Anytime we are talking about increasing your vertical jump, the most effective plyometric exercise to do is the Depth Jump. If done correctly, this can add a few inches to your vertical jump in a short amount of time.
The Depth Jump is also often poorly performed by athletes. They are sometimes performed with too long of a ground contact time, bending the knees too much, and poor jumping mechanics.
WHAT IS THE DEPTH JUMP?
A Depth Jump is when an athlete steps off a box, lands on the ground, and immediately jumps as high as possible in the air, over a hurdle or onto another box.
This improves the stretch-shortening cycle, it’s a process to create power that occurs in your muscles. When landing, your muscles absorbs force and turns it into elastic energy. The transition period after landing is called the amortization phase – it is right before the explosive contraction to jump.
The more efficient your muscles can store elastic energy, and quickly convert that into a contraction, the more explosive you’ll be when performing any sprinting, jumping, throwing, etc.
HOW TO PERFORM THE DEPTH JUMP?
The first step is picking a box height to step off from. This should match the athlete’s level of ability to jump and land efficiently and properly. A more advanced athlete can use a higher box while a beginner-intermediate athlete should start with a lower box. Typically, anywhere between 12-40+ inches in height.
When getting off the box to start the jump, the athlete should not “jump off” the box but rather stepping off as if they were walking forward. The landing is important; generally the athlete should resist excessive bending of the knees. Bending the knees too much can reduce the reactive quality of this movement. The ground contact time should be short but never land with a fully straight leg.
The quick landing is followed immediately by jumping as high as possible with maximal effort. Using a hurdle or a high box is usually a good way to get the athletes to jump maximally with each attempt.
The depth jump is an advanced movement that should be done by athletes with weight room experience. This movement places a lot of stress on your joints and muscles. If you don’t have good technique or lack strength, it can increase your chances of getting injured.