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Single Leg Jumping and Landing Variations for the youth athlete

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

When we think of our sport and the training involved a large part of our sport requires that we jump, land, accelerate and decelerate placing a large emphasis on one leg rather than two. However, when we look at a large part of our offseason training single leg jumping and landing variations often get neglected. These are simple movements that athletes can often do on their own around their various school and club training sessions and can serve to reduce their risk of injury. One of the risk factors many youth athletes face especially female youth athletes are the risk of ACL injury. According to Shin (2009), In single leg landing especially knee valgus (the inward caving in of the knee) can substantially increase stress on the ACL. Pappas (2007) points out that females show greater rates of valgus upon landing than males so this is important to take into consideration when programming for team sport athletes in their respective settings. Bilateral landing mechanics are important as well however when we look into the play of various sports many sports require athletes to land and rederict on one leg in many cases so these should be trained with equal importance. Learning these proper landing mechanics are not only imperative for reducing the risk of injury from ever occuring but also for reducing the risk or reinjury occuring with an athlete that has already had a knee injury. Athletes who have suffered a ACL injury are 15 times more likely to have another ACL injury compared to athletes with no ACL injury history (Bell,2014). This is something that can be trained by learning the proper landing mechanics and installing a proper landing mechanics program. Providing visual cueing and review of video can show the athlete what a bad rep looks like and what a good rep looks like. We want the athlete to have a soft landing where they absorb the force produced by the jump. They also want to be able to control the landing from a stability perspective after having completed the jump. The athlete should hinge at the hip, keeping a tall chest and soft knee on each completed rep.

One of the things we do for our athletes are circuits of single leg jumping and landing mechanics. We start with simple forward mini hurdle hops sticking the landing on each jump these are typically done in reps of 6 each leg for 2-3 sets. From here we progress by adding a backwards component and then finally and lateral and medial component. Athletes will do these single leg landing variation circuits year round on a low volume approach adding up over time. We like to microdose these throughout the year rather than doing a high volume approach for a short amount of time simply because it is a skill based movement that needs to be trained rather than an exercise that serves a certain purpose at a particular part of the program.


Single Leg Forward


Cues

  • Cue the athlete to have a soft landing

  • Cue the athlete to stick the landing position before completing the next rep




Single Leg Backward


Cues

  • Cue the athlete to have a soft landing

  • Cue the athlete to stick the landing position before completing the next rep




Single Leg Lateral



Cues

  • Cue the athlete to land soft

  • Cue the athlete to stick the landing (In the video the first few are going too fast not really feeling the movement.


Single Leg Medial



Sources

Bell, D. R., Smith, M. D., Pennuto, A. P., Stiffler, M. R., & Olson, M. E. (2014). Jump-landing mechanics after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a landing error scoring system study. Journal of athletic training, 49(4), 435–441. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-49.3.21


Pappas, E., Hagins, M., Sheikhzadeh, A., Nordin, M., & Rose, D. (2007). Biomechanical differences between unilateral and bilateral landings from a jump: gender differences. Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, 17(4), 263–268.


Shin, C. S., Chaudhari, A. M., & Andriacchi, T. P. (2009). The effect of isolated valgus moments on ACL strain during single-leg landing: a simulation study. Journal of biomechanics, 42(3), 280–285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.10.031

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