Plyometrics are a type of exercise designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance. Plyometric movements utilise the stretch shortening cycle (SSC), in which a muscle is loaded in the eccentric (lowering, muscle lengthening) phase and then contracted in rapid sequence (concentric, muscle shortens).
The progressions in the Sussexsport Fitness Training Philosophy follow a path where you get use to loading the muscle before you actually start to jump and land. This teaches the correct sequence for the SSC and primes the nervous system.
The body position should be chest up, hips back (slight lean forwards), feet in contact with the floor and knees in line with the shoulders (picture above). The start of the jump and finish of the landing should be the same position. If the hips drop lower on the landing than the take off, the intensity of the plyometric jump was greater than what you can handle. Remember the emphasis with plyometrics is quality, it is better to perform 3 decent jumps and stop than add 3 rubbish jumps.
Plyometric exercises come in many different forms. The progressions start with the most basic forms in Linear and Lateral / Medial plyometrics. Consider this the foundation, if you are unable to do these then by going straight into high intensity plyometrics is likely to cause yourself an injury. If you progress when you have learnt and mastered the basics then the next step into plyometrics will place less stress on your joints and tendons.
The main focus on any of the plyometric exercises is to:
- make sure the knees do not turn in or out
- quiet landings
- land on ball of foot then move back onto heels
- legs not straight, slight bend at the knees on landing
- hips back (slight lean forwards), feet contact with the floor and knees in line with the shoulders
Progressions on plyometrics should be double leg to single leg in the same session. The reason being in sports how often do performers land, jump or push off from two feet?
Power exercise should also be performed at the start of a session. These are a type of plyometric exercise mainly for the upper body and involve kettlebells and medicine balls.
Three Single Leg Landings
Four Box Jumps
Five Hurdle Jump #1
Six Hurdle Jump #2
Seven Hurdle Jump Continuous
Lateral / Medial
Two One Leg Box Jump
One Dumbbell Snatch
Two Squat Jump
Three Side Twist and Throw