Aloha CAMPers, today we’re gonna take a look at how doing plyometrics with good technique and in the proper setting can boost your performance as an athlete. Plyometrics began in Europe in the 1970’s, and was simply known as “jump training.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that plyometrics were developed in Europe, when so many of those athletes were doing so well.
If you remember reading the Intro to Plyometrics blog by Sean, it talked about the purpose of plyometrics, which is to allow the muscle to reach its maximum strength in the shortest amount of time possible. When doing a plyometric exercise muscles go through a series of actions. First, the muscle undergoes a rapidly forceful stretch, which can briefly store potential energy along with a quick eccentric contraction. Following that, the nerves fire information to the muscle to then cause a concentric contraction. Sounds like a lot right? Well, these types of muscle responses occur with no conscious thought on the part of the athlete. To help visualize this process, think of a rubber band when you stretch it. There is a potential for a rapid return to its normal length.
Now that we are all experts on how the stretch-shortening cycle works…or not, we will explore some of the benefits of plyometrics. One of the greatest benefits athletically is that it increases power (power=strength x speed). Along with power, plyometrics increase muscle reaction. These two benefits directly relate to running and jumping, which you’ll be doing a lot of in practices and competition. Doing plyometric exercises trains your body to move more efficiently whether it be in running, jumping, throwing, swimming or another sport-specific movement to produce consistent peak performance.
Now that I’ve gotten you all psyched about skippin and jumpin, you need to understand the importance of safety when it comes to this type of training. Most of these exercises are explosive and can place incredible amounts of stress on the joints of the body. Performed with the wrong technique, these exercises can quickly result in injury. It is better to start “low and slow,” and gradually progress to higher and quicker jumps and throws. Also, maintaining proper posture and alignment is critical when performing these exercises. Instead of trying to do them by yourself…just come on in and we’ll take care of ya!
Akamu Aki Performance Specialist / Trainer CAMP, Building Better Athletes LLC