I think of myself as more of a ‘jack-of-all-trades” when it comes to Athlete Performance training, corrective exercise, fat loss, strength development … there I go again, rattling off categories of exercise … That fact is I’m curious about nearly everything (undoubtedly due to my ADD which is another story) which has me constantly investigating which are the best methodologies for developing athletic performance? Along this line of thought; his site is tremendous http://www.athleticdevelopmentblog.com/ and the men that write it; Joe Bonyia and Renato Grammatica are outstanding yet I wonder exactly how beneficial it is for athletes to spend valuable time and energy performing plyometrics, etc drills? Does linebacker Ray Lewis do them? Does the best NFL linemen Jake Long or the best receivers Andre Johnson and Anquan Bolden do them? Are they necessary to optimize performance? PK
Redirecting Plyo Progressions by Joe Bonyia and Renato Grammatica
Continuing the theme of Speed Training with No Space, this post will disclose our stance on plyometric training. Plyos are a critical piece in our programs, but only a piece. Within a training session we will spend about 15 minutes jumping and about 45 or more minutes strength training. Our primary focus is strength, but with limited space, the best way to transition improvements in strength to game performance is through plyometrics.
Plyometric drills improve a number of athletic and physiological capacities including multi-directional acceleration and deceleration by way of improved neuromuscular coordination and enhanced muscle-tendon mechanics and/or elasticity. As long as the appropriate progression is selected, plyos can be used with any athlete from final stage rehabilitation and beyond. I don’t believe there is a critical, minimal level of strength an athlete needs to achieve before they are able to participate in plyo exercises. Kids jump out of trees, play hopscotch and leap frog with very little “strength”; however, an increase in body size will make plyos more stressful. Again, intelligent loading parameters through direction, height, distance, and ground contact time (response) should be used accordingly.
More importantly, when taught with a technical emphasis, multi-directional jumps, hops, and bounds improve athletes’ ground preparation or anticipation. The foot must contact the ground correctly for the body to have a fighting chance to decelerate safely, rapidly, and then re-accelerate in the desired direction without wasted steps or energy. Haphazardly preparing the body for ground contact can lead to ankle sprains, knee injuries, and generally inefficient movement leading to premature fatigue over the course of a game, practice, or conditioning session (a HUGE risk factor for injury).
The plyo-map is different for every athlete; stronger males who need to work on top end speed may spend more time with more reactive jumps, while a female high school soccer player may need to progress toward multi-directional drills for ACL injury prevention. My suggestion for most field and court sport athletes is to pair a jump, hop or bound with deceleration or stabilization emphasis and some type of lower amplitude (short distance, low height) reactive drill with a change-of-direction emphasis. Over the course of a program, the two types of drills will actually progress toward each other and converge into authentic multi-directional plyo drills.
In the video below I demonstrate different types of hops with most of the plyo-parameters I mentioned above. I also demonstrate some drills with a change of direction emphasis. I apologize for the length of some of the clips; I demonstrate some of the more technical drills a few times to provide evidence that I’m not attempting to become a Youtube hit, and that these drills are applicable for trained athletes with appropriate progression.
For more the most comprehensive presentation on the physiology and application of plyometric training, check out Nick Winkelman’s webinar on power development at SCWebinars.com. I also have a presentation there that covers my philosophy on multi-directional ground preparation.