Jump! It’s such a simple cue, such an easy thing to do right? Wrong! When we look at gymnasts we know that even though it looks simple what they actually accomplish is incredibly hard. For those of you practicing cartwheels this week you know what I mean. So why do we think jumping is so easy? Olympic lifters spend years developing this skill, which in turn makes it seem easy, but don’t let them fool you. So let’s take a closer look at what actually should be happening when you « jump ».
The first thing you want to think about is to plant your feet. Jumping is not levitating. You are NOT trying to bring your knees to your chest, you are trying to raise your center of mass, i.e. bring your hips higher then their initial point. In yoga, we spend quite some time interacting with the floor and grounding, but in our day to day life and in the box we forget to use the floor to our advantage. So go a little granola if you have to and take off your shoes. Feel the floor. Once your feet are planted you want to think about bending the hip. Now here comes the tricky part… To jump you want to push against the floor as hard as possible. It’s this transfer of energy that allows you to displace your mass. Most people do the opposite and try to get their feet off the floor as quickly as possible instead. Now obviously depending on the weight, type of jump or skill involved in the jump you might bring your knees to your chest, like in a max height box jump. Same goes for shoulder placement, which in the case of our Olympic lifts should be behind the bar. Regardless, it’s your hips that are interacting with the floor. It’s the rapid opening of the hip WHILE pressing into the floor that helps you displace your weight or your weight and that of the bar when performing a clean or a snatch.
I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of Olympic lifters with their feet off the floor when they are jumping. Or for that matter jumping 3 feet in the air, unless it’s after their performance. So don’t think about getting your feet off the floor, the jumping cue is used to get you to open your hips fully and as fiercely as possible. And since the snatch and clean require a change in direction you want to close that hip and squat as drastically as well. You want to minimize the transition time, NOT gloss over it. Get to FULL extension first with your jump and then close.
Finally, I have found that the best visual for maximizing your jump is to think of superman flying off. Or for us 90s kids think of the final scene in The Matrix when Neo flies. They both do exactly the same thing, break the floor, because they are pushing so hard into it before jumping/ flying off. And if that doesn’t convince you buy a pogo stick or a trampoline. You’ll soon realize that if you want to go any higher you’ll first need to push into it before it can propel you further up.