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Tuck Jump & Drop Jump Landing Procedures - The Skill of Jumping

drop jump landing return to sport tuck jump


By  Phil Plisky, PT, DSc, ATC, OCS, CSCS & Adam Devery, ATC, PTA, CSCS 

Valgus collapse gets a lot of press when it comes to discussing risk factors for ACL injury and it is certainly important.  There are a few studies that indicate we should be looking at knee alignment with jumping.  To us, what is interesting is that there are even more studies that show strength, balance, and plyometric training programs with a focus on proper alignment can reduce injury rates, particularly in female athletes.

Prior to attempting to coach the skill of jumping, it is essential that joint mobility and movement patterns are normal. The tuck jump and drop jump landing assess landing quality or the skill of jumping, but we can’t know which part is broken unless we have cleared the simpler movement patterns like the squat and ankle dorsiflexion.

Frequently, athletes will have an unrecognized ankle dorsiflexion restriction which will cause either frustration on the coaches or athlete’s part due to the inability to perform jumps correctly no matter how many cues are given. Even worse, if the lack of ankle dorsiflexion causes subtle compensation that goes unrecognized.

Now, let's get into how to perform these assessments. With both tuck jump and drop jump landing, it is extremely important to look both at the take-off as well as the landing. While landing has been the main focus of research and is certainly important,  I gain a great deal of information if I see an athlete has a quick valgus pulse prior when initiating the jump. I believe they use this valgus positioning to gain stability. We should be seeing them use their hips and gluts for stability with take-off AND landing, not valgus at the knees. 


Tuck Jump Landing Assessment


  1. Start with asking the athlete to stand with their feet shoulder-width apart with their toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Have the athlete begin with their arms out straight ahead in front of them, parallel to the landing surface.
  3. Instruct the athlete that they will be performing a series of jump landings trying to tuck their knees, bringing them up toward their chest.
  4. Observe and monitor the athlete’s tuck-jump and landing mechanics.
  5. Provide cueing where necessary.
  6. Repeat test procedure beginning at step #1.

With the tuck jump, below are the criteria  that you should assess during pre, mid, post-landing:


  1. Lower extremity valgus at landing
    0: no valgus
    1: slight valgus
    2: obvious valgus: both knees touch
  2. Thighs do not reach 
    0: the knees are higher or at the same level as the hips 
    1: the middle of the knees are at a lower level than the middle of the hips 
    2: the whole knees are under the entire hips 
  3. Thighs not equal side to side (during flight) 
    0: thighs equal side to side 
    1: thighs slightly unequal side to side 
    2: thighs completely unequal side to side (one knee is over the other) 
  4. Foot placement not shoulder width apart 
    0: foot placement exactly shoulder width apart
    1: foot placement mostly shoulder width apart
    2: both feet fully together and touch at landing
  5. Foot placement not parallel (front to back)
    0: foot (the end of the feet) placement parallel
    1: foot placement mostly parallel
    2: foot placement obviously unparalleled (one foot is over half the distance of the other foot/leg)
  6. Foot contact timing not equal 
    0: foot contact timing equal side to side
    1: Foot contact timing slightly unequal 
    2: Foot contact timing completely unequal
  7. Excessive landing contact noise
  8. Pause between jumps 
  9. Technique declines prior to 10 seconds 
  10. Does not land in same footprint (excessive in-flight motion)


Drop Jump Landing

For this test, you will need a 31cm box to administer the test.


  1. Start with having the athlete step onto the box, and stand with their feet shoulder-width apart with their toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Instruct the athlete to jump off the box landing softly with both feet, not expelling all of their momentum.
  3. Once both feet touch the landing surface, instruct the athlete to raise their arms up overhead, fingers pointed toward the ceiling, and double-leg jump for height.
  4. Observe and monitor the athlete's tuck-jump and landing mechanics.
  5. Provide cueing where necessary.
  6. Repeat test procedure beginning at step #1.


With the drop jump, below are the criteria as the clinician that you should be watching for:

  • Both feet leave the box simultaneously
  • Both feet land simultaneously
  • Weight-bearing is symmetrical
  • Landing force is adequately and symmetrically absorbed by both lower extremities


Co-author Information

Adam Devery, ATC, PTA, CSCS

Adam is an athletic trainer in minor league professional baseball. He graduated from the University of Evansville with degrees in athletic training and physical therapist assistance. He is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist and has interests in athletic development, injury prevention, and sports rehabilitation. 

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