COREFX 3-in-1 Plyobox). Create your jump-line with the shorter box leading to the taller box. To execute the line of travel, begin on the ground behind the smaller box. Jump onto the small box. Explode quickly off the small box, spending as little time as possible on the box. Land quietly on the higher box, with the body positioned correctly. Off the tall box, drop two a 2-footed landing, executing proper landing form. Coordinate arm drive (no movement at the elbow) forward to propel movement onto the box and reset the arms when landing on the floor, to prepare for the next drive onto the box. This variation is similar to a depth jump, but is generally safer and less demanding.
Rotary Hip Block Progression (core-centric plyo effect)
Utilizing the COREFX toner, stand with your “hands-back”; ankles, knees and hips are flexed to pre load the muscles and fascial system; then, extend through the ankle, knee and hip, still keeping the arms back; be patient and finish triple extension of the ankles, knees and hips as the weight shifts to the front foot; block the hips by “setting” the front foot; progress to a block w/ heel release and rotation (hands stay back); and finally, progress by allowing the hands to move through after rotation; use heavier loads to increase challenge, but be sure to maintain the power (speed) element and plyo-effect by being able to move the load quickly. Return to the start position and repeat the entire movement or focus on specific parts of the sequence; perform on both R/L sides of the body.
Take off, landing, body control, knee/foot alignment and core bracing strategies must be mastered before moving to more complex and intense lower body plyo activity. Mastering these important skills will go a long way in fostering the timing, rhythm, power development and landing mechanics necessary for proper and safe plyo progressions. High-level capability also makes the activity safer and more fun! Perfect movement execution is always the rule.