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Ultimate Speed Drills: Plyometrics Guide © 2013, Jim Kielbaso Published by the International Youth Conditioning Association PO Box 1539 Elizabethtown, KY 42702 888.785.0422 All rights reserved Ultimate Speed Drills: Plyometrics Guide is published by the International Youth Conditioning Association. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, for any reason or by any means, whether re-drawn, enlarged or otherwise altered including mechanical, photocopy, digital storage & retrieval or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing from both the copyright owner and the publisher. The text, layout and designs presented in this book, as well as the book in its entirety, are protected by the copyright laws of the United States (17 U.S.C. 101 et seq.) and similar laws in other countries. Scanning, uploading and/or distribution of this book, or any designs or photographs contained herein, in whole or part (whether re-drawn, re- photographed or otherwise altered) via the Internet, CD, DVD, E-zine, photocopied hand-outs, or any other means (whether offered for free or for a fee) without the expressed written permission from both the copyright owner and the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. The copyright owner and publisher of this book appreciate your honesty and integrity and ask that you do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted material. Be sure to purchase (or download) only authorized material. Cover design, manuscript layout, and illustrations by NiTROhype Creative PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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Plyometrics Guide | 3 .

cutting. he basic concept of plyometrics is to complete a rapid eccentric contraction just before a rapid concentric contraction. Attempting to pigeonhole drills into specific categories is a waste of time. This is called the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC). There are also proprioceptors in our tendons called Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO) that are sensitive to muscle tension. etc. a good agility session can elicit results similar to a plyo workout. The quicker the stretch. When too much tension is placed on a muscle. The SSC also takes advantage of the Series Elastic Component (SEC) of the muscle structure. When a rapid stretch is placed on a muscle. and the counter-contraction will not be as strong. Because most agility drills utilize nervous system recruitment patterns similar to plyometrics. the focus of this section will be on how to take advantage of different drills and methods. The SEC utilizes the “ratcheting” effect of muscle fibers. This is why you jump higher after dropping quickly into a squat. the stronger the contraction. Many athletic movements (running. The theory behind plyometric training is that these proprioceptors and the involved musculature will “up-regulate” as a result of the training. the GTO can actually turn the muscle off to avoid tearing. muscle spindles inside the muscle fibers sense the stretch and create a rapid contraction. so it is somewhat difficult to distinguish between what is plyometric training and what is agility work. but rather than trying to accurately define terms and categorize exercises. The theory is also that this kind of training will dampen the effect of the GTO’s because they will gradually become accustomed to higher loads. the elastic energy dissipates. skipping. It is important to understand the purpose of drills. This action is used in just about everything we do. muscle spindles inside the muscle fibers sense the stretch and create a rapid contraction. Pre-loading the musculature with the rapid eccentric contraction takes advantage of the elastic properties of human musculature. If the stretch occurs slowly or there is a pause at the top of the stretch. The main differences are that agility drills can more closely simulate actual sport movements. and generally have more of a horizontal component because there is less jumping and 4 | International Youth Conditioning Association . This means that the muscle spindles and musculature will actually contract harder as a result of the nervous system “learning” that we want a more forceful contraction.Plyometrics Guide T When a rapid stretch is placed on a muscle.) also take advantage of this phenomenon. then “snaps” them back after a quick stretch.

and this may be true. a properly implemented plyometric program has the potential to improve multi-directional agility as much as straight-ahead speed. Can you improve speed and agility without plyometrics? Probably. plyos are similar to other training modalities in that they might help an athlete even if used incorrectly. plyos would be considered very “specific” training and may help you feel more explosive in a variety of situations. a good plyometric program should augment your movement training. is to understand how to most effectively use them to improve speed and agility. and help the body take full advantage of whatever strength you have. So. esides all of the scientific literature about plyometrics. we always need to remember that practicing proper mechanics and sport-specific movements is of paramount importance. but they elicit the best results when used properly. but plyos may help your body utilize the strength you gain in the weight room when you’re performing athletic movements. Feel free to insert plyometric exercises into your speed & agility workouts and even into strength training programs. Our goal. we might as well take full advantage of everything out there that is safe and productive. Yet.landing. Will plyometrics enhance your training program? Probably. There is a great deal of scientific evidence showing that plyometrics may be the link between strength training and improved speed or agility. In an effort to enhance sport-specific movement sequences. they (like just about anything) can also be dangerous if used incorrectly. there is also a great deal of anecdotal evidence that suggests plyos will help straight-ahead speed. In comparison to agility drills. then. Of course. But. in comparison to strength training. And since we are not exactly sure what works. How to Use Plyometrics B Plyometrics Guide | 5 . plyos are considered “general” training. Track coaches use them with some of the fastest people on earth. However. Many coaches believe that simply practicing sport skills will help integrate increased strength (through strength training) into sport movement. We also know they have helped improve performance in many research studies. plyos can be combined with other training methods. We know that plyos can be safe if done properly. As long as you focus on quality and allow enough rest between sets. choose plyometric drills that resemble the sport movements as closely as possible.

square sequences and dot drills help athletes get used to bending the knees during different movements. Since the goal of plyometric training is to improve power. and a slight forward body lean with the chest up. with long (1-3 minutes) rest periods. Doing plyos in a fatigued state. doctors. The 6 | International Youth Conditioning Association . See Fig. There are many possible reasons for this problem. and an emphasis on intensity. these drills should always be done when the athlete is relatively fresh and motivated to give maximal effort. coaches and biomechanists are now trying to teach athletes how to absorb shock and control the body when landing from a jump. and even a little scary. difficult. but a properly implemented plyometric program has the potential to teach an athlete the body control necessary to improve this condition. and the programs are showing good results. Improper landings are responsible for many injuries. and plyos can be used to train body control and alignment. Plyo drills like the 4. especially females. Certain plyo exercises can also help athletes feel more comfortable in the “low and wide” position used in directional changes.Many programs are now being implemented with the goal of improving landing technique. A common issue for many athletes is an unsafe valgus moment created at the knee when the body is lowered into a squat-type position. weight distributed on the entire foot. • Land toe-to-heel • Maintain proper knee alignment • Keep feet wide to improve balance and stability • Land in an athletic position with the hips. Therapists. including strength deficiencies and anatomical considerations. 1). or with sub-maximal effort will severely compromise the potential results of a plyometric training program. For many athletes. Other reasons for utilizing plyometrics include the stimulation of the nervous system and the development of eccentric strength that is so important to optimal agility performance. Many programs are now being implemented with the goal of improving landing technique. knees and hips. The main points that should be stressed when coaching proper landings are: • Absorb the shock with the ankles. Many young athletes. it is important to keep the workouts relatively short. One excellent use for plyos is to teach proper lower body mechanics in sport movements. such as landing from a jump. knees and ankles bent. or decelerating the body during a COD (see Fig. 2. exhibit flawed lower body mechanics in COD movements. proper body positioning feels awkward. Because many plyometric exercises place a great deal of stress on the body.

Many Americans like to subscribe to the “more is better” point of view. No one knows exactly what this volume is. quality is much more important that quantity. when the goal is to improve athletic explosiveness. 2: Safe landing from a jump shock of intense plyometric drills can lead to overuse injuries such as patellar or Achilles tendonitis if the volume of work is too high. Some coaches try to count the number of jumps or contacts. Just like speed and agility work. but these numbers are arbitrary and hard to Plyometrics Guide | 7 .Fig. but overtraining with plyometrics is a common problem for many athletes. focusing on quantity can actually have a detrimental effect. Unfortunately. The key is to figure out the minimum amount of work necessary to elicit the optimal result. In fact. 1: Landing from a jump with unsafe valgus moment at knee Fig. the human body does not respond well to high volumes of work.

keep the sets around 4-8 reps. it is recommended that the drill not be used. plyos are not meant to be used as a conditioning drill. This is a decent guideline. • Allow relatively long rest periods (typically 1-3 minutes) between sets. so when in doubt. but the purpose of this manual is to provide basic scientific information and teach the reader practical uses for different training modalities. quality is always much more important than quantity. Remember. but do not progress until the lower level drills are mastered. There are more appropriate ways to enhance aerobic or anaerobic fitness. Younger athletes can engage is low-impact plyo drills 8 | International Youth Conditioning Association . so be sure to keep the intensity high and the volume relatively low. plyos are meant to enhance nervous-system function. quantify because of the different intensities of each plyo drill. Plyometric Training Guidelines • Progress from low-intensity to high-intensity drills. but the athlete must have enough body control and strength to perform the drills with proper technique. Many professionals recommend athletes be able to squat 11/2 times their bodyweight before engaging in plyometrics. When in doubt. If the athlete is unable to demonstrate adequate technique. This is often very subjective. but it is rather arbitrary. so slow down. Research has shown that power output drops dramatically after 5-6 reps in most people. so be sure to keep the intensity high and the volume relatively low.When training the nervous system. There is no reason to perform advanced drills if the rudimentary drills cannot be performed with excellent technique. • Lower intensity drill such as line hops and dot drills can use higher rep ranges (up to 20 seconds or 40 reps). but the recovery must be long enough to allow the athlete to execute the next set with proper technique. • For high power-output jumps such as vertical or long jumps. and concentrate on movement quality. Low-impact drills will require shorter rest periods. slow down. with longer rest periods required for more intense drills. • There is no specific age or strength level necessary to begin a plyo program. Even low. When training the nervous system. progress very slowly. The point is to have sufficient strength to control the forces encountered during landings. quality is always much more important than quantity. There are more complete texts available on the subject of plyometrics.intensity drills will elicit results.

ankles and knees extend. The risk of injury is not worth the potential benefits. The arms will begin behind the body. so there is no real need to use highimpact plyometric drills. start slowly. This is especially true for high volume jumping sports such as basketball and volleyball.• • • • • • • • if they have the strength and body control to perform proper technique. Pre-season and in-season training programs should include a reduced volume of plyometric work because the physical demands on the athlete are already very high. Plyometrics should not be performed every day. This will vary depending on the intensity of the training session. Perform plyometric drills early in the training session when you are relatively fresh and motivated to perform the drills with maximal effort. Limit the amount of plyometric training when an athlete is engaged in a high volume of work or practice. but no more than two workouts per week are necessary in most situations. Jumping in the air is not nearly as demanding as landing. Incorporate aggressive arm swing into jumps. There is no reason to advance too quickly. Large and/or young athletes generally should not engage in high-impact drills. Proper arm swing can greatly enhance jumping ability. so an emphasis should be placed on using proper landing technique. and will be forcefully swung upward (or forward) to create momentum as the hips. Perform plyometric drills early in the training session when you are relatively fresh and motivated to perform the drills with maximal effort. with plyometric drills utilized to supplement the sport-specific training. Below age 14 (in most cases) the focus should be on refining motor skills. When introducing a new drill into a program. Concentrate on proper landings. Plyometrics Guide | 9 . Choose drills that mimic sport-specific movement patterns whenever possible. Allow adequate recovery time between plyometric workouts. Practicing the exact movements used in competition should be a high priority.

A more demanding drill will only help an athlete who is ready for it. Sets can also be timed for the lower-impact drills. 10 | International Youth Conditioning Association . This is a mistake because an athlete who is not prepared to perform a drill will simply reinforce faulty mechanics or increase the risk of injury. Poor technique Proper knee bend and body alignment must be a priority in all plyometric drills. 5-20 seconds per set is appropriate for most exercises. but adequate rest periods are imperative. or long jumps should be performed in sets of 4-8 reps. Lower-impact drills such as 4-square or dot drills can be performed in sets of up to 40 reps. not condition an athlete. The athlete must be able to land softly and under control from any jumping drill. If sub-maximal effort is used as a result of fatigue from improper rest periods. the goal is to improve neuromuscular efficiency.jumps. the effectiveness of the training will be compromised. Take your time. There are much safer and more efficient drills to accomplish this. coach the athlete to push the hips backward during the landing to keep the whole foot on the ground and engage the glutes. bounds. and the rest periods will be relatively long. Instead. Watch for an exaggerated valgus moment at the knee. Give 1-3 minutes between the most intense sets to ensure optimal effort. Performing too many reps per set Most intense plyometric drills such as squat. Many athletes will feel uncomfortable with long rest periods because they are not accustomed to this. You’ll notice the knees pushing forward and the weight will be on the toes. Also watch for landings using only the quadriceps.Common Mistakes with Plyometrics Inadequate intensity and rest periods Optimally. Using plyometrics for fitness conditioning While there can be an anaerobic training effect from some plyometric drills. the intensity will be as high as possible. especially in females. Rushing the progression Many coaches have unprepared athletes perform high-level plyometrics because they assume the more difficult drills will elicit greater results. and progress slowly to more intense drills. One-legged drills will typically have shorter durations than two-legged drills.

Caution should also be used with large athletes whose bodyweight will create a great deal of force on the body during landing or deceleration. stepping down 1-foot Line & Dot Drills Power Skips 2-feet Short Barrier Jumps Tuck jumps 1-foot Short Barrier Jumps Short (less than 12”) Drop Jumps Short (6-12”) Box Jumps High Barrier Jumps Vertical or Squat Jumps Long Jumps Skaters – lateral hops landing on one leg Higher (18-24”) Drop Jumps Higher (18-24”) Box Jumps Split-Squat Jumps Weighted Vertical or Long Jumps 1-leg Repetitive Long Jumps Bounding Drop Jumps with Counter-movements Weighted Drop Jumps Young athletes or those with inadequate strength should not be rushed into high-impact plyometrics. Intensity Continuum for Plyometric Drills T • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • his is a guide to plyometric intensity.Using plyos at the wrong time A fatigued athlete should not perform most plyometric drills. Include plyometrics near the beginning of a workout. It is unnecessary and can reinforce inefficient movement patterns. Using plyos with the wrong people Young athletes or those with inadequate strength should not be rushed into high-impact plyometrics. Plyometrics Guide | 11 . Drills are listed from lowest to highest intensity based on the level of impact. It is unnecessary and can reinforce inefficient movement patterns. complexity and demands of each exercise. 2-feet Line & Dot Drills Box Jumps ON to a box. and they should not be utilized when sport practice includes a great deal of jumping or pounding. and at a time of the training year that allows for optimal recovery.

The ankle circle drill can be used to effectively warm-up and strengthen the lower leg musculature with many athletes. Ankle Conditioning B Fig. This does not take a tremendous amount of time.ecause such extreme demands are placed on the ankle during agility work. Slowly rock your weight forward so that it’s on the outside of your forefoot (basically on your smallest toe). special care should be taken to enhance the function of this area. That is one repetition. stand on both feet with your weight on the outside of each heel. and back to the outside of the heel. A complete warm up routine should include some kind of ankle rolls/ circles to dynamically activate the musculature in the lower leg. The first consideration is properly warming up the ankle. but you may even want to add a few quick response jumps like the 4-square plyometric drill to focus on ankle preparation. then backward to the inside of your heel. To perform the exercise. If there is a history of ankle injuries or shin splints. The rest of the warm up routine should prepare the ankle for training. Continue by transferring your weight to the inside of your big toes. to the outside of your little toe. From there. 3: Ankle rolls 12 | International Youth Conditioning Association . reverse the direction so you’ll rock to the inside of your big toe. but the effort may help reduce the risk of injury as well as improve sport performance. toe taps and bodyweight toe raises can be added to the routine.

powerful stretch placed on it when the foot hits the ground. and ankle conditioning is a concern. or body control. The front leg starts with the hip. These drills are simply intended to strengthen the musculature. For some athletes. knee and ankle flexed tightly in front of you. so be sure good technique is being used. the 4-square drill is an excellent way to train the lower leg and ankle. Another ankle strengthening exercise that can even be used to rehabilitate an injury is the Stork Drill. keeping the ankle flexed. Plyometrics Guide | 13 . this alone will be demanding. Agility work must always be included at some point to stimulate the specific neural pathways used in sport movement. the musculature will contract quickly in response to the fast. The drill will begin just like a wall push drill. the 4-square drill is an excellent way to train the lower leg and ankle. A foot popper needs to be done with great caution and its use should be limited. Perform these drills once or twice a week for 2-4 minutes to keep the ankles functioning optimally. which will more fully engage the lower leg and foot musculature to maintain balance. the downward force you put into the ground will “pop” you upwards slightly. Foot poppers are another exercise that were developed as a foot placement teaching drill that can also be used as a high-intensity plyometric drill to increase the “stiffness” of the lower leg. This reaction will send you upwards. Striking with the toes or heel may cause injury. and ankle conditioning is a concern. Working through different patterns allows the ankle and foot to learn sound mechanics and may improve proprioception. Keep in the mind that a limited number of reps (less than 10) should be performed and that striking the ground through the ball of the foot is critical. especially with an injury. Once this can easily be done for at least 30 seconds.If there is no acute injury. Drive the leg down into the ground through the ball of the foot. This drill begins by simply standing on one foot. To perform a foot popper. If there is no acute injury. This has been shown to stimulate the proprioceptors of an injured leg. You may choose to lean against a wall/object slightly to mimic a forward lean. stand on one leg with the support leg bent slightly. the athlete’s balance can be challenged with unstable surfaces or playing catch. If done correctly with a rigid ankle. Based on the stretch shortening cycle theory.

Fig. 4: Ankle poppers Plyometrics Drills Squat Jumps Can be performed holding the landings or with repeated jumps. 14 | International Youth Conditioning Association . Work on approach jumps by taking one large step forward before the jump. Add a weight vest or dumbbells for added resistance. This is a basic plyo drill that can be used by most athletes.

Fig. 6: Long jump Plyometrics Guide | 15 . 5: Squat jump Fig.

Increase the height of the box as long as technique is sound. Progress to jumping on and off repeatedly. Fig. One leg jumps can be done on very low (6”) boxes. 7: Box jump 16 | International Youth Conditioning Association .Box Jumps Begin by only jumping on to the box.

Jumps should be performed in multiple directions over the obstacle for overall development. Fig. 8: Lateral box jump Plyometrics Guide | 17 . Start with a low obstacle and increase the height as needed.Lateral Box Hops Jump repeatedly side to side over an obstacle.

Fig.Skaters Hop laterally over an obstacle (a ball in the picture). Begin by holding the landings and progress to multiple bounds as quick and far as possible. 9: Skater jump Bounding This is a fairly advanced drill that will help increase stride length. springing off the ground quickly. 10: Bounding 18 | International Youth Conditioning Association . No weight is placed on the obstacle. Jump off of one foot and land on the other. The emphasis is on the lateral movement. Fig.

around the world • 1-foot line hops: forward & backward. Begin by holding the landings and progress to quick bounds.Lateral Bounding Jump laterally (or diagonally) off of one foot and land on the other. This is an excellent drill for developing power and quickness in agility movements. Plyometrics Guide | 19 . • Split Jumps Front & Back: Start in the middle and split your feet so one goes forward and one goes backward. around the world • Split Jumps Sideways: Start in the middle and hop both feet out to the sides and back into the center again. 11: Lateral bounding Hoop Hops A simple hoop can be used for multiple low-impact drills including: • 2-feet line hops: forward & backward. Bring them both back to the middle and repeat with the opposite foot going forward. diagonal. diagonal. side-to-side. Fig. side-to-side.

then move to the other side where you take three steps (i. Another version is to take three steps to one side of the hoop (i. then left. Repeat quickly for time. Fig.• Split Jumps Diagonal: Start in the middle and split your feet so one goes forward on a diagonal and the other goes back on a diagonal. L-R-L).e. 12: Hoop hop 20 | International Youth Conditioning Association . • Fast Feet: Start in the middle. R-L-R) before returning to the middle. back to the middle. then backwards and back to the middle. Bring them both back to the middle and repeat with the opposite foot going forward.e. R-L). You can also do this by moving for-ward. then left foot.e. Return to middle right. Step forward with right foot. two steps back in the middle (i.

Try this jumping off of 2-feet and landing on one. 13: Hurdle hop Plyometrics Guide | 21 . Try this jumping off of 2-feet and landing on one. go over hurdle. jump off 2 legs. • 2-legs. land on one leg • 1-leg. turn 180° in the air as you go over the hurdle so you land facing the hurdle on the other side. go over hurdle forward. you can perform numerous hops and jumps including the following: • 2-legs. facing the hurdle. side to side • 2-legs. facing away from the hurdle. turn 180° in the air as you go over the hurdle so you land facing away from the hurdle on the other side. Fig. and land on one leg • Facing the hurdle.Hurdle Hops Using a small (6-12”) hurdle. forward and backward over the hurdle • Facing sideways. side to side over the hurdle • 2-legs. jump off 2 legs.

Tuck Jumps Jump off of two feet straight up in the air. Jump straight up and pull your toes upward while you’re in the air. Attempt to strike the ground while your ankles are still fairly dorsiflexed instead of plantar-flexed. 14: Tuck jump Ankle Flips This drill is designed to help lower-leg stiffness and control. Fig. quickly pull your knees up toward your chest. As you land. Spend as little time as possible on the ground. While you’re in the air. 22 | International Youth Conditioning Association . try to “attack” the ground with your forefoot so you spring right back up. Don’t point your toes.

A more advanced variation is to have a partner bump you slightly in the air so you have to adjust the landing accordingly.Fig. As a variation. 15: Ankle flip Approach Step Jumps Take a powerful step forward with one foot. Just be sure the contact is controlled. The movement is kind of a step and a hop together before jumping. You can also take multiple steps forward like a volleyball player’s approach before a hit. turn 90° or 180° in the air before landing. Immediately bring the back foot up and jump in the air as high as possible. Try to get as much forward velocity as possible so you can use that momentum to carry you upward for the vertical jump. Plyometrics Guide | 23 .

and jump in the air as high as possible. Be sure to drop down into the bottom of the lunge position on each rep. but don’t let the back knee hit the ground. and land in a lunge position. pull your knees up toward your chest.Split Squat Jumps Start in a lunge position. Repeat. 16: Split squat jump 24 | International Youth Conditioning Association . cycle your legs so the back leg comes to the front and front leg goes back. While you’re in the air. Fig.

This will require the feet to travel farther from the center of gravity. • Attempt to stay low with the knees bent in an effort to simulate COD mechanics. • Add a 6-12” obstacle between each number that the athlete must jump over. Only add a barrier or space between the numbers when proper mechanics are mastered in the basic drill. which will more closely resemble COD movements.Four-Square Pattern Drills The following drills can be performed with 1 foot or 2 feet: 1-2 1-4 1-3 2-4 1-2-3 1-3-2 1-2-3-4 4-3-2-1 1-3-2-4 Variations: • Add a 6-12” “channel” between each number to create longer jumps. Plyometrics Guide | 25 . This will enhance the vertical component of the exercise.

1-2. 3. 5. 3 • 4. 3 • Any variation of these drills can be done one foot at a time 26 | International Youth Conditioning Association . • 1-2. 4-5 • 4-5. 1 • 1-2. 2. 4. 3 • 5. 3. 1 • 4. 1. 5. 3 • 1. 3. 2. 3. 3. 2. 2. 3. 3. Turn. Hyphenated numbers mean that one foot is on each number simultaneously. 3. “Turn” means you twist 180° and continue. 4-5. 3. Turn. 3. 2. work on body control and maintaining knee-bend during each change of direction. 2 • 1. 3 • 1. Like the 4-Square patterns. 3.Dot Drills A single number means the jump is performed with both feet on the same dot unless denoted as a single leg drill. 5. 3 • 4. 3. 4. 3. 1-2 • 1.

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