MODULE 3.5: Plyometrics

Why is plyometric performance important?

Plyometric performance is important for three reasons:

  1. A good vertical or horizontal jump performance is obviously advantageous in most sports

  2. Plyometrics, particularly single leg plyometrics, load the lower body more aggressively than almost any other movements our athletes are exposed to. Hence exposure to and mastering of aggressive plyometric variations will develop an athletes ability to absorb force/power, and also produce power

  3. By extension to reason 2, mastering these high force/power movements will significantly reduce an athlete's risk of injury, as they are unlikely to encounter movements or positions in their sport where they have insufficient strength/power and breakdown as a result.

What physical characteristics are required for plyometric performance?

There are several ways that we like to categorise our plyometrics, one method is categorising plyometrics according to the joint that is most influential on the performance of that plyometric. Hence most plyometrics can be classified as either hip dominant, knee dominant, or ankle dominant plyometrics. To determine what category a plyometric may fit in, it is important to analyse which joint is undergoing the most displacement, and which muscle group might be working in the most disadvantageous position (often these two things go hand in hand). Once you know what type of plyometric it is, that will then tell you what physical characteristics are most important for the success of that plyometric: hip or knee or ankle extension force/power.

Another method we use to classify plyometrics is whether they're fast or slow plyometrics. This is to do with the ground contact times, where fast plyometrics generally have 100-200ms ground contact times, whereas slow plyometrics have 200-600ms ground contacts. Faster ground contacts require larger rates of extension force development (i.e. more power), whereas slower ground contacts require larger peak extension force development (i.e. more strength), all else being equal. 

The final characteristic that is important to consider for plyometric performance, is the athlete's ability to control the landing and stabilise appropriately. It's obviously necessary to have sufficient strength and power to land the plyometric, however it is equally as important to be able to coordinate that strength/power appropriately such that the athlete does not fall. 

What are the technical KPI's of plyometric performance?

Very plyometric dependent, vague suggestions:

  • Make sure plyometrics are executed in accordance with the goals of the movement

    • If your plyometrics are slow... Probably not training rate of force development....

  • Make sure athlete is always completing plyometrics with maximal intent

    • Must be pushing as hard they can​

  • Make sure plyometrics "look athletic"

    • If it looks, smells, and sounds athletic... It probably is!

What plyometric variations exist?

​Many categories, even more variations in each category. We strongly encourage you to watch the following video that breaks these variations down well with suggestions for each.

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