Dynamic Youth Fitness: Wall Jump

Here’s a look at girls performing the wall jump. They are asked to jump off of two feet using their arms to propel them upwards, and to land quietly on both feet. Then to spring up again. Their verbal cue is to jump “straight as an arrow” and to land “light as a feather.” This is a fitness challenge for some at the end of 30 seconds; they begin to fall behind the rhythm of the group, their form falters, their jump height diminishes, they land off balance.

This is an opportunity to instruct athletes on proper jumping form. Girls tend naturally to bend at the waist rather than at the knees as you can see in the girl on the far right. (white t-shirt, black shorts) Prompting them to keep their heads up on landing helps shift their weight backward and encourages knee bending rather than the “folding forward” that calls upon already strong quadriceps muscles and stresses knees.

The wall jump can also be used to diagnose imbalances in strength. When the right leg is  stronger, they tend to list to the left, and vice versa. You can see the slight tilting in the air of the two girls in the middle (one in yellow shorts, one in light blue t-shirt). Both favor their right side in take off.

Most important for girls: teach them how to quiet their landings by bending their knees to act as a cushion. The quiet landing is a great source of individual auditory feedback for them, as they can’t “see” their form and may not sense their tendency to absorb the landing shock with straightened leg. Bent knee landings and the recruitment of the hamstrings to bend on lift and landing are keys to keeping their knees healthy and safe from injury.

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