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From the Sideline: Plyometrics or Jump Training

By Cierra Washington, ATC

Since our first ‘From the Sideline’, I’ve talked about proper warm up routines and how to build the stability of isolated and functional muscle strength. SO now it’s now time to challenge the athlete’s power. Plyometric exercises help improve an athlete’s power and, therefore, performance of their sport. This kind of training is know as “jump training” and requires the athlete to perform exercises that produce maximum effort with short, quick bursts.

Plyometrics are measured in the number of times contact is made with the ground. For beginner athletes, the recommended number of contacts per session is 60-100 per workout. For intermediate athletes, the recommended number is 100-160 contacts per session and for advanced athletes, that number is 150-200 contacts per session. For beginners, one plyometrics session per week is ideal so the body can get used to the new mode of exertion and allow optimal time to rebuild the muscle energy. The frequency can be increased to 2-3 sessions per week with a minimum of 48-72 hours rest in between for intermediate and     advanced athletes.

Plyometric training is the next step after general strengthening to improve the athlete’s power and explosiveness. You are not only experiencing gains in strength with plyometrics, but you are also improving balance, single-leg strength, explosiveness and speed.

Plyometrics are all about muscular contractions:

  1. Eccentric(pre-stretch): muscular preparation phase
  2. Amortization(the pause): the moment right before the explosive movement
  3. Concentric(shortening): explosive movement where the muscles shorten to fire

Now let’s make this a little easier to understand and use the analogy of a rubber band.

  1. Eccentric: Stretching the rubber band.
  2. Amortization: After you’ve reached optimal stretch, but haven’t launched the rubber band yet.
  3. Concentric: The “LAUNCH”

Some common athletic plyometric requirements are as follows:

  • Being able to balance on ONE leg in a semi-squat position for at least 30 seconds.
  • Being able to perform a jump squat with proper technique.
  • Being able to stabilize the shoulder during functional movements.
  • Being able to hold some type of abdominal isometric for at least 30 seconds.

Plyometrics are measured in the number of times contact is made with the ground. For beginner athletes, the recommended number of contacts per session is 60-100 per workout. For intermediate athletes, the recommended number is 100-160 contacts per session and for advanced athletes, that number is 150-200 contacts per session. For beginners, one plyometrics session per week is ideal so the body can get used to the new mode of exertion and allow optimal time to rebuild the muscle energy. The frequency can be increased to 2-3 sessions per week with a minimum of 48-72 hours rest in between for intermediate and advanced athletes.

  • More power = Less foot contacts =More rest time.
  • Less power = More foot contacts = Less rest time.

So how do you know how often you should be doing plyometric training?

For beginners, one plyometrics session per week is ideal so the body can get used to the new mode of exertion and allow optimal time to rebuild the muscle energy. As the athletes continue to perform these kinds of workouts, the frequency can be increased to 2-3 sessions per week with a minimum of 48-72 hours rest in between. As for progressions, double leg jumps are to be performed first with great technique and then with minimal rest time between reps/sets. Once double leg jumps are no longer challenging, it’s safe to incorporate single leg jumps, (from one leg to the other) and then using the same leg from take-off and landing. After this drill is easier, you can add uneven surfaces to challenge balance, increase the jump height and decrease the rest time to increase cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

Plyometric training is the next step after general strengthening to improve the athlete’s power and explosiveness. You are not only experiencing gains in strength with plyometrics, but you are also improving balance, single-leg strength, explosiveness and speed.

Proper Strength Training Basic Proprioception(Balance) Plyometrics Better All-Around Athletic Performance SAFER PARTICIPATION 

RULE OF THUMB: Never start a new training program without assessing your risk for injury. Jumping into plyometrics training too quickly can result in season-ending injuries. CLICK HERE for a few self assessments you can rty to test your core strength, a key player in stability and keeping you on your feet.