Plyometric training, or more simply, jump training, has long been a staple of performance enhancement programs from youth to elite levels. With its focus on generating explosive force in the shortest amount of time and its relative simplicity to implement, jump training has easily been the most frequent method used to develop power in athletes. It is also a key contributor in developing overall speed and athleticism and is one the components of a training program that is most likely to be executed at speeds similar to movements athletes may perform in practice or competition.
Jump Training and Injury Prevention
Perhaps more importantly, though, is the role that jump training can play from an injury reduction standpoint. Just as plyometrics teach an athlete to produce force or accelerate quickly, they have the equal ability to teach an athlete to reduce the force or decelerate quickly. The nature of sports requires athletes to accelerate and decelerate rapidly in the course of performing their duties, and as a result, they must be able to develop a tolerance to that type of stress if they are to remain healthy.
One major benefit of plyometrics is that they allow an athlete to train in many different directions. Since most sports occur in multiple planes and directions, learning how to produce and absorb force in similar ways is vital. Loading and strengthening in these directions are impractical or unsafe in the weight room. Jump training in multiple directions is the safest way to help an athlete adapt to a greater variety of angles, momentums, and stresses. By progressing jumps gradually, athletes will learn to develop greater overall body control, stability and awareness under multi-directional stress. In turn, this awareness will ultimately help make them more resistant to injury.
Most programs focus heavily on vertical and horizontal jumps, and to a lesser degree, lateral jumps. These are all definitely important, but one that is just as important and often overlooked is rotational jumps. Rotational jumps are movements in which an athlete produces force and jumps off the ground facing one direction. Once in the air, their body rotates to a certain degree and lands facing another direction. This type of movement occurs regularly across the sporting domain, such as headers in soccer, rebounding in basketball, and jumping and catching in a variety of sports such as football and baseball. Powerful rotation and absorption is also a common element of many racquets or implements type sports such as tennis, lacrosse, softball, and golf.
Rounding out your jumping program to include some rotational opportunities is a wise move. It will give an athlete greater exposure to a different type of explosive movement and broaden their overall movement repertoire. This will help an athlete react to spontaneous or unfamiliar athletic situations better while helping to prevent injury. With many high school athletes increasingly specializing in one sport and not being exposed to a variety of different movement patterns through multi-sport participation, adding more diversity and generality in our athletic performance programs is even more important than ever. Including a wide variety of jumping and landing scenarios that include rotation is a good place to start.
Implementing rotational plyometrics into a program does not need to be difficult. It will not be taking over the program, but merely contributing further to it. Simply adding some rotational jumps once a week will be enough to complement the other forms already in place and provide a more comprehensive result.
Here are some ways you could include plyometrics into your overall workout based on how many days you train:
4 Plyometric Sessions a Week
- Monday-Vertical Jumps-3 sets (Jumping Up & Down, Landing in Same Place)
- Tuesday-Lateral Jumps-3 sets (Jumping & Covering Distance to Left or Right)
- Thursday-Horizontal Jumps-3 sets (Jumping & Covering Distance Forward)
- Friday-Rotational Jumps-3 sets (Jump Up, Rotate to Left or Right, Land in Same Place)
3 Plyometric Sessions a Week
- Monday- Horizontal or Vertical-3 sets
- Wednesday- Rotational-3 sets
- Friday-Lateral-3 sets
2 Plyometric Sessions a Week:
- Monday-Vertical & Lateral-2 sets each
- Thursday-Horizontal & Rotational-2 sets each
If you have not performed rotational jumps before, the best place to start is a simple 90-degree jump & stick. Jump explosively in a vertical direction, rotate 90 degrees in the air to the right, and stick the landing. Then repeat to the left. Keeping the focus on high-quality jumps with minimal reps, with as little as two to three each side. Due to the rotational component, dizziness can become a problem if you do too many reps, quickly eroding quality. It may also be a good idea to pause for 2-3 seconds to ensure your equilibrium is solid between jumps.
From there, athletes can progress to 180 jumps, double rotational jumps, or one-leg versions such as rotational hops or bounds. They can also be grouped to together with other jumps to form combinations such as a rotational jump to a broad jump. The choices and combinations are limitless, but the important thing is that you find a way to implement this subtle variation in your high school athletes' programs. It is a simple step that will pay dividends for your athletes and ensure they are as prepared as possible to handle their sport demands.
Read More: 5 Ways Athletes Do Plyometrics Wrong