Plyometrics are great for building athletic explosiveness in sports, and for decades performance trainers have used them to elicit this effect. I believe you can take this to the next level by combining plyometrics with agility drills.
It’s common to combine plyos with strength work (e.g., perform a set of Back Squats, then a set of Plyo Box Jumps), yet uncommon to combine plyos with agility work (e.g., perform a forward jump over a box, land and explode immediately into a 5-10-5 Shuttle). Yet the rigors of competition will often demand athletes to perform a plyometric-type movement quickly followed by a change of direction.
Plyos and agility work are often done separately from one another, with training sessions devoted to either one or the other. However, when done in conjunction, plyo and agility work can be a lethal athletic weapon in an athlete’s arsenal.
By beginning a drill with an explosive plyometric movement then quickly transitioning into a high-end agility movement drill, the body goes from “explosive action to agility action” with little or no lag time in between. The athlete will rarely be allowed lag time between these actions during competition, so why not practice making the transition quick and efficient?
A key component to making the most out of this drill is to make sure the action is “seamless” between the plyo and agility drills. The instant that the plyo drill is complete, immediately initiate action to perform the agility drill. I phrase it this way to my athletes: “The moment your feet touch the ground after the plyo drill, get right into the agility drill!”
It should be noted that this type of drills should be reserved for athletes who’ve mastered basic plyometrics and proper landing mechanics. Proper landing mechanics must still be emphasized in these drills, and if a coach sees them breaking down, it’s a signal to regress the drill.
Some general tips for the following drills:
- Get into your agility action as soon as the plyo action ends (but maintain proper landing mechanics.)
- Think landing “soft” and “quiet” on your plyo landings.
- Use fast arm action during the agility drills.
- Don’t treat each drill as two separate parts. Treat it like one drill with two components—an explosive component and an agility component.
Box Jump+5/10/5 shuttle
Equipment: plyo box and cones
Set-Up: Place box on the ground and one cone 5 yards to the left of the box and another cone 5 yards to the right of the box.
Directions: Standing behind the box, perform a plyo box jump either on and off of the box or completely over the box. Upon landing, explode into a 5/10/5 shuttle. Make sure you get an equal number of reps starting the drill to your right and to your left.
Box Jump+Cone Weave Drill
Equipment: plyo box and cones
Set-Up: After putting the box down on the ground, place 4 cones in a square about 5 yards in front of the box.
Directions: Perform a plyo box jump on and off of the box or over the box. After landing, immediately weave through the four off-set cones placed on the ground. Complete an equal number of reps starting the weave drill to your right as your left.
Box Jump+Ladder Drill
(NOTE: Although agility ladders do not fall under the category of agility training for most people, I have included this drill because I believe it is a great example of combining plyos with another type of training, and it works really well with box jumps!)
Equipment: plyo box and agility ladder
Set-Up: plyo box a couple feet in front of an outstretched agility ladder.
Details: Perform a plyometric box jump over or on top of the box. Upon landing, immediately perform a forward-facing ladder drill.