WHAT MAKES THE BOX JUMP A GOOD EXERCISE
Box jumps are an excellent exercise choice for increasing your vertical jump because it is a low impact exercise. What does this mean? It means that when you land from the jump the impact forces you have to absorb are much lower than a regular jump.
For example, imagine you have a 30 inch standing vertical jump. This means that every time you jump with maximum effort you have to absorb the impact of landing forces from around a height of about 30 inches.
Alternatively, if you jump up onto a 25 inch box, then you only are absorbing landing forces equivalent to a 5 inch jump. This is substantially easier on not only your joints, but also your muscles due to the reduced eccentric stress.
These two factors have a couple of positive benefits for your vertical jump training in that it allows you to perform a higher volume of jumps and also it takes less time to recover.
Another benefit of box jumps is that generally they are done from a standing still position (dead stop). This makes them very good for improving explosive concentric strength and rate of force development (RFD).
WHAT MAKES A BOX JUMP NOT A GOOD EXERCISE CHOICE
The box jump is a terrific exercise, there is no doubt about it. But, like most exercises, there are also a few things that you should factor in when deciding whether or not to use them.
The first problem with box jumps is that because you need to bring your knees up quickly to land your feet on the box, it can lead to athletes not getting full hip extension. The higher the box you use the more pronounced this becomes.
The other downside to box jumps is that they are really best suited for improving standing vertical jumps or jumps where you only have a short take off. The reasons for this are that firstly, a box jump with its reduced eccentric stress doesn’t do much in the way of developing reactive strength.
Secondly, because the landing area of a box is often quite small, and the boxes themselves are not always the sturdiest of things, it doesn’t really suit using much of a horizontal run up beforehand. Of course of you have a wide, solid platform to jump onto this isn’t as much of an issue.
The third issue that you should consider is that impressive box jumps don't always translate into impressive vertical jumps, especially if it is running vertical jump height you are after. They build explosive strength, but if you lack reactive strength and movement efficiency, your running vertical might not benefit that much from them unless you incorporate other drills that work these areas.
WHO SHOULD USE BOX JUMPS
Box jumps are ideally suited for heavier athletes due to the reduced impact. They are also very good for athletes whose primary form of jumping is a standing or one step jump. However, box jumps need not be limited to just heavy athletes. A few examples of non-football athletes that come to mind who could benefit from including box jumps in their workouts are volleyball and basketball players who often go for spikes and rebounds off jumps that have little or no run up, and soccer players who routinely jump to attempt to head in goals of corner balls, also off little or no run up.
There are some vertical box jump challenges you can take if you are interested: