Principles of Movement: Jump with Your Shoulders

Sometime last year I was speaking to a friend who had just hurt his shoulder.

Him:       “Damn it. Now I won’t be able to do any tricking.”

Me:        “Why not? Tricking is all kicks, twists, and flips. You don’t need to put your hand on the ground or use your shoulders for anything.”

Him:       “Dude. Most of the momentum in the jumps is from swinging your shoulders.”

Me:        *Inception*


Most people logically reason that jumping is all in the legs. While the legs do carry a lot of the work, the rest of the body plays a crucial role in the amount of power, momentum, and distance generated.

Jumping with Your Shoulders

Think of this as a basic demonstration of push & pull. The body travels upwards much more effectively when the pushing of the legs is complemented with pulling of the shoulders.


The Set

Watch any good jumper and you will see how they emphasize setting with the shoulders – an upward swinging of the arms to initiate the vertical energy. Once this power is generated with your upper body, the power created from the legs is accentuated and jumping height is maximized.


You can observe this technique applied across all movement disciplines from gymnastics to martial arts to parkour. The next time you need to get off the ground, add your shoulders to the equation.

Happy Jumping 🙂

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