Want to improve your vertical jump? How about your speed and agility? Add plyometric drills to your strength and conditioning program to quickly increase your explosive power.
Lifting heavy weights won't help you much on the field if you can't lift them fast. A 400-pound Squat won't help you jump any higher than a teammate who can only squat 200 pounds. You'll run faster and jump higher if you're able to put more force into the ground quicker. (Check out Increase your power with sand plyos.)
Plyometric exercises enable muscles to reach maximum force in the shortest possible time, using something called the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). The exercises increase the power of subsequent movements by using both the natural elastic components of muscle and tendon, and the stretch reflex.1
The exercises must be quick and powerful movements that follow the pattern below:
Lower-body plyometrics are appropriate for virtually any athlete in any sport. These drills usually involve hopping and jumping, and include the following:
Plyometric drills for the upper body are not performed as often as those for the lower body, but they should not be ignored. The upper body needs to be explosive for throwing, swinging and pushing.
Plyo exercises place great stress on muscles, tendons and joints; and too much plyo work can cause injury or inhibit performance. Therefore, it's important to carefully plan your plyo workouts and listen to your body.
Plyometric training sessions can be performed one to three times per week, depending on your sport and the time of year. Base the workouts on the following guidelines:
1 Jared W. Coburn and Moh H. Malek, Eds., NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training. 2nd. Ed., 2011.