If you are looking to apply an explosive edge to your game, be it football, American football, basketball, curling (did I just write curling?) or whatever you can think of, plyometrics will help you get that better first step on the field, pitch, or court. You want to win that 50/50 ball at half field? Burn that defender to get to the disc quickly? Be in the right spot to crush that wide receiver? Read on, my friends.
A lot of these exercises emphasize a decreased amortization period, which is the transition phase between the eccentric and concentric motions of an action. Big words, you say? Muscles work in two directions: concentric, which is the way we think of when we think of a muscle acting and eccentric, when the muscle resists the action of the initial movement. For example, your bicep bends your elbow. That is its concentric action – but when you resist extension (if someone is pulling your bent elbow to straighten it) that is its eccentric motion.
The longer this phase, the slower your movement is, and vice versa – the shorter this phase, the faster your movement is, like the figure below: your goal is to make that part of the curve take less time in order to increase the amount of total force you can exert, instead of wasting it transitioning between motions!
Limiting the amortization phase does not a strong athlete make, however. This amortization phase must be trained with the appropriate amount of weight (usually body weight) and you can add resistance in order to improve the plyometric motion.
Where do you start depends on your functional goals: do you want to jump higher? Gain the extra step you need on the defender (or attacker)? Where you start also depends on the type of sport you play: football, American football, basketball. These sports have different objectives and feels, and therefore, cannot be trained for similarly. You will not see soccer players doing depth jumps and high box jumps; it is very rare you will see them jump for a header and then jump for another header like a basketball player.
Exercises like box jumps are a great place to start. You can start at the top of a step, and what you will do is jump down, and without letting your heels touch the ground, and immediately jump straight back up onto the step. An alternative to this would be jump roping with single, double, or even triple jumps.
Jump Squats. See my squat series. You probably won’t look as good as her, though.
If you are looking to expand your single leg explosiveness which applies to most sports that include running, you can do split squats. Starting at body weight, you’ll be in a lunge position with your front knee not over your big toe. You’ll push straight up and switch your legs. The goal here is to get as high as possible. Swinging your arms is fair game.
Want to make these more difficult? Add weight. Do it with one foot on a step. Do it over an aerobics step and switch sides. The possibilities are endless.
When starting off, you must be aware of the volume of jumps you do. Start easy, with 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions. This is a high impact exercise on your kness; be careful if you do have knee problems, or if you are hypermobile. Make sure your mechanics when you land are proper (see the squat form article here) which applies to both legs!
Feel free to email me with questions or suggestions for things you’d like me to discuss at email@example.com or @e2winnn on twitter.
Be safe, get explosive,