Force has a big influence on technique. A lot of athletes and coaches get caught up in focusing on technique as a way to improve without realizing that producing more force is sometimes the key to better technique and better performance along with it. I’ll be posting a number of examples of this.

Example #2, knee bend. We can talk about this in 1 and 2-foot jumping as well as sprinting. The best athletes often display minimal knee bend during these movements. It is very easy to see that and conclude that you need to work on bending your knees less. Jumpers may try to keep the hips high during the gather for a jump. A high jumper may do the penultimate drill with a really short, quick step going into each jump. A sprinter may do a ton of stiff leg run and B skips to work on striking the ground under the hip with a straight leg. There is nothing wrong with any of these things.

But it is important to realize that the best athletes are able to use minimal knee bend because they (1) produce force really quickly to stop the knee flexion quickly and (2) get a large amount of muscle tension from their myotatic stretch reflex, which is also very quick. If you don’t have those abilities, then you shouldn’t be using that technique! It won’t work for you.

Let’s bring back Johnny Strong (reference to an old article). Johnny is a strength-based athlete. He jumps best off two feet with a deep counter-movement. He sees people who jump higher using less knee bend. He starts thinking if he just uses less knee bend he’ll jump higher. What actually happens is he jumps way lower because he does not have the explosiveness and reflexive response to utilize minimal knee bend. Rather than just trying to change his technique, he needs to change his force production capabilities. This would be done with a greater emphasis on explosiveness in his training and a lot of jumps that emphasize quickness (tuck jumps, depth jumps, etc). He is not going to instantly jump higher by changing technique. Rather if he gets more explosive and bouncy OVER TIME, his technique will naturally change, and his jump will improve.

Now take me for example. Having a 2-foot jumping back ground, I am a relatively slow 1-foot jumper and by no means a speed demon on the track. If I go try to jump like Stefan Holm, it’s not going to work for me. I would need to do a lot of sprinting and bounding to develop explosiveness. I may also practice quicker takeoffs as a tool for developing explosiveness, but I wouldn’t go to a high jump competition and expect a quicker takeoff to instantly make me jump higher. Same thing with sprinting. I use more knee bend than Usain Bolt, because I don’t produce force like Usain Bolt. A million miles of stiff-leg running are not going to allow me to sprint at top speed with no knee bend, because stiff-leg running isn’t fast enough to improve my force production. I need to sprint and sprint and sprint to gradually improve my force production, and that will allow my technique and my performance to improve.