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.
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.