Box jumps are a full-body burn that put you through both cardio and strength-building. But they can be a bit intimidating for beginners, rightfully so. The height. The power they demand. The fear of missing the box and losing half the skin on your shins. Fear not! Let’s talk about tackling box jumps for beginners and nine tips that promise to help you.

Psst! Don’t forget to check out our blog on three exercises for better box jumps.

9 Tips for Box Jumps for Beginners

Baby steps are key. Progress over perfection! These nine tips will help your hone your technique and fight your fears.

1. Start With Tuck Jumps

We mean these guys:

Tuck jumps are simple but challenging, and they’re also excellent for preparing you for box jumps, making them the first tip we offer for box jumps for beginners.

The reason you’ll find these so helpful is that in practicing bringing your knees close to your chest at the top of the jump, you’re simultaneously practicing the correct position you’ll need to hit in order to clear the box.

This is what’s going to stop your toes from catching on the box and you from faceplanting on it.

Don’t forget to use your arms to help propel you upward.

2. Move to the Plyo Box and Begin with Step-Ups

Once you feel a little more comfortable with tuck jumps, you can grab your plyo box.

But we’re not going to start jumping quite yet! Start with step-ups to first get used to the sensation of moving to a different height. Take this nice and easy. We’re not worried about speed, power, or explosiveness quite yet.

Side note: Step-ups are always a great way to scale box jumps, in general!

3. Start with Something Low to the Ground

Now we’re ready to get jumping! But before you take the leap, think about this: What height can you start with that feels safe?

Your standard wood plyo box typically offers three different heights, but even the lowest might totally intimidate you. And that’s okay! Let’s back up and start with something more manageable — like a plate or stack of plates.

The goal here is to build a little confidence so that once you move to the box, your nerves won’t get the best of you.

4. Jump Next to the Box

This might feel a little silly, but hear us out.

What stops a lot of athletes from successfully doing box jumps isn’t that they can’t stick the landing. It’s that they’re afraid they can’t stick the landing. But in reality, they’re more than capable.

Grab a buddy and a box. Stand next to your box, putting it at whatever height you plan on starting with. Then, perform a tuck jump. Remember, you’re doing this next to your box, not on it.

Ask your friend if you jumped higher than the box. Odds are you did. You might even consider asking them to take a picture or video so that you can see the proof for yourself.

More often than not, athletes are surprised at just how high they can jump. Fears: squashed!

5. Keep Your Eyes on the Center of the Box

Your body goes where your eyes go. Land with your feet on the edge of the box and you’re basically asking for shin scrapes. Instead, aim for the center of the box. As you execute your box jumps, your eyes should be fixed on this spot.

male athlete performing box jumps for beginners

6. Stand About a Foot Away from the Box

Some athletes stand on the ground with their toes touching the box. Others stand so far away that there’s no chance they’re going to land on it safely.

The sweet spot is about a foot off. At this distance, you’re close enough to clear the edge of the box and land in the center, but far enough that your knees won’t hit the box when you squat down.

7. Try to Do Most of the Work in the Beginning

This is more of a mental cue. To safely land on the box, you must do three things:

  1. Squat while on the ground.
  2. Explode through your legs.
  3. Use your arms to drive you upward.

The rest of the movement should almost feel like you’re floating. You want to land on the box with soft feet, hips above parallel, chest high.

If you notice that in the landing position (meaning on the box), your chest is by your knees or you end up in a very low squat, something’s off. Try taking the height down a little bit.

8. Step Down from the Top of the Box

In the beginning, jumping down (backward!) from the top of the box might feel intimidating. If that’s the case, simply step down until you start feeling more comfortable with it.

If you need to, try using your hands to help you “climb” down. This might make box jumps for beginners a bit more feasible.

9. Find the Right Squat Depth

Athletes sometimes think that the deeper they squat in preparation for the jump, the higher they’ll go (and more easily). This logic is understandable!

However, if you squat too deep, you might actually lose the tension you need to explode back up.

First, try squatting to parallel and see how that feels. In all honesty, even that might be too low. Many athletes find a good spot slightly above parallel, meaning that your hips are just above your knees.

Play around with it! Just keep in mind that squatting deeper isn’t necessarily better.

We know that box jumps can be super intimidating, but you got this! Start with something low, follow these nine tips for box jumps for beginners, and before you know it, you’ll be jumping like a pro.