The concept of plyometric exercise is defined as “exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible”. Plyometric training has become a growing necessity in most sports performance training programs. This explosive type of training got its start with mainly Olympic level sprinters and weightlifters in the Eastern European nations. Through years of research and development, the benefits of plyometric exercises can be utilized by almost any athlete in any sport. Plyometric exercises can range from low intensity hops to powerful jumps and bounds. With the wide variety of drills and exercises, plyometric training can allow a sports performance professional to be creative in designing a program that will help each athlete specifically.
One benefit of plyometric training is that it can crossover into a large number of sports. Plyometric exercises are not confined to one or two sports. As long as the sport requires the athlete to accelerate and decelerate on a stable surface, performance gains can be made using plyometric drills. The reason for this is that the main product of plyometric exercises is power. Power is the ability to exert force rapidly. Power development is universal in most sports. From a running back accelerating through an opening in the defense to a figure skater pushing off the ice to complete their acrobatic maneuvers, the proper use of plyometric training will help them reach their full potential.
Plyometric exercises can also prove to enhance an already great training program. Many athletes have improved with the strength base gained from traditional resistance training regiments. Speed form work has helped many athletes improve their sprinting speed. When an athlete properly adds plyometric training to these programs, the results speak for themselves. The power derived from plyometrics can make a good strength and speed program great. Another benefit of plyometrics is the efficiency of training time and equipment. Due to the specificity and intensity of the training, the athlete does not need to spend hours in a gym to finish a plyometric workout. To get the full advantage of plyometrics, total training time should no longer than 30 minutes, when proper recovery time is used. Equipment needs are very low with this type of training. Basic grass fields are a great place to start a beginning plyometric program. The athlete can then progress to the use of small to medium height cones. Advanced athletes will move on to use stackable boxes and medicine balls. All of this equipment can be found at a fraction of the cost of traditional strength training equipment and can be taken almost anywhere.
Plyometric training should be a part of a well rounded training program that focuses on all aspects of athleticism. Like any other training program, proper instruction and progression should be adhered to. Start with the basic exercises and work your way up to the more complex and explosive plyometric drills. Consult your local certified strength and conditioning coach to help you implement these exercises correctly.