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5.23.2011

Getting The Jump On Plyometrics

Understanding Plyo-jumping

Having the ability to make great leaps is often advantageous in sport.  Training to jump higher is a skill that is incorporated in most strength and conditioning programs.

The combination of eccentric and concentric actions forms a natural type of muscle function, which physiologists call the stretch-shortening cycle.  Coaches try to augment this sequence of muscle stretch-shortening by developing drills, which they call plyometrics to enhance performance.

Coaches use resistive bands, hurdles, plyo boxes, cones, bounding, countless drills and an endless variety of exercises to develop what they refer to as ‘explosive power’.

When hopping, using hurdles, resistive bands or counter-movement type jumps, something interesting happens in plyometrics that you may not intend.

The goal in the drills is to train the nervous system and increase the active stiffness of the tendons to augment the explosive power of the athlete.

The brains goal is to protect the body from high forces.  Let’s say you are doing a plyometric hurdle drill to increase the power of your Achilles tendon, the purpose the exercise is to eventually run faster and jump higher.  As the intensity and effort of the drill increases the Achilles tendon force may decrease and the patellar tendon force increase as the neurological system tries to lower the forces to decrease strain rates.  This is exactly the opposite result that you want.

Neurologically, developing a strategy of lowering forces rather than increasing performance is not why you are doing the plyometric drill.

Stretch-shortening fatigue is problematic and complex, because of the way in which the neuromuscular system is loaded: mechanically, metabolically and neutrally. So, make sure you know and understand how to use each drill before you begin training.

Training will give you a result, you must make sure it is the result that you want. The best way to train is to practice athletic skills over and over and over and Get all of your musculature Strong.

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