Plyometrics to Improve Explosive Football Power

Offense or defense, football players need to be powerful and explosive. STACK Expert Jim Carpentier offers 5 plyos that can do the trick.

Med Ball Throw

Regardless of which side of the ball you'll be on this football season, possessing explosive upper- and lower-body power will make you one of the more valuable players on the field. Upper-body explosiveness and speed are required for pushing away opponents at the line and sacking a quarterback or tackling a fullback. And lower-body power is essential for leaping to catch the ball, deflecting or intercepting a pass, eluding a defender, accelerating to the end zone after a catch, or blocking a field goal or extra point.

Plyometric training promotes explosiveness in the hips and legs. Kickers and punters also benefit from plyometric drills when developing leg and hip power for longer kicks and punts.

An On-Field Football Plyometric Workout

No need to do these drills in the weight room. Perform them before or after practice right on the field or in a gymnasium. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between exercises and 15 to 30 seconds between sets.


  • Moderately heavy med ball
  • Three two-foot cones or cardboard boxes (about two feet high and one foot wide)

Standing Med Ball Overhead and Downward Throws

These exercises build explosive power in the shoulders, chest and arms, necessary for blocking or pushing away a defender.

  • Assume an athletic stance holding the med ball at chest level and rapidly throw the ball overhead with your arms extended
  • Catch the ball and immediately fire it up again
  • Do five reps without rest, then hold ball overhead and explosively throw it to the turf, catch it off the turf and immediately throw it down again
  • After five reps, rest 15-30 seconds and repeat sequence

Standing or Seated Partner Med Ball Throws

Pair up with a teammate for Standing or Seated Med Ball Throws.

  • For Standing Throws, face each other in an athletic stance five feet apart
  • Teammate holds the med ball at chest level and fires it to you at top speed
  • Catch the ball and immediately throws it back to your teammate
  • Perform 10 reps
  • Seated Throws are performed the same way, only while sitting
  • Perform two sets of either Standing or Seated Throws

Supine Overhead Throws

If you are exercising alone, this is a great alternative to Standing or Seated Partner Med Ball Throws.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the field
  • Hold med ball on your chest
  • Fire med ball up above your chest, catch it and immediately throw it up again
  • Do two sets of five reps. Rest 15-30 seconds between sets and hydrate

Explosive Push-Ups/Burpees Combo

This combo boosts upper- and lower-body power.

  • Begin in a push-up position, hands shoulder-width apart on the turf
  • Perform five Explosive Push-Ups (hands leaving turf between reps)
  • Perform five Burpees¬†(start in squat position with hands on the floor in front of you, jump your feet back to push-up position, bounce back to the squat position and jump as high as you can out of the squat)
  • Take 15-30 seconds to hydrate and do another combo set

Box or Cone Hurdles/Goalpost Crossbar Jumps Combo

This is an excellent plyometric combo to enhance leg and hip power.

  • Position three boxes or cones about two feet apart under the goalpost
  • Assume an athletic stance ¬†to the right of the first box
  • Laterally hurdle each box or cone and immediately jump as high as possible
  • After hurdling the third box, attempt to touch the crossbar of the goalpost
  • Upon landing, immediately return to the start position by hurdling laterally left over each box
  • Rest for five seconds and repeat sequence four times to finish the set
  • Rest 15-30 seconds

For the second set, instead of lateral hurdles, perform forward hurdles over each box combined with crossbar jumps for five reps.

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