Today we’re talking about kettlebell swings which are of my favorite auxiliary lifts for vertical jump. This drill will help you build speed and power through the posterior chain no matter what sport you play. If you’re looking to develop your jumping or speed, try these three drills.
I love using kettlebells since they’re great for taking athletes through a dynamic hip hinge as opposed to a barbell which can be quite linear. By coming down with the KB between the legs, you’re able to move through an even greater range of motion by pushing the hips back further and then using the glutes and hamstrings to pull you back up to standing.
For a great vertical jump focused warm-up series, check out this post.
Our first progression starts out as a classic kettlebell swing. To set up for this, begin standing with your feet just wider than hip width distance and a kettlebell about a foot in front of your toes. Bend down to grab the handle with both hands while pushing the hips back behind you and keeping the spine straight.
In one swift movement, pick the kettlebell off the ground allowing it to swing back between the legs, almost touching your butt. Next pop the hips forward while staying in a hinge, using the momentum to swing the kettlebell out in front of you with straight arms. Continue as it naturally falls again between your knees.
A lot of coaches are really particular about the form that goes into a kettlebell swing. As a performance coach, I’m more interested in making sure we get the right stimulus out of this drill. That’s why I’m looking for a strong hinge movement where the shoulders cross over the toes. This ensures that you’re using the hips for power, rather than just a knee drive.
A lot of athletes, swing down but keep their shoulders up too high so that they never cross over the toes. This puts you into more of a squat position than a hinge. The other issue I’ll see is the opposite where the athlete leans too far forward, without pushing the glutes back to really access your drive mode through the posterior chain.
After going through your regular kettlebell swings, I might recommend kettlebell spikes. These are more of an eccentric drill where you have to decelerate through the glutes and hamstrings.
You’ll need a partner for this one. Start by performing your kettlebell swings just like before. Then your partner will stand in front of you, and with each time you swing up, they’ll push the kettlebell down creating more velocity. Now the athlete has to decelerate that resistance as fast as possible.
Banded Kettlebell Swings
Finally, the last phase adds in a bit more concentric movement. It’ll still force you through a rapid eccentric, but utilizes a band, adding accommodating resistance. Start by looping a long band around your kettlebell handle, and then step into position with the other ends of the band underneath both feet.
As the band comes up, there’s additional resistance to overcome through the entire range of motion, making it a lot harder at the top of the movement while in hip extension.
WANT MORE VERTICAL JUMP WARM UPS AND TRAINING?
This is the exact way I would implement kettlebell swings, phase by phase into strength training for any athlete looking to improve their vertical jump or top speed. I utilize this in a lot of my programs such as Elite Vertical Academy.