T Nation

Places To Do Depth Drops/Jumps

I’m going to start incorporating depth drops into my training, but I dont have access to a box. Does anyone have any experience with or ideas about other ways to do them?

I was thinking about using stairs (stepping off the 3rd or 4th step down to the landing).

[quote]Heuristic wrote:
I’m going to start incorporating depth drops into my training, but I dont have access to a box. Does anyone have any experience with or ideas about other ways to do them?

I was thinking about using stairs (stepping off the 3rd or 4th step down to the landing).

[/quote]

Stairs doesn’t sound good because the bottom of stairs is usually something hard and you don’t want to do depth jumps on a surface that doesn’t give.

Park or playground benches are good but can be too high for people new to plyo. If its too high for you, just build your own platform with a thick piece of plywood and a 4 appropriate lengths of 4x4. The hardware store will even cut your wood for you if you don’t have your own tools.

I have to disagree; the purpose of depth jumps is to learn how to absorb shock. You want the surface not to give. You should probably even do them barefoot if you can.

If you have a step ladder, you can jump off of that. Steps would probably work for lower drops.

[quote]smallmike wrote:
I have to disagree; the purpose of depth jumps is to learn how to absorb shock. You want the surface not to give. You should probably even do them barefoot if you can.

If you have a step ladder, you can jump off of that. Steps would probably work for lower drops.[/quote]

ofcourse you need a surface that doesnt give out. landin on hard surfaces would kill ur knees trust me. try places like grass, most gyms have rubber flooring so that would be great. those are the only 2 places that i do my depth drops.

By surfaces that give I mean grass or dirt, like things that aren’t hardwood, concrete or metal. Do you still disagree?

I agree that it feels better to do them on surfaces like grass and dirt rather than concrete or hard wood (in fact, I usually do my drops outside on a dirt surface just because it is convenient), but from my understanding of depth drops, the best option would be to find the hardest surface available.

If the surfaces are fairly level so you don’t twist an ankle, and don’t have anything that could cause cuts or abrasions, then the difference between types of surfaces is just the force they can absorb. Grass absorbs more force than concrete, so less force is transmitted to the legs. You could get the same force-lowering effect by just lowering the height you are dropping from.

So hurting the knees is not dependent upon the surface, but rather upon the force generated. If your knees are hurting, it is because your legs could not absorb the force, not because the surface was concrete.

I’m still learning about this stuff, so my explanation might have been confusing, but this is how I understood depth drops.

I just do my depth drops and jumps off a folding “A” frame ladder.

As for the surface, I think it depends on how well you can absorb the landing force. Most people are comfortable landing on carpet, grass, or other, more forgiving, surfaces, while I myself use concrete, and do it barefoot. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. Initially, however, you should start off with a softer (though not soft) surface.

[quote]RJ24 wrote:
I just do my depth drops and jumps off a folding “A” frame ladder.

As for the surface, I think it depends on how well you can absorb the landing force. Most people are comfortable landing on carpet, grass, or other, more forgiving, surfaces, while I myself use concrete, and do it barefoot. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. Initially, however, you should start off with a softer (though not soft) surface. [/quote]

I’m new to depth jumps. But couldn’t I start with a hard surface and a relatively low height?

[quote]Heuristic wrote:
RJ24 wrote:
I just do my depth drops and jumps off a folding “A” frame ladder.

As for the surface, I think it depends on how well you can absorb the landing force. Most people are comfortable landing on carpet, grass, or other, more forgiving, surfaces, while I myself use concrete, and do it barefoot. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. Initially, however, you should start off with a softer (though not soft) surface.

I’m new to depth jumps. But couldn’t I start with a hard surface and a relatively low height?
[/quote]

Yes, you could. Still though, depending on your lower leg strength and your training beforehand, doing drops onto concrete, even at low heights, might not be the thing for you. Initially, there may be no problems, but when using a hard surface there’s less room for error.

I say go for it, if all you have is concrete to land on. However, be careful to stay at heights you can easily absorb, and only progress when you’re good and ready. If you try to rush things, you’ll end up with sore knees and shin splints.

I just stack those aerobic boxes.
I use them for box squats as well. They are the best.

[quote]smallmike wrote:

If the surfaces are fairly level so you don’t twist an ankle, and don’t have anything that could cause cuts or abrasions, then the difference between types of surfaces is just the force they can absorb. Grass absorbs more force than concrete, so less force is transmitted to the legs. You could get the same force-lowering effect by just lowering the height you are dropping from.

So hurting the knees is not dependent upon the surface, but rather upon the force generated. If your knees are hurting, it is because your legs could not absorb the force, not because the surface was concrete.

[/quote]

Thats theoretical.
In reality the landing force isn’t distributed evenly across your foot. Jump onto soft dirt or sand and then look at your footprint, your heels go deeper than the ball.

When you jump on a hard surface it forces the foot to land flat and the heel takes on a larger percent of the shock than it normally should and the change in landing angle slightly askews the leg joints. So you are sending the force through a different pathway when jumping on hard surfaces than when you jump on soft ones.
Jumping on hard surfaces isn’t hardcore, its unatural. Did you happen to get your information on depth jumps from a basketball coach?

Again, I think force is the main factor. Jumping on a hard surface will not necessarily cause the heel to hit the ground if you jump from a low enough height (decreasing the force), just as jumping on a softer surface does not necessarily allow you to stay on the balls of your feet if you jump from a high enough height (increasing the force).

At the proper height for a depth jump, the heel should not absorb more of the shock. It can hit the ground momentarily, but if the heel ends up absorbing a lot of the shock, it just means your legs couldn’t take the force. You should try to stay on the balls of your feet and let your muscles/tendons absorb the shock, not the bones (as would happen if you absorb the shock with your heel).

I agree with RJ that a benefit of jumping on a softer surface is that it leaves more room for error, but this can be a negative when you start dropping from high heights.

So I’m not advocating hard surfaces just to be “hardcore”. Although I probably do need a basketball coach; I really suck at basketball.

Yeah, I’m inclined to agree with Mike here.

Texass, if your heels are absorbing the majority of the force from drop jumps, you’re doing them horribly wrong. The weight is supposed to land entirely on the forefoot and if you’re unable to keep your heels from touching the ground, or if your feet make a slap upon impact, you jumped from too high and are unable to absorb the force.

Personally, I can do 46" drops quietly on to concrete without my heels so much as faultering downwards an inch. It all depends on one’s personal capacities.

[quote]RJ24 wrote:
Yeah, I’m inclined to agree with Mike here.

Texass, if your heels are absorbing the majority of the force from drop jumps, you’re doing them horribly wrong. The weight is supposed to land entirely on the forefoot and if you’re unable to keep your heels from touching the ground, or if your feet make a slap upon impact, you jumped from too high and are unable to absorb the force.

Personally, I can do 46" drops quietly on to concrete without my heels so much as faultering downwards an inch. It all depends on one’s personal capacities. [/quote]

You’re talking about landing on your toes? I thought we were talking about depth jumps where you stick it, not setting up for a rebound.
I know that I’m not landing horribly wrong because I’ve been tumbling for over a decade and haven’t hurt myself besides the occasional expected ankle sprain.

I believe the heels shouldn’t hit during a depth drop. You don’t need to land on the toes, but on the balls of the feet. When doing a depth JUMP (when you land and then rebound into a jump), the heels are going to hit a little bit or else your jumping mechanics are going to be screwed up.

[quote]texass wrote:
You’re talking about landing on your toes? I thought we were talking about depth jumps where you stick it, not setting up for a rebound.
I know that I’m not landing horribly wrong because I’ve been tumbling for over a decade and haven’t hurt myself besides the occasional expected ankle sprain.[/quote]

No, even when you just stick the landing, the weight is supposed to fall on the ball of your foot, not the heel. Any weight that contacts the heel is absorbed entirely by the local skeletal structure, and not the muscles or tendons. This is not a good thing. You may land on your heels while “tumbling”, but if I’m not mistaken, tumbling is always done on a padded or spring-loaded surface. Unfortunately, this is not the case with most other sports. If you absorb force through your heels on concrete or even hardwood, it’s not going to be comfortable.

And what do you mean by “expected ankle sprains”? Injury should not be an expected part of training, and if you get injured while training, you’re doing something wrong.