Strength (Video) - Mat Jumps

Strength (Video) - Mat Jumps

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

A current trend in sport training is to put athletes in positions of instability while asking them to maintain a stable, sport-specific posture.

This develops the balance and proprioception they need to perform their sport, while strengthening the core muscles that are put under stress as they fight to maintain their posture.

When running, for example, that posture is upright with the shoulders square and the pelvis level and with only one leg in contact with the ground at a time.

The mat jump is an exercise that places athletes under such conditions of instability. In addition to balance, proprioception and core strength, it also develops leg strength and power, as athletes are forced to drive upwards in different directions off a surface that gives way as they push.

How to Perform
Mat jumps are performed on a high jump or pole vault mat. The athlete stands on the mat while you give them directions on which way to jump, and when. For example, "Front-left, back, diagonal, front right-leg," etc.

You can develop different elements of strength and fitness depending on how long you have them hold their position after jumping.

If they hold for a long time (five to ten seconds), they'll emphasize isometric strength, balance and core in addition to general leg strength. If they jump quickly, holding their position only long enough to establish the correct posture upon landing, they'll emphasize explosiveness at the start, but also and endurance, fitness and lactic acid tolerance as the exercise progresses.

You can see a demonstration of the Mat Jump exercise in the video below.
For safety reasons, it would be better to use a larger mat, or have spotters available.

Dick Moss, Editor, PE, January 2008.


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