Podcast #94: The Unavoidable Prerequisite to Bounce: A History of Jumping with Dan Back (Jump Science


Age 13: “Got an adjustable hoop… Back squats and calf raises 5 days a week… 2 sets of 25 squats, 2 sets of 100 calf raises on a 2×4.”

“Those ridiculous squat and calf raise workouts helped but why did they help? Well you were jumping a lot and that might have been the more influential thing.”

“You need a long history of jumping regularly and consistently and there’s not going to be a replacement for that.”

“A 3 month program doesn’t replace a childhood of jumping.”

“I dunked every day in high school basketball practice probably 10+ times per day… 3 months of that [vert program] is not going to replace dunking a basketball everyday for years.”

“If it’s [jump ability, coordination, and adaptation] not there then all the general is way less effective.”

“If you don’t have a jumping background and you get your squat up, it may or may not translate to much.”

“This 12 year old is clearly stronger in lifts (squat and lunge) and they’re not any more explosive (jump and sprint)… I thought young kids were supposed to have easy transfer. they don’t have the background yet. They haven’t done the specific, obsessive sprint and jump training yet.”

Older athlete getting immediate vert gains from a squat session: “This guy was 22. Had a whole lifetime of playing basketball and running track. Now the transfer is easy. The 12 year old doesn’t have that. Transfer is not easy… You need the background first.”

Kids and lifting: “Don’t do a lot of weights… have them sprint, have them play sports, have them run track, have them do parkour, do all the explosive things, they’re practically invisible when they’re young, they can do whatever, they don’t have to manage training volume… after they get into puberty, now let’s take advantage of strength training. It has nothing to do with stunting growth and being dangerous, we’re trying to be explosive and develop all those things that are hard to get.”

“Once upon a time, I was like yeah start kids out with lifting, and now I’m the complete opposite. No, don’t squat yet. Throw a med ball, pistol squat, loaded carries, fine. But I’m not trying to put a 12 year old on a squat program. I want him to be as explosive and elastic and bouncy as possible.”

“When he’s 15-16, now if he adds strength training, and he’s got years of explosive training and his body is shaped by that, now the strength training is going to work really well. Now he’s going to add 30 pounds to his squat, add 4 inches to his vert in one month. But you gotta set the stage for that with that childhood development.”

“When you jump a lot and sprint a lot, I think you shape your muscle, tendons, and fascia around those activities. Strength training, especially if it’s deeper range of motion, might put some different stimulus there.”

“If I have a kid who does calf raises twice a week instead of sprinting a bunch… Now, after he sprints for 10 years, if he does calf raises is it going to mess with his speed? No… I wouldn’t want calf raises to be the foundation of your lower leg development, it should be sprinting if speed is the goal.”

“Nowadays, I’m trying to reduce my ankle mobility. I’m trying to sprint and plyo and change that soft tissue.”

A sprinter: “I’ll do some RDLs because I want to strength train the hamstring. But I’m not trying to transform them from sprinting hamstrings to RDL hamstrings.”

Tendons: “There’s this disconnect between stretch shortening cycle performance and stiffness… but it’s not like stiffness is at odds with athletic performance.”

Tendons: “You want stiffness on top of having the specific development in place.”

“If you increase tendon stiffness when you’re already a collegiate distance runner, and you have how many years of running background and adaptation from that, then it’s good. But if we take an untrained person and just increase their tendon stiffness with a strength method, then it doesn’t necessarily improve the athletic performance… You want the specific in place first, then if you develop the general, it works… exactly what that specific adaptation is, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

Fascia: “I’ve never seen anybody do measurements or collect data on it… it’s all mystique… thickening, maybe.”

“When people have immobile ankles, the fascia surrounding the joint is probably contributing to that… you’re probably reshaping the fascia (deep calf raises), I would argue for speed purposes, that’s probably not a good thing.”

“Can we tighten and thicken the fascia up? That is my intuition. And that would good for quick off the ground activities.”

“Elite sprinters are mysteriously fast… there’s something else there and I think fascial tightness is probably a piece of that.”

“12 year olds can do it… You’re 25-30, you start jumping everyday, guaranteed knee pain.”

“You don’t want to shape your body with strength training. You want to shape it with sprinting and jumping.”

Jump technique: “The kid didn’t do it in 8 weeks. He did it in 8 years. We just can’t manufacture this with push-punch drills.”

Dan’s Website: https://www.jump.science/p/programs.html

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Speed Science Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speed.science0/