Why Do Plyometrics?
Upper and lower limb plyometric exercises can be combined for sport specificity and to enhance neuromuscular coordination of multiple body segments.
In the useful definition of Wilson et al: ‘Plyometric training uses the acceleration and deceleration of bodyweight as the overload in dynamic activities such as depth jumping and bounding.
The technique first became popular in the 1960s and 1970s when east European coaches achieved impressive results in jumping events. Since then, research has conclusively demonstrated the efficacy of plyometric training in sports requiring dynamic movements.
Onfield Explosive Power
Plyometrics provides the link that can turn strength from traditional weight training into on-court or onfield explosive power. For optimal results, plyometrics should be combined with strength training as part of a periodised programme.
The exercises are performed at high velocity over short time frames and ‘promote the ability to utilise the stretch-shorten cycle by enhancing the use of elastic energy and the stretch reflex.
Plyometric exercises for the lower limbs consist of bounding, hopping, jumping from a height and rebounding etc; for the upper limb they usually involve throwing medicine balls in different ways, such as rotating or overhead double or single arm throws.
How to Introduce Plyometrics
Introduce plyometrics within a periodised scheme: When the athlete is ready to begin plyometrics, this element must be incorporated as part of the comprehensive periodised programme. Table 2 below shows the stages at which plyometrics fits into a programme, bearing in mind that this will vary depending on the specific sport and the cycle of competitive phases throughout the year.
This integration ensures that the athlete’s body is given the best chance to adapt to training and be ready for the demands of the plyometric component, thereby minimising injury risk and optimising performance benefits.
Periodised plyometrics programme:-
1 Preparatory phase
conversion to power:
power exercises and plyometrics
2 Competitive phase
some plyometric training
The plyometrics component must be progressive: the plyometrics programme needs to be graded in terms of the stress placed on the body. It should begin with low- to medium-level exercises such as ankle bounces or a single standing long jump, and progress to highlevel exercises, such as depth jumps or continuous hurdle hops.
The timing of plyometric sessions should be planned carefully. For example, doing plyometrics after a hard skills or team session would be counterproductive.
Sports Therapy Scotland has used Plyometric Training for various client and sports teams for several years with excellent results.Get in touch if you are interested in Plyometric Training.