It’s no secret that plyometric training can take an athlete to new levels. However, many athletes and coaches implement plyometrics for beginners incorrectly. Literally jumping from one plyometric drill to the next without any sense of progression negates the massive potential of these exercises. Having a foundational group of plyometrics for beginners is crucial to an athlete’s success. As a physical therapist, I am concerned because when plyometric exercises are implemented incorrectly, the chances of getting injured are much higher.
The first step in a plyometric program for beginners is to ensure that the athlete knows how to effectively absorb force. Imagine a super bouncy ball that is stiff, absorbs force quickly, and bounces really high. Compare that to a beach ball that is soft, cushiony, and does not bounce nearly as high. The super bouncy ball is built to better absorb force and translate it into energy in a new direction. If you want to jump high or run fast, you need to learn how to absorb force first, before you can quickly translate that energy into usable power.
3 Plyometrics for Beginners
Seated Box Jump
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- Starting the exercise in a seated position takes away the countermovement to the jump—i.e., when the athlete dips his or her hips down prior to actually jumping. This allows the athlete to focus on explosive jumping power and emphasize landing mechanics. Landing up on a box reduces some of the impact or shock to the body compared to landing directly back on the ground. Land softly in a semi-squat or good stable athletic position.
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- This exercise starts to increase the demand on the body to absorb more load. Landing in a split-squat position narrows the base of support and starts to teach the front leg how to effectively absorb force.
Split-Squat Jump to Squat
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- This exercise forces the glutes and quads to develop explosive power. Unlike a typical Squat Jump off a 2-foot high box, athletes will not be able to jump as high from a split-squat position. So this exercise provides another environment where they can start to learn how to absorb force.
Each of these exercises emphasizes the landing. The athlete’s goal should be to softly stick the landing in a good athletic stance, with minimal wavering of the knees. Perform these exercises for sets of 3-4 and 4-8 reps, depending on your program.
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