Reduce ACL Tears

If you play basketball, you probably know someone who has torn their ACL.  Although we can’t prevent injuries, we can reduce ACL tears by using a well-rounded training program.

This week I’m sharing my favorite coordination exercise to help keep your knees safe: The Jumping Jacks Matrix.  

Add this into your strength program or use it as a warm-up before practice… your knees will thank you for it.


There are a handful of risk factors that can be trained to reduce ACL tears. Here are three of them:


When players are fatigued, form breaks down and injuries can occur. Make sure your training program focuses on rest, recovery and nutrition just as much as it focuses on working hard.  


Your glutes and hamstrings not only help decelerate flexion, but also rotation of your knees. Strengthening your posterior chain in three planes of motion will help reduce forces on your knees.


Watch players when they perform jumping exercises and make sure they don’t have one or both knees excessively collapsing. Plyometrics need to be supervised by a coach to ensure that players aren’t reinforcing poor landing mechanics.


Your core muscles help decelerate forces from you upper body so that your lower body won’t have to go through excessive movement. If your core is not able to handle the mass and momentum of your upper body, your knees can end up paying the price.  

During the course of a game, players have to run and jump in all directions while their arms are busy catching and passing the ball. The Jumping Jacks Matrix teaches the body how to coordinate all these different movement combinations to protect your knees.  

Some of the movement patterns will be easy for you. Don’t spend a lot of time on these.  

It’s the challenging patterns that need to be trained. Unless you can do the movement subconsciously, you won’t be able to use it in a game.  

I’d like to give a special thanks to the Gray Institute for creating this progression and allowing me to pass along the information to help keep athletes safe.  

Here is the teaching progression I use with my athletes:


There are only three planes of motion that your body can move in:

Sagittal = Front to Back

Frontal = Side to Side

Transverse = Left and Right Rotation

Before I show players the Jumping Jacks Matrix, I first have them jump in all three planes to get familiar with the movements. Next I have them reach in all three planes.

Once players feel comfortable with the movements, combine the jumps with arms swings.  There are nine total combinations.

Here is a video that shows the Jumping Jacks Matrix:

As part of a well-rounded strength and conditioning program, the Jumping Jacks Matrix can help reduce ACL tears. I use some variation of this exercise at least once a week with my players. 

Because it focuses on coordination and not conditioning, you only have to do a few reps to receive benefit from it.  

I’d suggest incorporating the progression into warm-ups on your plyometric days.  Adding this tool to your mobility and strength work could be the missing piece to reducing the chance of a serious injury.

Do you want to see more basketball-specific jumping exercises?  Check out the blogpost, Jump Higher Off One Foot.