Two Jumps that Make You Faster.

Speed kills.

And the ability to produce force at an incredibly fast rate is the key to athletics. Besides sprinting, plyometrics (specifically jumping), is one of the best ways to train an athlete to produce more force. In a 2017 study athletes who had higher peak power outputs in the vertical jump also ran faster 40 meter dash times (Reference: Loturco, I. et al. (2017) Jump-Squat and Half-Squat Exercises: Selective Influences on Speed-Power Performance of Elite Rugby Sevens Players. PLoS ONE. Ahead of print.). So if training the ability to jump higher will produce faster sprint times then that immediately tells coaches and athletes that plyometrics are extremely important.

Speed kills.

So if jumping is important than what kind of jumping should our athletes perform in training programs? A 2016 study compared the effects of horizontal (ie. broad jump) and vertical jumping. Both jumps showed to increase sprint times, jump height/distance, and change of direction times (Antonio, D. I., Martone, D., Milic, M., & Johnny, P. (2016). Vertical-vs. horizontal-oriented drop-jump training: chronic effects on explosive performances of elite handball players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. In Press.) So athletes need both vertical and horizontal jumping to increase power and speed on the field of play.

So performing both the vertical and broad jump in your programs will increase overall speed, but when should these jumps be completed? Performing plyometrics before sprinting has shown to increase 20 meter and 40 meter sprint times dramatically according to a study from the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. The increases were shown to be as high as .46 seconds in the 20 meter sprint and 0.41 in the 40 meter sprint. These are significant increases in speed!

Performing these exercises immediately after a dynamic warm-up is ideal to central nervous system adaptation.

A sample workout routine would be:

Soft Tissue: Foam Roll

Movement Prep: activation, mobility, & dynamic warm-up

Plyo Prep: Toe Drop-double leg to single leg 2X5ea

Plyometrics: Non-Counter Movement Vertical Jump 4X4

A sample week of plyometrics could be vertical jumps on Monday, horizontal jumps on Wednesday, and lateral jumps on Friday. After jumping technique is mastered, depending on the age of the athlete, load the athlete with a bungee or weighted vest for increased power output. Plyometrics should be completed almost year around except for sports with high volume of jumping/running in their sport such as basketball, soccer, or volleyball. All other sports plyometrics would be a part of there programs year around. Staying under

Jump higher. Run faster.

Systems Based Training

As an athlete you want your strength and conditioning program to give you results. With the YouTube generation of athletes among us, our athletes tend to gravitate more towards exercise programs or exercises that look “cool”, but don’t actually produce results. YouTube box jump and you will see all kinds of ridiculous videos of crazy feats of jumping that’s not actually helping the athlete jump higher. Instead of throwing an exercise or workout on the board for an athlete or team and hoping it sticks. Having systems based training gives athletes the movement patterns they need to develop, and also builds strength in the proper muscle groups to prevent injury. This is the key to taking your athletes training to the next level.

Prior to periodizing a program we need to have assessments, muscular strength testing, and (if proper equipment is available) speed testing. Assuming that all of those boxes have been checked we can now look at our training system. When designing your training system considering equipment, space, and overall facilities that you have at your disposal is going to dictate what lifts are in your programs. For example, if you don’t have bumper plates and platforms and you’re an Olympic lifting guru… either use dumbbells, kettle bells, or find another way to emulate the Olympic lifts. Being principle based as a strength coach and not letting our “philosophy” or pride get in the way of training our athletes will help reproduction of results as well. After considering facilities we then have to look at the sport the athlete plays, how long we will be training that athlete or athletes, and how many times a week they will be training.

Our system for athletic performance training is as follows:

Soft Tissue

Movement Prep

Plyometrics

Movement Skill (Speed Work)

Med Ball Throws

Power/Strength Lifts

Conditioning

What makes a systems based training program is an exercise protocol that has different exercises within it, but stays within its own written principles. The way that this program is structured has a mix of influences within it. Influencers like Joe Kenn’s Tier System, Mike Boyle’s thoughts on program design, Mark Verstegen’s speed tactics, Gray Cooks thoughts on movement, and many of my personal mentors help make the programs that I write for my athletes. Use these programs for your athletes, but make sure you find a training system that fits your program, your athletes and fits YOUR principles. If you’re an athlete, seek out your strength coach and have them build a program for you if they haven’t already. If you’re going to be anything with your workouts athlete or strength coach, BE CONSISTENT!