A previous post, Jump Rope in Baseball – Back to the Future, outlined the benefits and procedures of jumping rope. But what if you don’t have a rope or if you are working with a relatively large group and don’t have enough ropes to go around? Use line jumps and hops. Line jumps (two feet) and line hops (one foot), like jumping rope are effective for improving footwork, agility, quickness, speed, coordination, reaction time, strength, speed and power, but without the rope. They can also be used to increase the density of your workout by inserting them between sets of other exercises. Asking a player to do quick line jumps after each set of heavy squats, for example, is a good way to integrate strength and quickness in the same workout.
While the line jumps and hops are very simple exercises, there are at least three steps that you should progress through to minimize the risk of injury and ensure that you are getting the most out of your program.
- Step One (choose your surface): To prevent injuries, the landing surface used for line jumps and hops must be level, clear of obstructions and possess adequate shock-absorbing properties. Grass fields, gym floors and rubber surfaces are good choices
- Step Two (determine line length): While it is fairly easy to draw a straight line or several lines in the dirt if you are working with a large group, or put tape on the floor when working indoors, knowing how long to draw the lines is critical. Since research indicates that the central nervous system can fire at maximum rate for approximately 4 to 6 seconds, limit the length of the line to no more than 6 feet and the number of jumps and hops to no more than 8 to 10 reps per set. Over and back and side-to-side is one rep.
- Step Three (perfect the jumping and hopping technique): Jump/hop and land off the balls of your feet with your feet pointed straight forward when jumping forward and backward or side-to-side. Start and land with a slight bend in your ankles, knees and hips. Keep your elbows bent and move your hands forward and backwards from just above waist height as you move forward and back. Move them right to left when moving side-to-side.
- Step Four (design the workout): Put together different combinations of jumps and hops (see in-place jumps and hops and down the line jumps and hop options below) to create a personalized routine for each player. For example, do 8-10 in-place jumps and hops and 8-10 in-place side-to-side movements in week one with 30 seconds rest between sets. Do forward and backward down the line jumps and hops in week two and side-to-side down the line jumps and hops in week three. When you have perfected all movements, mix and match in-place jumps and down the line jumps and hops in subsequent workouts.
Spend as little time on the ground as possible between jumps and hops. Stay on the balls of the feet when moving forward and backward and keep body weight on the instep and big toe without letting the ankle role to either side when moving side-to-side. Learn to stick your movements, especially when moving side-to-side before attempting to perform down the line drills. Focus on moving as quickly as possible, not on how much distance you can cover when moving forward and backward or side-to-side.
Line jumps and hops are versatile tools. You can use them indoors or outdoors, with individuals or large groups, as a standalone tool or integrate them into other forms of training to achieve greater results. Performing line jumps and hops between sets of other exercises, such as resistance training, MD ball exercises or core work can increase the density of your training workout by making more effective use of rest time.
In-place Jumps and Hops
In-place jumps and hops, like in-place plyometric vertical jumps and hops, are performed in one location with no lateral movement down the line, i.e., away from the forward and backward starting and landing positons.
- Jump Forward and Backward: Stand at one end of the line, facing the line. Jump (two feet) repetitively forward and back over the line as quickly as possible.
- Jump Side-to-Side: Stand facing the line and jump side-to-side on both feet.
- Hops Forward and Back: Repeat the jump forward and backward drill on one foot, rest and repeat on opposite foot.
- Hops Side-to-Side: Stand facing the line and hop side-to-side on one foot. Rest and repeat on the opposite foot.
Down the Line Jumps and Hops
When performing down the line drills, the participant will move laterally down the line away from the starting point requiring more mobility and stability than the in-place drills.
- Jumps Forward and Back Down the Line: Stand facing the line and repeat the Jump Forward
and Back drill, moving laterally down the line (from one end to the other) as you jump forward and back. Perform the drill moving to the right, rest and repeat moving to the left.
- Hops Forward and Back Down the Line: Stand facing the line and repeat the previous drill on one foot moving medially (move left on your right foot and right on your left foot) down the line, rest and repeat on the opposite foot. Repeat the drill moving laterally (move right on right foot and left on left foot).
- Jump Side-to-Side Down the Line: Stand on one side of the line, facing down the length of the line. Jump (two feet) repetitively from side-to-side over and down the line. Rest and repeat the drill moving backwards over and down the line.
- Hop Side-to-Side Down the Line: Stand on one side of the line, facing down the length of the line. Hop on one foot down the length of the line, rest and repeat on opposite foot. Repeat the drill moving backwards down the line on each foot.
Gene Coleman, Ed. D., RSCC-E, FACSM, was the Head S&C Coach for the Houston Astros from 1978-2012 and is currently a strength and conditioning consultant for the Texas Rangers and Professor Emeritus in the Exercise and Health Sciences Program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake. Adam Noel, MS, RSCC is a Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coaches with the Texas Rangers.