Plyometric Training Basics Post 3

A primary example of an event that benefits from plyometrics is the long jump, which requires the athlete to use the speed from the run into the power to propel the body as far as possible vertically. This sport requires a great deal of technique as well as a high strength-to-weight ratio. Athletes who have a high percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers, advantageous muscle insertions and can fire as many of their total muscle fibers simultaneously as possible are likely to do well in this event. The long jump consists of the approach run, the jump and the landing.

The approach run is to generate the power for the jump, so training for that part of the event would be similar to the training of the 100-meter sprinters. The jump must use the speed of the run to generate maximum speed at an angle that will produce the greatest distance before returning to the ground.

The landing must be done so the athlete does not fall back or land wrong and cause injury. Each part of the event must be improved to achieve maximum performance. The coach assesses the long jumpers form to determine the limiting factor in improving performance. Initially, technique practice, strength training for the primary, secondary and stabilizing muscles, and stretching for the antagonist muscles will go far toward improving performance.

The midsection stabilizes the body, absorbs shock and transfers power between the lower body and the upper body. The upper body moves to maintain balance during the run and jump and helps soften the landing. Therefore, attention must be paid to train the body as a whole.

For more information about strength training for sport, see the following articles on this Web site “Resistance Training: Sport Specific” October 16, 2000; “Strength Speed and Power” October 25, 2000; “Weight Gain, Strength, Speed and Sports Performance” September 5, 2000. Sport specific routines may also be found in sections of this Web site about your sport.

Once the athlete has mastered the technique and developed sufficient and balanced strength and flexibility, plyometric techniques can be used. Since this event is very linear and straight in motion, the plyometrics can focus on forward motion and vertical height. Lateral and backward plyometric drills are not necessary. Jumping, bounding and depth drops will increase lower extremity speed and medicine ball drills can improve midsection and upper body strength.

An example in a less obvious sport is a tennis player who lacks a powerful serve. Initially, the power of the serve can be increased by practicing serves, increasing strength with barbell or cable pullovers, overhead tricep extensions and abdominal crunches, in addition to increasing the flexibility of the shoulders and waist.

After the player has developed more strength and flexibility, they can proceed to plyometric medicine-ball drills such as overhead bounce pass, seated overhead passes and overhead chopping drills in the same position.

In conclusion, plyometrics is a highly effective method of developing speed and power for intermediate and advanced athletes. However, the program should be designed and taught by a competent coach or trainer. It must be integrated into the entire training program including aerobic, anaerobic, flexibility and resistance training to prevent injury and increase effectiveness.

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