When I joined a basketball league years ago, I noticed that when I leaped for rebounds, my feet were almost cemented to the ground. When I sprinted around the court, it seemed like I was going in slow motion.
Clearly, I did not have the power to go as explosively as I needed. As we get older, we must be mindful to keeping our power, since research has revealed it goes down earlier and quicker than strength. A helpful movement I do to help myself and create that power is the excellent jump squat. Here’s how I do it:
When you start, your jump squat form is not so different from how you might do normal air squats. Get in the same spot with your feet about shoulder-width apart, but go down into the squat only so low that your butt is just above knee level for your jump squat.
You don’t want to lower yourself to the parallel spot so you sacrifice all your power. So bring your arms behind you so you are in a spot where you can swing your arms forward to give you more power. Keep your weight not on your heels but on the balls of your feet, and ensure that your glutes are active and ready to fire. You are now in what my mentor used to say was the “ready position,” so you can push up as high as you can and go for the sky.
Now it’s time to jump. Spring high from your ready position as quickly as you can. Your arms will naturally go forward and up, which helps you to reach as high as you can—as if you were going up to get a rebound in a basketball game.
The landing is just as crucial. You want an easy landing with the balls of your feet meeting the ground first. Bend at your hips and knees to your starting position to help absorb the force of you coming back to the floor or ground. Think of your legs as your shock absorbers. Your joints should not be rigid.
All you need to do now is bring together a set of jumps—but don’t rush it. Remember, power is your focus here, not speed. Ensure that you pause to reset before every rep.
Author: Blake Ambrose