[This post is written by John Grace, CSCS – Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]

We’ve all seen videos like the one below where the athlete seemingly jumps out of the gym and higher than any superstar athlete will ever be capable of.

While it may look cool, many misconstrue this as an effective way to improve their vertical jump. In fact, this way of box jumping has very little carry over (if any at all) to any athletic movement other than a max height box jump. What you are trying to achieve in a proper box jump is vertical hip displacement, not the maximum height that one’s feet can obtain through tucking their knees to their chest. The extra height you are able to obtain by doing so is not contributing to enhancing your vertical jump capabilities nor will this technique improve your vertical jump when performed in a true athletic test setting. The only thing a max box jump does is inflate your perceived vertical jump capabilities and increase risk for injury.

Many times when trying to perform a max height box jump, facilities will not have a high enough box. The reason many facilities don’t have a high enough box to suffice is because a box that high is not needed for true athletic development. The only solution to reach a max height is to stack boxes or even worse stack bumper plates on top of one another. When stacking boxes or plates, you will effectively be reducing the surface area you have to jump on. This increase in height combined with reduced surface area immediately increases risk for missing the height and possibly falling on your back or head. Not to mention when stacking bumper plates, they have a tendency to shift and slide during a box jump, so any wrong move can cause them to fall and damage equipment or worse, fall on you or others in the surrounding area.

Vertical jump tests, and other testing methods for that matter, should be performed in a controlled, safe, setting with minimal risk for injury. Using a product like the Just Jump Mat that Athletic Lab uses during its testing for high school and professional athletes provides both accurate measurements in a controlled, safe, environment.

For the purpose of athletic development, boxes should be set at a relatively moderate height (for most, the box height will be somewhere between the knees and hips) with the focus being on displacing the hips vertically and landing with semi-straight legs. It is very clear to me that the dangers of performing high box jumps far outweigh any type of benefit received. Just ask this guy (and the many other YouTube fails out there).