Every basketball game begins with a jump ball.  Whether shooting a jump shot, taking off for a lay-up, rebounding a basketball or blocking a shot, jumping and therefore, landing is integral to the game of basketball.  What goes up must come down!

Proper jumping and landing techniques will help reduce the risk of injury and improve jumping ability.

The muscles of the hips (gluteals), knees (quadriceps and hamstrings) and ankles (calves) that improve the height of the jump are just as important when landing from a jump.    In order for these muscles to work their best, athletes can use a movement strategy that begins with unlocking the hips first (hip strategy) and continues with timely bending of the hips, knees and ankles.  This is followed by straightening the joints, known as triple extension, to create the power to jump high. 

Taking off and landing with a knee strategy, where movement is initiated with the knees first, places increased strain and stress on the ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and bones of the knee joint, as well as the back, hips, and ankles.  This can lead to traumatic injury of the ACL, pain in or around the kneecap or tendons of the knee, to name a few.  Using an improper knee strategy also causes the muscles to work harder than necessary.  Strong muscles will allow the individual to generate enough power to jump high and provide the shock absorption necessary to land softly.  Weak muscles don’t absorb well and the force instead is transmitted to the joints that these muscles were meant to protect – the hips, knees and ankles.

Before beginning a jumping program, here are a few things to consider:

  • Learn proper movement strategies
    • Stand with your back facing  a wall and gently tap your buttock to learn how to unlock hips
    • Practice squatting into a chair and jumping and landing from that position
  • Build strength to support the movement, create power, and absorb landing forces
    • Train the gluteal/ buttock muscles with bridging
    • Train the quadriceps muscles with a leg press to build strength in each leg and then move on to squatting
    • Train the calf muscles with heel raises off the edge of a step
  • Demonstrate flexibility to move with ease
    • Try foam rolling
    • Stretch the hips and ankles as well as the buttocks, hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves
  • Begin on 2 legs before jumping and landing on 1 leg

Theresa Chiaia, PT, DPT

Theresa Chiaia is the Section Manager of the James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery. She has been part of the HSS Women’s Sports Medicine Center since its inception and has guided athletes of all levels along the road to recovery and a successful return to competition. Along with her colleague, Polly de Mille, Theresa has developed a Quality of Movement Assessment (QMA) to aid in the return to play decision making process.