Are Jump Soles Completely Worthless?

Back in the early to mid 2000's, around the time I wrote the first Vertical Jump Bible, just about anyone and everyone who wanted to increase their vert was using jumpsoles or strength shoes. 

The majority of trainees actually thought using gimmicks such as jumpsoles was the most effective way to train for vert. Due largely to the impact of marketing, and a dearth of effective information on the subject, VERY FEW people understood the importance of having strength in the glutes and thighs for increasing vert, and most thought it was all in the calves. Most people that used them and  got little in the way of gains, a lot of overuse injuries, and plenty of frustration. 

I was inspired to write this article because within the past week I happened to see an old pair of jumpsoles in a box a friend of mine had AND someone just happened to email me and ask me about them.  

Jumpsoles and similar gimmicks get a lot of flack now, but not all is negative. Jumpsoles can actually do 4 positive things:

!. They provide a unique power/strength stimulus to the lower leg (calves) in which the muscle can be stretched and strengthened simultaneously. 

2. They can promote increased forefoot movement

3. They can promote increased ankle stability

4. They can be used to promote a REALLY good potentiating warm-up

Used in isolation I wouldn't expect much from jumpsoles, but when used occassionally and in context with a properly designed holistic vert program, such as those described in VJ Bible 2.0, they can provide a little extra kick for those reasons.

Throwing on a pair of jumpsoles and simply walking around with them a few minutes a couple of days per week, or using them a few minutes for some lower intensity plyo movements, can promote a little extra kick. 

People have asked me how to use them in context with a plyo routine. I say use them for one set of each movement, but avoid any challenging lateral variations, high box depth jumps, or jumps onto a bo. For example, someone performing the following workout could go thru the rotation and use jump soles for 1 set then take them off and use regular shoes for the rest: 

ankle jump: 4 x 8

tuck jump: 4 x 8

depth jump: 4 x 5

However, by far the best use of jumpsoles is as a really effective potentiating warm-up when you want to go after personal bests.

I remember I was at a basketball camp in high school and one of the creators of strength shoes (basically the same product as jump soles) came to the camp to put on a presentation. He pulled a kid out of the audience, had the kid test his running vert against a backboard, then had him go thru about a 10 minute warm-up with the jumpsoles, had him take them off and put his normal shoes on, then retested his running vert.  The kid immediately jumped 3 inches higher. Everyone was impressed, and most at the camp immediately went and got a pair (including yours truly). We all thought, "Wow!! If that guy could put 3 inches on his vert in one workout imagine if one worked out in them all the time?"  

Unfortunately, those expectations weren't met, but they can help provide a nice potentiation warm-up, and in that regard they work for both vert and speed. Here's an example of a warm-up one can use with them:

jog: 25 yds x 2 (walk-back recovery)

high knee run: 25 yds x 2 (walk back recovery)

skip: 25 yds x 2 (walk back recovery) 

shuffle right: 25 yds x 1

shuffle left: 25 yds x 1

ankle bounce: 2 sets of 10 reps

Then take them off, put your regular shoes on, and go get it. That's it. 

If you find an old pair laying around feel free to try them out.