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April 06, 2024 12 min read

Mastering jumping and landing mechanics is crucial for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Whether you're a basketball player going for a layup, a volleyball player spiking the ball, strength training, or simply someone looking to improve your fitness level, mastering proper jumping & landing technique mechanics can enhance performance and reduce your risk of injury.

But truth be told everyone of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from jump training due to the upstream effects it has on strength, explosiveness, balance, cardiovascular health, and mobility.

The good news is even if you don't do any jump training right now you can start small and still reap the rewards. In this article, we'll explore the key components of jumping and landing mechanics and provide tips and exercises to help you master these skills. Mastering proper landing technique is crucial for generating sufficient force for the next jump.

Proper landing mechanics, such as bending the knees and hips to absorb shock, can help reduce the risk of injury and improve the efficiency of movement, which can translate to better jumping performance, strength, and athleticism over time. By mastering the landing, individuals can develop better control, strength, and coordination, all of which are beneficial to help you jump higher, run faster, and lift more weight.

Benefits of Proper Jumping and Landing Mechanics

Learning jumping & landing techniques


Learning proper jumping and landing mechanics is important for several reasons including:

— Injury Prevention: Proper mechanics can help reduce the risk of injuries, especially to the knees, ankles, and lower back. By learning how to land safely and absorb impact, individuals can prevent strains, sprains, and other injuries.

— Improved Performance: Mastering these mechanics can improve overall performance in activities that involve jumping, such as sports (basketball, volleyball, etc.) and fitness activities (plyometrics, etc.). Proper technique can enhance power, agility, and coordination.

— Efficiency: Proper mechanics make movements more efficient, allowing individuals to use less energy while performing jumps and landings. This efficiency can improve endurance and reduce fatigue.

— Long-Term Joint Health: By reducing the stress on joints during jumping and landing, proper mechanics can help maintain joint health over time, reducing the risk of chronic issues such as osteoarthritis.

— Transferable Skills: Learning proper mechanics can transfer to other activities and sports, improving overall movement patterns and reducing the risk of injury in various settings.

Overall, mastering jumping and landing mechanics is crucial for both performance and injury prevention in various physical activities.

Common Injuries Caused by Improper Landing and Jumping Mechanics

jumping & landing injury risks

Sports and fitness activities that involve a lot of jumping, cutting, and pivoting movements are more likely to result in ACL and other injuries due to improper jumping and landing mechanics.

Some sports and activities that report a higher incidence of these types of injuries include:

— Basketball: The stop-and-go nature of basketball, along with jumping and landing, can put athletes at a higher risk of ACL and other knee injuries.

— Soccer: Soccer involves a lot of cutting, pivoting, and jumping, which can increase the risk of ACL and other knee injuries, especially during high-speed play.

— Volleyball: Jumping and landing during spikes and blocks can increase the risk of ACL and other knee injuries, especially if proper technique is not used.

— Gymnastics: Gymnasts often perform high-intensity jumps and landings, which can increase the risk of ACL and other injuries if improper technique is used.

— Skiing and Snowboarding: These activities involve a lot of jumping and landing, especially in terrain parks, which can increase the risk of ACL and other knee injuries.

— Track and Field: Athletes in events such as long jump, high jump, and hurdles may be at higher risk of ACL and other injuries due to the repetitive nature of jumping and landing.

— Fitness Classes: High-intensity fitness classes that involve a lot of jumping, such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or plyometrics, can increase the risk of ACL and other injuries if proper technique is not used.

— Football: Football players, especially those playing positions that require a lot of cutting and pivoting, are at higher risk of ACL and other knee injuries. Not to mention the rotational load that tackling and being tackled can exert on an athletes legs.

It's important for athletes in these sports and activities to incorporate proper jumping and landing mechanics training, as well as strengthening and conditioning exercises, to reduce the risk of ACL and other injuries. Coaching and training programs that emphasize proper technique can also help reduce the risk of these injuries.

What are Landing Mechanics

Landing mechanics refer to the technique used to land safely and effectively after a jump or other airborne movement. Proper landing mechanics are important for reducing the risk of injury and improving performance in activities that involve jumping.

Key components of good landing mechanics include:

Landing on both feet

  1. Bending the knees: Landing with the knees bent helps absorb the impact of the landing and reduces stress on the knees and lower back.

  2. Hips back and down: Hinging at the hips and pushing them back helps to lower the body and absorb shock, while also maintaining balance.

  3. Soft landing: Landing softly on the balls of the feet helps to reduce the impact forces on the body. Avoiding landing on the heels can also help prevent injuries.

  4. Neutral spine: Maintaining a neutral spine position (not overly arched or rounded) helps to distribute forces evenly and protect the lower back.

  5. Absorbing the force: Using the muscles of the legs and core to absorb the force of the landing, rather than relying solely on the joints.

  6. Good alignment: Keeping the knees aligned with the toes and the hips aligned with the knees helps to prevent excessive stress on the joints. Do not allow the knees to collapse inward (knee valgus).

  7. Controlled landing: Landing with control and stability, rather than landing hard or off-balance, can help reduce the risk of injury.

Practicing and improving landing mechanics can help individuals become more efficient and safer in activities that involve jumping and landing, such as sports, fitness activities, and daily movements.

Single-leg landing mechanics

Landing on one foot, also known as single-leg landing, is a common movement in various sports and activities such as basketball and walking down a long flight of stairs.

Proper technique for landing on one foot involves several key components to ensure safety and efficiency:

  1. Prepare for landing: Approach the landing with proper balance and alignment. Keep your eyes focused on a fixed point to help maintain stability.

  2. Bend the knee: As you land, bend the knee of the supporting leg to absorb the impact. The knee should be aligned with the toes and not collapse inward. (This is called knee valgus - more on that later in the article.)

  3. Hip and torso alignment: Keep your hips and torso stable and aligned over the supporting leg. Avoid excessive leaning or twisting.

  4. Soft landing: Land softly on the ball of the foot, rolling smoothly to the heel. Avoid landing on the toes or with a flat foot.

  5. Use your arms: Swing your arms forward and upward as you land to help maintain balance and control. Keep your arms close to your body for better stability.

  6. Controlled descent: Descend smoothly and under control, avoiding sudden or jerky movements.

  7. Maintain balance: Focus on maintaining balance on the supporting leg. Engage your core muscles to help stabilize your body.

  8. Absorb the force: Use your muscles to absorb the landing force, rather than relying solely on your joints.

  9. Practice and progress: Start with lower jumps and gradually increase the height and intensity as you become more comfortable and proficient with the technique.

Proper technique is crucial for reducing the risk of injury and improving performance when landing on one foot. Practicing these techniques regularly can help improve your ability to land safely and effectively in various situations.

Muscles Used for Jumping and Landing

The muscles of the hips, knees, and ankles are used to improve the height of the jump, and they are equally important when landing from a jump.

Proper landing technique involves the coordinated effort of several muscle groups to absorb the impact of the landing safely and efficiently.

The key muscles involved in proper landing technique include:

1. Gluteal Muscles: The gluteus maximus and medius muscles in the buttocks help stabilize the hip joint and control the descent.

2. Hip Abductors and Adductors: These muscles on the outside and inside the hip help stabilize the hip joint and control side-to-side movement.

3. Hip Flexors: The hip flexor muscles at the front of the hip help control the descent and prevent excessive forward flexion of the pelvis.

4. Quadriceps: The quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh help to control the descent and absorb the landing forces.

5. Hamstrings: The hamstrings at the back of the thigh act as stabilizers and help control the bending of the knee during landing.

6. Calves: The calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) help control the ankle joint and absorb the impact of landing.

7. Core Muscles: The muscles of the core, including the abdominals and lower back muscles, help stabilize the torso and pelvis during landing.

Proper jump landing technique also involves maintaining proper alignment of the body, including the knees, hips, and shoulders, to distribute the landing forces evenly and reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, landing on the balls of the feet and rolling smoothly to the heels can help absorb the impact more effectively.

Common Landing Mistakes

When landing after a jump, several common mistakes can lead to injuries or inefficient movement.

Here are some of them:

— Stiff landings: Landing with locked knees can increase the impact on joints, leading to injury. It's important to absorb the impact by bending your knees upon landing.

— Poor alignment: Landing with the knees collapsing inward (valgus collapse) or the feet rolling inward (pronation) can increase the risk of injuries such as ACL injuries or ankle sprains. Proper alignment with knees tracking over the toes and feet pointing forward is crucial.

— Landing too hard: Landing with excessive force can strain muscles and joints. Focus on landing softly and absorbing the impact gradually.

— Not using the arms: The arms play a crucial role in balancing and absorbing shock during landing. Failure to use them can lead to loss of balance and inefficient landings.

— Landing too far forward or backward: Landing with the weight too far forward or backward can lead to loss of balance and potential falls. Aim to land with the weight centered over the feet.

— Lack of core stability: Weak core muscles can lead to poor control over body position during landing, increasing the risk of injury. Overactive QL muscles on one sidde or the other can also cause problems. Strengthening the core can help improve landing mechanics.

— Ignoring fatigue: Fatigue can lead to sloppy technique and increase the risk of mistakes. It's important to rest and recover adequately between jumps to maintain proper form.

It's essential to practice proper landing technique and seek guidance from a qualified coach or personal trainer to avoid these mistakes and improve performance while minimizing the risk of injury.

What is Knee Valgus?

Knee injuries - improper landing mechanics

“Knee valgus” is a term used to describe a position where the knees cave inward toward each other, often observed during movements like squatting, jumping, or landing.

Knee valgus can affect proper landing mechanics in several ways:

— Increased risk of injury: Knee valgus can increase the risk of knee injuries, such as ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, due to the increased stress placed on the ligaments and structures of the knee joint.

— Poor biomechanics: Knee valgus can indicate poor biomechanics and muscle imbalances, which can affect the ability to properly absorb shock during landing.

— Decreased stability: Landing with knee valgus can decrease the stability of the lower body, increasing the risk of losing balance or landing off-center.

— Reduced power production: Knee valgus can compromise the ability of the lower body muscles to generate power, which can impact jumping and landing performance.

To address knee valgus during landing, it's important to focus on strengthening the muscles that support the knees, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as improving overall lower body mechanics and alignment. Practicing proper landing mechanics, including keeping the knees aligned with the toes and the hips, can also help reduce the risk of knee valgus during landing.

The Role of Plyometrics in Jumping Landing Technique

Plyometrics, also known as “jump training” or “plyos,” is a form of exercise that involves explosive movements to develop power, strength, and speed. Plyometric exercises typically involve the muscles exerting maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing the ability to generate force quickly. However, plyos also involve proper landing before exploding into the next jump.

Examples of plyometric exercises include:

Plyometrics are often used by athletes to improve their performance in sports that require explosive movements, such as basketball, sprinting, and volleyball.

These exercises can help improve muscle strength, agility, and coordination, leading to enhanced athletic performance. However, plyometric training should be approached with caution, as it is high-impact and can increase the risk of injury if not performed correctly or by individuals with certain health conditions.

The three phases of a plyometric exercise are:

1. Eccentric Phase

Also known as the loading phase, this phase involves a rapid lengthening of the muscle, typically through a quick descent or lowering of the body. This phase is important for storing elastic energy in the muscles and connective tissues.

2. Amortization Phase

This is the deceleration transition phase between the eccentric and concentric phases, where the muscle briefly pauses at the bottom of the movement. The goal is to minimize the time spent in this phase to maximize the use of stored energy.

3. Concentric Phase

Also known as the explosive phase, this phase involves a rapid shortening of the muscle, resulting in a powerful contraction that generates force. This phase is where the actual jump or explosive power occurs.

By incorporating these three phases into plyometric exercises, athletes can improve their power, speed, and agility when jumping and landing, making them valuable additions to training programs for sports that require explosive movements, such as basketball, volleyball, and sprinting.

The Role of Isometric Exercises in Jumping and Landing Technique

Isometric exercise

Isometric exercises are exercises that involve contracting a muscle or group of muscles without changing the length of the muscle or joint angle. These exercises are typically done in a static position, holding the contraction for a set period of time, such as the landing position before the explosive plyometric phase.

Isometric exercises can be beneficial for reducing jumping and landing injury risks in several ways:

Strengthens Muscles

Isometric exercises can help strengthen the muscles involved in jumping and landing, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Stronger muscles can better support and stabilize the joints during these movements, reducing the risk of injury.

Improves Stability

Isometric exercises can improve joint stability by strengthening the muscles that support the joints. This can help reduce the risk of landing in an unstable position or with poor mechanics.

Enhances Muscle Endurance

Isometric exercises can improve muscle endurance, which is important for maintaining proper form and technique during repetitive movements like jumping and landing.

Prevents Muscle Imbalances

Isometric exercises can help prevent muscle imbalances, which can increase the risk of injury during jumping and landing. By strengthening muscles evenly, isometric exercises can promote better overall muscle function.

Increases Body Awareness

Isometric exercises can improve body awareness and proprioception, which are important for maintaining proper alignment and control during jumping and landing.

It is important to complement isometric exercises with dynamic movements that simulate jumping and landing to improve overall coordination and neuromuscular control. Examples of isometric exercises that can help reduce jumping and landing injury risks include planks, wall sits, and static lunges.

Incorporating these exercises into a comprehensive training program that includes dynamic strengthening, flexibility, and plyometric exercises can help improve overall sports performance and reduce the risk of injury during jumping and landing activities.

Exercises to Improve Jumping and Landing Technique Mechanics

Jumping landing exercises

There are several bodyweight exercises that can help improve jumping and landing mechanics, ultimately leading to better technique and reduced risk of injury. Here are some of the best exercises to learn perfect technique. However, do not neglect your pre-workout warm up routine.

1. Squat Jumps

Start in a squat position and explode upward into a jump, focusing on landing softly with proper mechanics.

2. Lateral Jumps

Jump laterally from side to side, focusing on pushing off and landing with proper knee and hip alignment.

3. Box Jump

Jump onto a box or platform, focusing on landing softly with knees bent and absorbing the impact.

4. Depth Drops

Step off a box or platform, then immediately jump upward upon landing, focusing on quick and controlled movements.

5. Depth Jumps

Step off a box or platform, then immediately jump onto another higher box or platform.

6. Drop Jumps

Step off a box or platform and immediately follow the landing with a horizontal or a vertical jump. This exercise is used to improve lower body power and explosiveness.

7. Single-Leg Squats

Perform squats on one leg to improve strength, balance, and stability.

8. Lunges

Perform forward, backward, and lateral lunges to improve leg strength and control.

9. Plyometric Push-Ups

Perform explosive push-ups that require a quick and controlled landing.

10. Medicine Ball Throws

Throw a medicine ball against a wall or to a partner, focusing on explosive movements and proper landing mechanics.

11. Balance Exercises

Incorporate balance exercises, such as standing on one leg or using a balance board, to improve stability and control.

12. Core Exercises

Strengthening the core muscles can improve overall stability and control during jumping and landing.

When working on jumping landing mechanics, it's important to start with lower-intensity exercises and fewer reps. Gradually progress to more challenging ones and more repetitions as your technique improves.

Focus on quality over quantity, and always prioritize proper form to prevent injuries.

Working with a qualified fitness trainer or coach can also help ensure you're performing the exercises correctly and safely.


Improving your jumping and landing mechanics can have a significant impact on your athletic performance and overall fitness level. By focusing on proper technique, strengthening key muscle groups, and practicing regularly, you can enhance your agility, power, and control.

Whether you're aiming to jump higher, run faster, or simply looking to move more efficiently in your daily life, mastering these skills is a valuable investment in your short-term athleticism and your long-term health.

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