Wanting to become a more resilient athlete? Begin implementing plyometrics into your training routine!
What are plyometrics? Plyometrics, also known as “jump training” are quick, powerful movements that utilize the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) of our muscles. The SSC is when a muscle rapidly lengthens, then immediately rapidly shortens. An easy example of this is to picture a rubber band you want to shoot across the room. In order to shoot it as far as possible you need to stretch the rubber band and quickly release it. This is essentially how the SSC works.
Plyometrics play a vital role in the development of athletic performance by increasing the efficiency of the SSC. The main goals when executing jump training are executing them properly and improving power.
To get the most benefit, the body’s position is very important. Is the body properly loaded before takeoff (i.e. jumping, hopping). How are the forces being accepted during landing? Are the forces efficiently being redirected? To maintain a healthy athlete they must learn to properly control forces through proper execution.
Power is the essence of plyometrics. The right combination of strength and speed is needed to best develop power. During plyometrics, speed is what athletes can best control to improve their SSC.
Sports are competitive physical activities that involve immense amounts of chaotic movements. It is important to mirror the movements that take place in competition to the movement demands of a structured training session. When prescribing plyometrics, the core components can be organized into three categories:
Movement types can be classified into jumps (2 leg takeoff to 2 leg landing), hops (1 leg takeoff to 1 leg landing), and bounds (1 leg takeoff to 1 leg landing, alternating legs).
Direction in which these movements are taking place can be broken down into linear, lateral, and rotational.
Execution of the movement pertains to the primary contraction types. Non-countermovement is a movement that involves no lengthening of the muscle prior to its shortening. Think back to the rubber band example, if it’s pulled back and held for 5 seconds before releasing, there is no pre-stretch, “elasticity” in the movement. Meaning the band won’t shoot its most optimum distance. Countermovement jumps involve a rapid lengthening followed by an immediate shortening. In order to shoot the rubber band it’s most optimum distance, it needs to be quickly stretched and quickly released. Continuous is linking multiple jumps together to form a sequence. Think of a rubber band gun that shoots bands out continuously.
Guidelines to follow:
Frequency: 2-4x a week
Volume: 25-50 contacts per session
Intensity: 2-3 sets, 4-6 reps, 60-180 seconds of complete rest in between sets
Movement types: 1-3, Direction types: 1-2, Execution types: 1-2
Jonathan Brooks BS, CSCS, Performance Manager
Is the Performance Manager of EXOS, a performance training facility in Frisco, Texas. Specifically, Jonathan’s focus has been in developing training methods and building programming for various athletes. During his undergraduate journey, Jonathan was a student-athlete at UNM where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science.