Have you ever wondered how you can benefit from plyometric exercises or what they are? Have you been caught asking yourself any of the following:
• How do I jump higher in volleyball?
• How do I jump higher in basketball?
• How do I run faster?
What about this one – how do I jump higher using plyometrics?
What if we told you plyometric exercises could be beneficial to your rehabilitation program and can improve your athletic performance? Would you believe us? Here let me tell you how!
What are plyometric exercises?
Firstly, plyometric exercises are not just for your elite athletes. They come in many different forms and can be tailored to you to decrease injury risk. So, keep reading regardless if you are a representative footballer or a weekend warrior throwing themselves around the gym for fitness and fun.
Plyometric exercises are a type of exercise like strength and stretching exercises. It involves quick movements with the overall goal to increase power. In this case power means explosive strength like jumping up to grab a ball in the air and being quick about it. Let me break it down further.
• Strength: The amount of weight one can lift or push or bench press.
• Speed: How quick one can run 100 metres.
• Power: Is the combination of strength plus speed. How fast one can move a certain amount of weight.
How Plyometrics Work
The plyometric is broken down into phases where the muscle undergoes a lengthening phase, a switch over phase and a contracting phase.
1. The lengthening phase (Eccentric phase)
In this phase the muscle is stretched to increase the amount of potential energy available for a desired movement.
Example: A basketball player is about to jump for a rebound. The player bends at the hips and knee’s in a squatting motion and they move downwards to the floor.
2. The switch over phase (Time to rebound)
This phase describes the point where the muscle changes from lengthening to contracting. The goal of this to have the shortest time possible to allow a more powerful action.
Example:It is the point where the basketball player stops from continuing downward towards the floor and is right before they start to jump for the ball.
3. The contracting phase (Concentric phase)
This is where the magic happens. The muscle contracts to create the desired movement we are after.
Example: This is where the basketball player jumps from the downward squat position to reach for the ball up in the air.
Benefits of Plyometric Exercises
Plyometric exercises are thought to be the last crucial phase when returning athletes to sport after being injured. The rapid change over from lengthening to contracting increases an individual’s speed and strength that can improve athletic performance.
Injury prevention is a common benefit of plyometric training such as prevention of ankle sprains in netball.
Another sport that heavily benefits from plyometrics is basketball. Jumpers knee.
can be a common issue in basketball, and correct use of plyometrics forms part of the management strategy for this issue.
Plyometrics have shown to improve an individual’s skills by:
• Increasing their vertical jump height
• Increasing their pitching speed
• Improves motor control of the knee when landing to decrease the risk of knee injuries
• Increase reaction time in your sport
• Improves cardiovascular endurance (gets your heart pumping)
Plyometrics are not just beneficial to the elite athlete but here at Coast Sport they are
incorporated within our client’s rehabilitation to return them back to pre-injury activity
and to improve their performance.