Top college and professional athletes make plyometrics a regular part of their training routines for one very good reason: plyos build explosiveness. All high school athletes looking to gain an edge via their training should think about incorporating more explosive movements into their workouts.
Coach Tom Shaw, founder of Tom Shaw Performance Enhancement and an NFL development guru who has worked with more than 100 first-round NFL Draft picks and 10 Superbowl MVPs, cites the importance of explosive movement and agility. “Athletes must be able to move in a variety of directions—as well as change directions quickly,” he says.
Here's a handy, STACK-approved list on dos and don'ts of plyometrics, loaded with principles from Shaw's elite training.
Wear the Right Shoes
Although barefoot training sneakers are all the rage, they are not necessarily the best shoe choice for all types of workouts. Plyometric movements are explosive, so it's important to have a cushion around your feet to protect against injuries to ligaments, tendons and small muscle groups.
Train Through the Season
Overtraining during the season is a valid concern, but you should continue plyometrics once the games start. Just reduce the workload to accommodate practices, classes and other commitments. Eliminating plyos completely could mean diminished explosion on the playing field. Make sure to discuss your course of action with one of your coaches.
During the season, perform one to two sessions each week. Off-season, bump it up to two to three per week. Beginners should start with three or four sets and limit themselves to 15 to 20 total reps.
Give Max Effort on Every Rep
Plyometrics are demanding and difficult, but they offer great rewards. Never go through a set of any type of plyometric training with less-than-perfect form or subpar intensity. It's important to go as hard as possible to get the full benefits of the movement pattern. When form starts to suffer, it's time to stop.
Train Too Long
Never perform plyometrics for more than 25 minutes at a time. The body cannot be stressed with high-intensity movement patterns any longer than that without serious risk of injury. Keep the work-to-rest ratio at 1:5 or 1:10. After you perform an exercise for 10 seconds, rest for between 50 and 100 seconds. Also, make sure to allow 48 to 72 hours between plyo workouts.
Perform Random Movements
Plyometrics work best when they translate directly to the playing field. Incorporate exercises that replicate movements your body makes in competition. This gives your muscles the chance to get stronger during training, which makes them able to fire faster during games.
Repeat the Same Exercises
One key to proper plyometric training is variety. By working through different movements, smaller muscle groups are trained to respond to stress. That means during games, your body will respond well. But going through the same exercises over and over won't do the trick. To get the most out of the session, vary the movements. Basketball players will benefit from Single-Leg Vertical Jumps; hockey players should incorporate Lateral Bounding; and football players should work in Plyo Push-Ups.
Get started with plyometric exercises now.