How to Do Box Jumping Without Worrying
Every box jump involves a leap of faith. You will probably land on a box, get back on your feet, and not end up in one of those box-jumping error compilation videos (seriously, don’t google). But how do you convince your brain and body that you are in for a solid fit?
Start with a smaller box
No, smaller. Find a box in the gym that is so tiny and cute that it doesn’t even scare you. Maybe it’s a 20-inch box instead of the 24-inch you were trying to use, or maybe you’re not box-ready at all and are going to start with a 4-inch aerobics step. We all have to start somewhere.
If you’re totally in tune for any height, find something visual that doesn’t add height, like a yoga mat. Jump onto the mat as if it were the tallest box in the world: you go up, you go down, you land right in the middle of where you need to be.
This is not only for your confidence, but also so that you can work on your form. Super high box jumps are impressive, but they have more to do with hip flexion (pulling up the knees to free the box) than jumping ability. It’s better to jump high above the box, landing softly in the center on the way down, than just stepping over the edge.
Visualize your landing
Get to know the box. It’s not enough to know how many inches, or to see where the box is – you need to know in the deepest circuits of your brain exactly where your landing site will be. Scott Herman, who can jump 52 inches,recommends not just touching the box, but standing on it to really feel where it is in space.
While you’re there, strike a pose. Find where you want to land – right in the middle of the box – and stand there as if you had just landed. The legs are slightly bent, the weight is in the middle of the foot. A good rule of thumb is to land in the same position you started from.
By the way, don’t be afraid to jump. It is safer for joints and tendons if you step down rather than jump, especially if you do a lot of reps or if your box jumps get very high.
Film a video
You may be worried about hitting your knees on the way up, or scratching your shins when you fall. Make a video of you doing your best jump, if you can, in slow motion. Then see what actually happens. I used to worry that my start position was too far away from the box, but the video convinced me that I was traveling a sufficient distance forward and this was not a problem.
If you are feeling really brave, take a look at some ofthese videos about unsuccessful box jumps . You will notice that they each have a fatal flaw that you can avoid, and you will start seeing the same warning signs over and over again. If a person’s toe catches on a corner of the box and falls forward, it is usually because they are tired of jumping too many to jump high enough. (Or they chose a box that was too high to start with.) But you know to use a smaller box and keep it in good shape.
Or, if someone falls on the other side of the box, it is usually because they forgot to stick to the landing. You should land straight down, fall from the air to the landing position you visualized, and then stand up again. You wo n’t land on the far side of the box and flip it over. You will not land with a jerk that will cause you to roll over. You will land softly, like a cat, as you did.
Talk to yourself
The moment before takeoff is very important. You have a small box in height, you can land and you know what to do. Make a routine for yourself: perhaps rearrange your right leg, then your left, then inhale, then sit down and wave your arms – or whatever works for you.
If the box is solid wood with sharp edges or rubbery with soft edges, remind yourself that you are going to take off straight and land right in the middle, so it doesn’t matter which edges.
If this is one of those metal-legged platforms, imagine a solid wood box under the platform. These metal legs are just a useless skeleton, and they won’t get in your way.
Remember how solid you landed every time you practiced before, because you’ve been practicing tons of time on lungs, low boxes, right? Th to come off. Good luck with the landing.