If you’re in the training world, you’ve likely heard the term, ‘plyometrics’ (or ‘plyo’), but may not know what it means. What exactly are plyometrics? What problem do they solve? Is this just more technical jargon used by coaches and trainers, or are plyometrics an actual tool that can effectively boost your athletic performance?
On a high level, plyometrics can be summed up as “jump training”, which can vastly improve an athlete’s athletic ability in terms of strength and explosiveness. No matter the level of experience, some form of plyometrics should be put into all sports training programs.
Plyometric exercises should be done at a high level of intensity, but the number of reps should be kept to a minimum due to the dynamic movements involved. Plyometrics, while very helpful and necessary, increase the risk of injury and/or muscle fatigue if done in excess. It is advised that you perform these particular drills under the guidance of a professional coach or trainer.
Plyometric training can help athletes perform better on the field of play in the following areas:
All athletics require some output of strength. Without it, athletes will struggle to be successful in their particular sport.
Incorporating plyometric exercises in your workouts will develop muscle strength, and stabilize the tendons surrounding them.
These exercises require fast, explosive movements, which cause the activated muscles to expand and flex at a higher rate of speed, making them become more powerful. This increased strength will raise the athlete’s ability to perform quicker and under control in a shorter amount of time.
INCREASED VERTICAL LEAP
The vertical jump is one of the basic tests of athletic ability. It is measured on how high, and how fast, an athlete can leave the ground. Needless to say, in order to improve vertical leaping ability, athletes need to jump–and jump a lot. Plyometric drills that repeatedly focus on getting height during jumps will develop the motor skills and the leg strength needed to increase height on jumps. Using resistance (i.e. bands, weight vests, etc.) during plyo training adds a variable that boosts how muscles respond, in turn creating more power that elevates jumping height.
Speed is widely considered to be the most needed attributes in athletics. Explosive speed can be identified by the amount of force released at the beginning of a straight-line, or lateral movement. Ideally, athletes should try to apply the maximum amount of power into the ground with each stride as they run. The more force that goes into the ground translates into running at a faster rate of speed.
An explosive burst of speed, or lack thereof, can be the difference between getting to a loose ball in the final seconds of a ball game, or getting around the corner and into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
The explosive nature of plyometric drills help athletes build the speed necessary to gain a competitive edge.
Plyometrics are essential for athletes looking to boost their level of performance. Dedicating 2-3 times per week to work on plyometrics will result in a notable increase of power, explosion, and speed. After the proper mechanics of plyometrics have been perfected, resistance can be added to make the muscles work harder, and become stronger. Here is a short list of basic plyometric exercises that you can add to your workout program:
- Broad Jumps
- Depth Jumps
- One Foot Hops
- Rocket Jumps
- Split Jumps
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