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A.D.’s Corner: July 17, 2009

Off Season Conditioning With Plyometrics

The idea of plyometrics is to develop the greatest amount of force in the shortest amount of time. Plyometrics is one of the best ways if not the best way to improve power. Power is similar to strength except you are adding a time factor. Therefore the relation of strength and speed is what we are talking about when we talk about power. A person who can perform a specific resistance movement, such as jumping, bench press etc., the fastest would be said to have more power in that movement. So what we are looking at is not just the contraction of the muscle, but how fast will it contract. Plyometric exercises also train an athlete to absorb shock better, improving resiliency in the joints and soft tissue. With plyometric training, an athlete is able to sustain repetitive contractions over time, say continuous jumping for a rebound in basketball. You develop strength and power through a broad range of motion, while creating a more versatile muscle and joint. Some exercises include: jumps-in-place, standing jumps, multiple jumps, box drills, depth jumps, bounding, and medicine ball exercises.


Some Important Rules

- Always warm up and stretch, especially the legs.

- Explosive movements are required for optimum results.

- Correct foot placement is essential.

- Adequate recovery between reps cannot be stressed enough.

- Use only your body weight when performing plyometric exercises.

- Keep your body balanced.

- Consult a qualified fitness professional before starting a program

An Example Program for Beginners

Warm Up: An absolute must prior to doing this circuit. Spend five –10 minutes working gradually on an exercise bike, or fast walk / light jog. Follow this by a further five minutes of skipping, before stretching, especially your quadriceps and calf muscles.

Lateral Hops over Cone (20 reps) Elapsed Time: 9.5 - 10 min

Purpose: Increase power/strength emphasizing neuromuscular control.

Stand with a 6” cone to your left. Hop to the left over the cone softly landing on the balls of your feet land bending at the knee. Repeat this exercise hopping to the right.

Forward/Backward Hops over cone (20 reps) Elapsed Time: 10 - 10.5 min

Purpose: Increase power/strength emphasizing neuromuscular control.

Hop over the cone/ball softly landing on the balls of your feet and bending at the knee. Now, hop backwards over the ball using the same landing technique. Be careful not to snap your knee back to straighten it. You want to maintain a slight bend to the knee. Repeat for 20 reps.

Single Leg Hops over cone (20 reps) Elapsed Time: 10.5 - 11 min

Purpose: Increase power/strength emphasizing neuromuscular control.

Hop over the cone/ball landing on the ball of your foot, bending at the knee. Now, hop backwards over the ball using the same landing technique. Be careful not to snap your knee back to straighten it. You want to maintain a slight bend to the knee. Repeat for 20 reps. Now, stand on the left leg and repeat the exercise. Increase the number of repetitions as needed.

Vertical Jumps with headers (20 reps) Elapsed Time: 11 - 11.5 min

Purpose: Increase height of vertical jump.

Stand forward with hands at your side. Slightly bend the knees and push off jumping straight up. Remember the proper landing technique; accept the weight on the ball of your foot with a slight bend to the knee. Repeat 20 times and switch sides.

Scissors Jump (20 reps) Elapsed Time: 11.5 - 12 min

Purpose: Increase power and strength of vertical jump.

Lunge forward leading with your right leg. Keep your knee over your ankle. Now, push off with your right foot and propel your left leg forward into a lunge position. Be sure your knee does not cave in or out. It should be stable and directly over the ankle. Remember the proper landing technique; accept the weight on the ball of your foot with a slight bend to the knee. Repeat 20 times.

Cool Down: by fast walking, taking long strides, and pushing up with your toes in order to feel a stretch in your calf muscles. Spend at least 10 minutes on stretching your legs, as the muscle fibers will certainly feel sore.


Dr. Silverman is the districtwide athletic coordinator for Glen Cove schools. He has a degree in sport and exercise psychology from Boston University. He has worked with high school to professional athletes on performance enhancement and has appeared on a number of sports programs discussing the topic of youth sports. He has a passion for making athletics the best possible experience it can be for all young athletes, as well as ensuring all youth have an opportunity to use sport as a learning tool about life and health. Dr. Silverman is a fitness buff who still is an avid ice hockey player.