We’re not born knowing how to jump. We don’t know how to walk or crawl either. Our bodies have to learn how to do everything.

Let’s go back. Some of you old heads, like me, will remember when computers came with that “C” prompt. Then we had to put in a Windows 95 or Windows 2000 disc to actually put all the programming on the computer, the operating system.

The human body operates similarly. We’re born with that “C” prompt – our primitive reflexes. The movements we learn while growing are our operating system. Our young athletes don’t have a choice as to the OS they get.

Showing a group of 4- to 7-year-olds how a few things about jumping.

Showing a group of 4- to 7-year-olds how a few things about jumping.

That’s up to us as coaches. We know fundamental movement. We know the progressions. We know that it starts with slight cervical rotation and flexion and can development into complex plyometric movements.

We can urge in earlier steps. We teach later periods.

Mirroring works well for the youngest folks, the 3- and 4-year-old athletes. Coaches simply need to make sure we’re doing it right, because they are analyzing and learning from our every movement.

For some of those 4-, 5- and 6-year-old athletes, it’s all the visual and auditory cues. Remember, we only have about four or five seconds coaching cues before they start tuning attention to the ladybug and the airplane.

“OK, now. Watch me! Sit back. Like a chair.”

Show them a proper hip hinge which tells the brain to activate the powerful posterior-chain muscles.

“Watch me! Watch me! Right here. Sit back like this. Sit back.”

Show the hip hinge again. Encourage them to do the movement with you.

“Sit back!”

Show again.

“Now push up! Rock and push!”

Shift your weight from the heels to the balls of the feet, and begin extending the ankle, knees and hips while simultaneously swinging the arms forward.

“Like this! Push the legs. Throw up the arms.”

Continue the same movement.

“Throw the arms! Throw the arms! Arms up! Knees up! Arms up! Knees up!”

Exaggerate it.

“Ok. Ok. Again.”

Show them all of it again, and simplify it.

“Sit back! Push! Arms up! Knees up!”

Show again. Then coach with cues as simple as those.

At this age: 3-7ish, the only real cue I have for landing (deceleration) is encouraging the athletes to land as softly as possible. Landing softly, more importantly, SHOWING them how land softly, forces them the proper way to use the muscles. We want them to land on the ball of their feet and allow the weight to roll to the heel. Knees and hips are both flexed, with the knees slightly in front of the hips, and the trunk is centered over the feet.

That’s what we want. To get it, “Soft landing.” “Land softly.” “Don’t hurt my ears.” “Ohhh, that was loud. Softer. Softer.” They all help.

JUMPING PROGRESSIONS BOYS

  • ·       Forward with one foot leading: 1-1.5 years
  • ·       Stationary with both feet: 1.5-2 years
  • ·       Off of a small step landing on both feet: 2-2.5 years
  • ·       Over or around objects: 2.5-3 years
  • ·       Forward with both feet taking off and landing: 3 years
  • ·       Single-leg hop: 4 years
  • ·       Single-leg hop with proper momentum leg swing: 5 years

JUMPING PROGRESSIONS GIRLS

  • ·       Forward with one foot leading: 1-1.5 years
  • ·       Stationary with both feet: 1-1.5 years
  • ·       Off of a small step landing on both feet: 1.5-2 years
  • ·       Over or around objects: 2-3 years
  • ·       Forward with both feet taking off and landing: 2.5-3 years
  • ·       Single-leg hop: 3-3.5 years
  • ·       Single-leg hop with proper momentum leg swing: 3.5-4 years

RETURN TO COACH MILO'S HOMEPAGE

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