Box Jumps vs. Depth Jumps

Box and depth jumps improve sports performance.
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Box jumps and depth jumps are effective exercises for training explosive and reactive power in athletes. Whether you’re a serious competitor or a weekend warrior, box jumps, depth jumps and similar exercises help improve your vertical leap and ability to push off the ground to make more powerful basketball dunks, volleyball spikes and golf, tennis and baseball swings.

Explosive Power

Explosive power is your ability to make a quick, powerful move in one direction, such as taking the first step off the line in football or the first move toward a tennis ball. Athletes train explosive power with exercises such as box jumps, box squats and one-legged split-squat jumps.

Reactive Power

Reactive power occurs when you coordinate two muscles or muscle groups to make a movement, such as the backward-and-forward core turn on a sports swing or the down-and-up movement on a slam dunk or spike. Depth jumps, shock jumps, bounding, sprinting, 1-2-3 jumps and other plyometric drills are effective methods for improving reactive power.

Box Jumps

To perform box jumps, start with a box, bench or other stable platform that’s about knee high. Stand in front of the box, close enough to jump onto it from a standing, not running, position. Jump onto the box with both feet. Repeat this exercise six to eight times, and perform three sets of the exercise during your workout. Raise the height of the box each week as you improve your jumping ability. A variation of this exercise is the one-leg, split-squat jump. Stand next to a box and place one leg onto it. Using your raised leg, push yourself into the air as high as you can. Repeat six to eight times.

Depth Jumps

Depth jumps are performed by standing on a box or other platform that’s equal to your best vertical leap, jumping off, then leaping into the air as high as you can. With any plyometric drill, you want to keep your feet touching the ground for as little time as possible, so as soon as your feet touch the ground, try to jump back up. Add shock jumps to your training using the same starting position you use for depth jumps. Jump off the box and try to land on the balls of your feet, “sticking” your landing by not moving after your feet hit the ground and maintaining your balance. Try to keep your heels off the ground when you land. Think of a gymnast dismounting a balance beam or uneven bars at the end of her routine.

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