Part 5: Jump Training for
Today's Hockey Player
As strength and conditioning coaches Bobby Smith and Adam Feit point out in their excellent Coach's Jump Training Manual, jump training for today's athlete is about:
- Elasticity, efficiency and energy transfers
- Absorption of force and application of power
- Reducing the risk of future injury AND improving performance
In the performance training world, we're more concerned with force PRODUCTION than force ABSORPTION.
It's all about who can jump the highest or farthest.
However, before we can focus on DEVELOPING maximal force production capabilities, we must first ensure that we're able to WITHSTAND those forces generated.
Over the years, I have seen too many young athletes with lower back and knee overuse injuries despite them never having touched a barbell.
These guys (and their coaches) never realized that ground reaction forces in jumping can surpass multiple times an athlete's body weight.
For reference, I've listed peak vertical ground reaction forces seen in some of the most popular jump exercises below:
- Vertical jump: 3.34 x body weight
- Long jump: 4.22 x body weight
- Depth jump off 30 cm (12") box: 2.87 x body weight
- Depth jump off 60 cm (24") box: 3.82 x body weight
- Depth jump off 90 cm (36") box: 4.93 x body weight 
So what do these numbers mean?
Simply put, an athlete weighing 75 kg (165 pounds) can be subjected up to 250 kg (550 pounds) of force upon landing on a basic vertical jump.
Over 315 kg (693 pounds) on long jumps.
And 370 kg (814 pounds) on high depth jumps.
These are CONSIDERABLE loads placed on the lower body every time you come down.
If an athlete can't effectively use their muscles to absorb these forces, their joints (spine, hips, knees, ankles) have to pick up the slack.
Just imagine the cumulative degradation of your knees and lower back when they have to bear 250 kg of force on each and every rep of standard vertical jumps executed with a shoddy landing.
Repeat this a few hundred (or thousand) times over the years...
You'll be lucky if you come away without permanent joint damage from that. Many young athletes I have seen were not so lucky.
This is why I harp on the importance of not rushing into more advanced jump variations without a solid foundation in place.
Skipping this crucial step will notably increase the risk of future injury.
In addition to destroying your joints in the process, your performance will suffer as well.
Any time you stop, turn, or change directions, you must first decelerate (absorb force) before you can accelerate (produce force).
The less efficient you're at force absorption, the longer it will take you to get going again after a sharp cut or turn.
This is why some guys with decent linear (straight-ahead) skating speed look AVERAGE or downright CLUMSY in stop-and-go situations.
Their deceleration (and transition) doesn't match their acceleration ability.
Let's take a giant step back and look at how to organize your jump training in a progressive, systematic way...
Just like you don't throw a 300-pound bar on the back of a beginner in the weight room, you don't start jump training with depth jumps, forward bounds or other high-intensity movements.
I have broken down each step of jump training into five levels within a simple framework that I call the "E5 System".
E5 stands for:
With the E5 System, we're able to turn any hockey player - whether they're beginners just starting dryland training or seasoned trainees with years of jump experience - into a better moving, faster athlete.
And, most importantly, we do it in a safe and effective manner without injuries.
By using specific progression steps that gradually increase training difficulty when you can demonstrate you're ready for more challenging drills.
We don't rush athletes through these progressions.
We don't pummel you into the ground with junk volume.
We don't chase fatigue so that you feel you had "a good workout".
We build a solid foundation of movement quality and body control with low-intensity exercises (a.k.a. "technique work") first.
This is no different than lifting.
Hammering technique from day 1 when guys walk through our gym doors.
And adding weight to the bar as skill and confidence go up.
No wonder we have 16-year-old high school kids who can trap bar deadlift 460+ pounds with ease.
Once you have that solid foundation in place, we move on to challenging, high-intensity jump drills designed to build maximal power.
That's when the real results emerge.
And that's why you get faster while staying healthy.
Two things that can't be said about common jump training programs.
Here's a bird's-eye view of the E5 System:
You will discover how this continuum and each level works as a whole in greater detail next.
I have included video demonstrations of our jump progressions so that you can better understand the method behind the E5 System.
Level 0: "Eccentric"
(We call it Level 0 because athletes at this stage have a training age of zero or close to zero.)
The first step toward mastery in any skill is getting good at the basics.
Our goal here is to learn correct landing mechanics and body position through elementary exercises like snapdowns and depth drops.
These are foundational low-level drills that build eccentric strength and enhance body control - two critical qualities we need to have in place before progressing to more challenging exercises.
Level 1: "Express"
The ability to produce/express concentric power comes next on our list of training objectives.
For that, use low(er)-intensity exercises like vertical jumps, hurdle hops, lateral bounds and other similar movements.
Notice the controlled landing after each rep in the video above. Every set in Level 1 is performed in a "stick, stick, stick" manner.
Level 2: "Efficient"
Level 2 is all about movement efficiency.
Athletes should be able to combine eccentric and concentric parts from the earlier stages into one fluid, reactive movement EFFORTLESSLY.
Think of this as a "jump, jump, stick" sequence.
You'll be using the same exercises here as in Level 1 while REBOUNDING from one rep to another and further displaying a solid landing position.
Level 3: "Elastic"
This phase introduces movements requiring transitional power and elasticity into our workouts.
At this stage, training intensity is increased by:
- Combining planes of movement
- Shortening ground contact times or
- Adding external resistance
Level 4: "Explode"
Maximal power and elasticity is the name of the game in Level 4.
It introduces athletes to challenging, reactive, multidirectional jump variations.
Many of them are so-called "hybrids" (a.k.a. jump combinations) where you absorb force and then quickly transfer it into different directions.
Note that these drills are reserved for ADVANCED athletes.
They're NOT SUITABLE for beginners.
The E5 System explains my thought process behind how jump progressions should be taught.
I have tested this progression model with HUNDREDS of hockey players and found that...
The E5 approach to jump training works for anyone from 15-year-old beginners to advanced pro athletes.
And you're going to find out just how effective it can be with real hockey players and real performance stats on the next page.
#1. Bad jumping and landing mechanics can lead to serious injury due to high ground reaction forces that exceed multiple times your own body weight.
#2. Same as with lifting weights, we create powerful athletes through well-planned, gradual jump progressions where each step builds on the previous one.
#3. The E5 System is a simple and effective model for teaching athletes good jumping mechanics and building lower body power that transfers to the playing field.
 Wallace, BJ et al. Quantification of Vertical Ground Reaction Forces of Popular Bilateral Plyometric Exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010 Jan; 24(1):207-212.