Reasons for Doing Plyometric Training
In the sports performance industry, there are many facilities that offer jump training specifically for volleyball and basketball athletes only. The truth is that jump training is universally beneficial for almost every sport. While some movements may be specific to a particular sport, it is crucial that athletes learn to land, jump, and produce force.
The biggest reason for doing jump training is learning to create power through triple extension. Triple extension refers to the ankle, knee and hip in full extension. Triple extension is readily apparent in nearly every form of sport, such as a basketball exploding upward to snare a rebound or a football player jumping to catch a pass.
Learning to create power from the triple extension movement is a critical skill for any athlete and is one of the main reasons why plyometric training is so valuable to an athlete.
Plyometric training, commonly referred to as “jump training,” is important because it requires the athlete to not only learn to be powerful and create force, but also teaches him or her how to land and absorb force as well.
Many injuries in sports occur in the landing position. Not many athletes get injured during the jump phase, which is why it is important to teach the landing first.
Another reason why plyometric training is great for all athletes is because there is direct correlation to becoming faster. This is because the production of force used to overcoming gravity is related to the force required when sprinting and overcoming that inertia as well.
Learning to apply and direct force downward will teach the athlete to apply that force in other manners.
Six Stages of Teaching Jump Training
So what is the progression for teaching jump training? Here are the six stages of teaching proper jump training protocol:
Stage #1: Landing technique
Learning to absorb force and ensuring proper alignment with the ankle, knee, and hip is great for injury prevention. Correcting these problems will help the athlete avoid serious landing injuries. Exercises that may be utilized to improve landings include:
Drop squats: starting in a standing position, drop down into a squat with your arms back.
Depth jump holds: from a 6-inch box, step off the box with 1 foot and land into a squat position with your arms back. Hold the position for 2 seconds.
Stage #2: Jumping with a landing “stick”
Learning to jump and “stick” a landing is the next thing that we teach. Once the athlete has a grasp on landing and absorption, we then let them jump and absorb the landing. We might use a low box or hurdle. We avoid repetitive jumping in this phase and work on power development and absorption.
Stage #3: Jumping with a mini-hop
Once the first two phases are complete, we then go into some repetitive jumping. We do this in a controlled manner and generally start with lower hurdles. The athlete will jump and land, do a mini-hop in place, then repeat the jump.
This does a few things. First it teaches the athlete to react and then it works on the athlete’s stretch shortening cycle, which is a key to creating power.
Stage #4: Jumping with counter-movement
This is when true plyometric movements take place. Repetitive jumping, generally over hurdles, is a great way to not only work on the stretch shortening cycle but the reactivity of the athlete.
Stage #5: Depth-jump to box or hurdle jumps
Utilizing the progressions above, the final stage is combining movements. For example, depth jumps combine the beginning phase of teaching a landing then incorporating a box jump, hurdle jump or any modality you see fit based on the athlete.
Stage #6: Single-leg jumping
The utilization of single leg training is crucial for overall performance and most importantly injury prevention. With the same guidelines as mentioned above, you can and should incorporate single-leg jump training. Using modalities such as boxes, hurdles, and even just a line on the floor, single-leg training should be a part of your program.
There are other modalities to plyometric training, but the above progression is a basic rendition of how it should be taught. From simple to complex, plyometrics are great for all athletes, provided that the YFS understands how and when to progress or regress training appropriately based upon the athlete’s developmental level and abilities.
Plyometric Training Phases for Beginners
Plyometrics can be used to reinforce proper landing and proper power output, which can help a young athlete become stronger and more reactive. Below are 2 training phases for beginner athletes.
A Phase 1 Plyometric Training Cycle for Beginner Athletes
|Box Jump||3||3||Box 12-18 inch. Hold landing for 2 seconds.|
|Single Leg Hurdle Hop||3||4||Mini hurdle or line on floor pause between each movement.|
A Phase 2 Plyometric Training Cycle for Beginner Athletes
|Box Jump||3||4||Box height of 18-24 inch. Hold landing for 2 seconds.|
|Hurdle Hop NC (non counter movement)||3||4||Use hurdle of 12 inches. Jump and stick each landing. Reset and repeat.|
|Single Leg Hurdle Hop||3||4||Mini hurdle or line on floor. Pause between each movement.|
With the examples above, notice the relative consistency throughout. There is not that much “going on” with regards to the program, but the athletes are learning to generate power at the correct rate. It is also suggested to have the athlete perform linear jumping twice a week and lateral jumping twice a week.
Lateral jumping is excellent for all athletes in getting more production in unfamiliar directions and learning how to accept load on the body in different positions. Lateral plyometric training is far more simplistic and some of the exercises mimic linear jumping (for example, lateral box jump, lateral hurdle hops, and lateral single leg jumps). The above guidelines stay the same in terms of progression.
Plyometrics are not only a great tool to teach power and force production, but they are also a key in injury prevention. Having the appropriate progression strategy and employing it consistently is a valuable skill when programming for athletes in various sports, ages and abilities.
Brad Leshinske, BS, CSCS
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