I can hear all of you out there, saying “Finally, coach j’s done with the theory part!”. Well, for the most part, I am. We will touch back to it a few times, but only so that we understand the practical application.

Is plyometric training for everyone? Not necessarily. One factor that should play a role in a decision to begin a plyometrics program is chronological age, or how old you are in years. The consistent application of overloading involved in intense plyometric training may not be appropriate for the very young. Another factor that deserves a look is one’s “training age” or, how experienced is the athlete. Training experience can play a huge factor in whether or not an athlete is able to put together complex movement patterns explosively. At one time, there was a rule of thumb that trainers and coaches followed – the athlete must be able to squat 1.5 times their bodyweight before attempting plyometrics. This “rule” may still be adhered to by some, however, in my opinion each athlete must be looked at as an individual; their level of training experience and their overall fitness play a much larger role in determining their ability to begin a basic plyometric program.

The basic lower body plyometric program might start out with pogos. This exercise is performed from a standing position with the arms at the sides and the upper body held upright. The “spring” comes from a small, quick flexion at the hip, knee, and ankle joints followed by a powerful triple extension of those same joints. The ankles must be recovered in the air; that is to say, the foot is dorsiflexed after it leaves the ground. The landing, as with all plyometric drills, is performed as a preparation for the next takeoff in a front two-thirds to full foot contact. There should be no recruitment of the upper body when performing pogos. A single set of 20 should be enough to get us started.

Our next exercise is the standing long jump combined into a series of 5 jumps, known as the penta-jump. This exercise incorporates many of the same elements as the pogo but also utilizes the upper body to gain additional lift. The penta-jump requires the athlete to jump out as far as possible and spend a minimal amount of time on the ground in between jumps. The powerful triple extension is fully utilized in this exercise as well as the added element of cycling the legs through for the landing phase. Three sets of penta-jumps are performed in a 5:1 rest:work ratio. That is to say, if the penta-jump takes 10 seconds to perform, then the rest period should be 50 seconds. The lengthy rest is necessary when training plyometrically in order to facilitate maximal effort in the work phase – no half-hearted efforts allowed!

Skipping is another basic plyometric drill. This drill has the added benefit of mimicking sprint mechanics in that a high knee drive is necessary and it allows us to practice our arm drive as well. The feet must dorsiflex upon leaving the ground and cycle quickly. Skipping is the basic movement, progressing to fast skipping (staying low to the ground and cycling through as fast a rhythm as possible), and finally to power skipping for height and distance (to be discussed at a later date). Three to five sets of approximately 10 – 12 yards should be undertaken with a 5:1 rest:work ratio.