Texas Football's Plyo Routine

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Rose Bowl. Two collegiate juggernauts. More than 1,600 combined victories. Two seconds on the clock. Michigan was beating texas 37-35.

The longhorns' first Rose Bowl victory rested on the strength of kicker Dusty Mangum's right leg. After setting himself up for a 37-yard kick, Mangum kicked the ball perfectly through the uprights. The field goal gave Texas the win over Michigan in the first-ever meeting of the teams.

Although the kick was the final piece to the longhorns' impressive victory, Texas quarterback Vince Young was the real hero of the game. Accounting for all five UT touchdowns—four on the ground and one through the air—Young exemplified speed, explosiveness and phenomenal athleticism. His self-styled Texas two-step had the Wolverine defense uncertain from kickoff through the last tick of the clock.

Young's masterful moves and commanding power resulted from hard work and intense training. Facilitating his performance enhancement was Jeff Madden, the Longhorns' strength coach, who is certified by the National Association of Speed and Explosion.

Madden's list of credentials is as impressive as his 600-pound-plus bench press. He is a member of the board of directors for the international sports sciences association and one of only 10 coaches nationally named Master Strength and Conditioning Coach at the 2001 Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association Convention. Following the successful 2004 football season, the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Society awarded Madden the National Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.

To make Young as untouchable as he was on that New Year's Day bowl game, Madden worked him—and his teammates—with plyometrics. Arguably one of the greatest strength and conditioning minds in college sports, Madden uses plyos to develop strength and power. "Plyometrics are exercises that greatly help in the development of both strength and power in the muscles involved in sprinting. They also help to improve quickness while developing explosiveness," he explains.

To work plyos into training, Madden suggests performing the following drills no more than twice a week. During a particular training session, perform anywhere from 80-100 contacts. Over time, increase the contact number to 100-120, and then eventually up to 140. Obvious improvements result when plyometrics are done properly and consistently.

Rest time should allow full recovery so each set is performed at maximum capability. "Plyometrics are not conditioning exercises for speed endurance, but for the improvement of speed strength. Therefore, it is imperative the athlete rests between sets," says Madden.

Madden asserts that use of plyos helps enhance overall athleticism. "You see a much more graceful athlete," says Madden. "You see their vertical jumps improving and you see guys getting from point a to point B a lot quicker than they would have without using those exercises. You also see much more explosion in exercises like the power clean and the snatch." Madden provided the following eight plyometric drills, which are directly from the UT strength program, to help all athletes develop greater speed, explosion and overall athleticism.

UT Plyometric Drills

Hurdle Hop

Starting Position: Feet together standing directly in front of a hurdle.
Motion: Jump over the first hurdle, land and then quickly jump over the next hurdle (touch-and-go method). Number of hurdles depends on your training level.

Double-Leg Jump for Height

Starting Position: Feet together standing on a box.
Step off the box with one foot leading. Land on both feet then jump explosively vertically as high as you can employing an action/reaction movement. During the explosive jump, extend your hands over your head. Land on both feet.

Double-Leg Jump for Distance

Starting Position: Feet together standing on a box.
Begin just like the Double-Leg Jump for Height, only this time jump forward as far as you can for distance (like the long jump). Land on both feet.

Running with an exaggeration of the normal stride. Bounding improves stride length and stride frequency. Bounding should be performed at distances of 20 to 100 yards, depending on your ability.

High Object

Starting Position: Feet together standing on a box.
Step off the box with one foot leading. Land on both feet then jump explosively vertically onto a taller box placed a few feet in front of the first. When you land on the taller box, jump vertically for height and land under control on both feet on the ground.

Multiple Box Jumps

Use 3-4 boxes in a straight line positioned 3 to 4 feet apart.
Starting Position:
Feet together standing behind a series of boxes.
Jump over the boxes in succession. Advanced athletes can use boxes of different heights.

On-Off Drill

Starting Position: Feet together standing in front of a box.
Jump on the box, jump back down and then repeat this action as fast as possible. This speed drill runs for 20-30 seconds with 30 seconds rest between drills.

Lateral Box Drill

Starting Position: Feet together standing beside a box.
Jump laterally onto the box, jump back down and then repeat this action as fast as possible. This drill is similar to the On-Off Drill, except it is performed laterally or sideways. Run this speed drill 20-30 seconds per drill with 30 seconds rest between drills.

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