Relatively daily in the athletics hall and sometimes on Facebook and Instagram we can see younger or older people and athletes who do box jumps in different styles and on different heights of boxes. Likely also for very different reasons.

Jump exercises are mainly used for developing jumping ability and explosiveness/power. Also for improving jumping technique.

Often, box jumps are done onto a maximal height box where one can only barely land on. That means that the landing position is a pretty deep squat position with a flexed spine also. That is almost never an optimal position for landing or for anything in sports really.

Bad landing position, the box is too high.

Coming down from the box people usually jump or fall down, with little or no control. Which means they still get the same (or even bigger) impact/load that could be avoided by using box jumps in the first place. Why the would you even use box jumps then?

People concentrate more on getting on to the box (that is too high), not on the jump itself (triple extension – from the hip, knee and ankle).

Firstly you should ask yourself, why are you doing this exercise. Do you actually know why and how to perform it and how to teach it to your students (if you’re a coach)?
Then, does the exercise itself and it’s technique and work to rest ratio fit for your goal?

Is it just a cool exercise that you saw somewhere, something that “has been done” or does it have a point?

Why and how to actually use box jumps?

First you should select a lower box, the so-called competition is not about who can lift their knees higher (hip flexion) and who has better mobility in their ankles. The goal is to jump as high as possible (hip height in relation to the ground), also landing with approproate technique. So, the jump height and quality is not determined by the box height, because you can jump at least as high without a box.

You should land in a nice half-squat like position, with a straight back (neutral spine) and do a controlled landing, finding your balance before getting off the box. You can take you arms behind you when you land, like preparing for the next jump or leave the arms in front of you as in an athletic ready position.

Before jumping, can you even land?

During landing, first you achieve contact with the ball of the foot, followed by the heel and then you brake your momentum with the calves, quads and hips.

Actually, before beginning jumping at all, one should practice landing, stepping off from a box and trying to stabilize in a nice landing position.

Normal landing position. Again, you can leave the hands in front of the body.

During the jump you should be concentrating on the previously mentioned triple extension, so every so-called jumping joint helps maximally towards the jump height.

What could a jumping position look like? Is your’s technically correct? Surprise, the push-off position is basically the same as the landing’s.

Normal push-off position.

When the take-off technique is not good, you can make a pause in the bottom position, making sure that the take-off position is okay. Back straight, nice joint angles (upper body about 45 degrees in relation to the ground), arms behind the hips, etc.

When coming down from the box, you should be stepping down, not jumping/falling.

The first dismount is not good (on purpose), the second one is nice and calm.

Actually, one of the only reasons to jump on a box is so the landing is not from a large height and the impact/load is much smaller. So for example due to the decrease in landing loads you could do more jumps instead. But if you jump off of the box after every jump onto the box, then you can might as well do your jumps without the box.

A nice controlled (with a pause) take-off position, nice jump, nice landing.

Box jumps are not the end goal, actually it’s a rather basic variation of jumping. It could be the second step, for example, after practicing landing with stepping off from a box. So, if you want to develop your jumping, don’t just stay on the box (and on two legs).

In conclusion

Don’t do box jumps for an (instagram) competition (unless, when competing for the best technique) or for conditioning training. It’s not very reasonable to do explosive exercises when fatigued.

Jump onto a relatively low/medium box, that you can land on nicely.

Coming down from the box, step down, don’t jump down.

Don’t stay with just box jumps forever (unless box jumping is your sport), it’s just one of the first and basic versions of jumping.

Thank you, guy on the photos and videos, tennis player Robin Parts!