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Columns & Departments: Fitness

Training for vertical jump

using plyometric exercises
oing Up.
Climbing the ladder. Having hops.
Touching the sky. It can help in so
many ways in ultimate, from
hauling in an overthrown disc, to
getting an unexpected mid field d
block on a huck. To increase your
vertical, plyometric exercises may
be just what you need.
Paul Norgaard Photo
Plyometrics involve hopping, bounding, and leaping exercises and were invented
by the very famous Russian researcher Verhoshansky. Verhoshansky or Vert for
short pioneered these exercises in his work with Soviet and eastern bloc track
athletes in the mid 1970s. The incredible success of these athletes in
international competition led to closer scrutiny of Soviet training techniques.
Although plyometrics initially met with some resistance from traditional North
American track and field coaches, they now play a significant role in the training
regimen of elite athletes involved in sports such as soccer, basketball, hockey,
lacrosse, track & field, football, volleyball, skiing, rugby, and competitive curling.
So how do we harness the power of the hop? The first question to address is the
issue of leg strength. Research has shown that improving leg strength using
moderate to heavy squats alone can dramatically increase vertical jumping
ability. Ultimate players tend to have legs that are skinny and wimpy. Facts are
facts; I have played this game for far too long to be convinced otherwise.
Plyometrics are demanding, high-load exercises that can cause stress fractures,
spinal damage, and nauseating pain and anguish if they are done by someone
who lacks adequate leg strength. A good general rule of thumb is to avoid
plyometric training if you are unable to comfortably squat a weight that is two
times your body mass.
If your leg strength is up to snuff you are ready to engage in some light
plyometric training. The idea here is to start slowly and gradually accustom your
body to the huge external forces that are inherent in plyometric training.
Plyometrics involve repeated jumping or leaping activities and take advantage of
the natural elasticity of muscle tissue.
The goal of plyometric training is to improve leg strength, increase the elastic
storage potential of muscle tissue, and to improve the neural coordination of
muscle groups. Training of these elements allows athletes to explode faster and
more powerfully resulting in improved vertical jump.
To begin make sure you have warmed up very thoroughly; 10-15 minutes of
moderate to high intensity running and a comprehensive stretch of all of the
active muscle groups is highly recommended. The exercises included in this
article can be done in a school field and require no additional equipment like
jump boxes or hurdles.
Long a favored training method of
sprinters and long jumpers, strides
are excellent for increasing stride
power and explosive acceleration
Often called Supermans and or
Wonderwomans I have chosen a gender
neutral term for this fantastic exercise
favoured by basketball, volleyball, and rugby
players. This exercise does an excellent job of
isolating the legs and building power for
one-leg takeoffs.
movements translating into faster
sprints and more d-blocks.
Measure out a distance of 7-10 yards
on a running track or school field.
Approach the start line at a slow jog
and then bound from leg to leg to
the finishing line. Remember to
explode as forcefully as possible
each time foot contact is made while
driving the knee up and forward. To
begin, try 5-6 repetitions between
the lines and gradually work to
higher repetitions as your training progresses.
Do you do the double dutch? If not you should be aware that the hopping
action of skipping is a natural plyometric exercise that develops explosive power
and strength in the lower leg. Long a stalwart of professional fighters (boxers,
wrestlers, shoot-fighters), skipping is breaking through as a training method for
other elite sport events.
10-15 minutes of skipping is an excellent full body warm-up and is a good way to
begin a plyometric training session. The intensity of skipping can be increased by
doing high double-leg hops, fast running, intervals, and funky crossovers.
This simple exercise is a favourite of volleyball players and is a very effective way
to improve leaping ability from a stand still and can be done with one or two
For one-legged pop-ups take a large step forward
and pop off that foot as you bring the other leg
forward. For two-legged pop-ups step forward with
the lead leg and jump explosively off both feet as the
second leg joins the first. Remember during each
jump to drive your arms into the air and land on
both feet. To begin try 3 sets of 10 for each leg
(single leg hops), or 3 sets of 20 for the double leg
Although this is not
classified as an actual plyometric exercise it is an
excellent way to train for explosive speed and power
and is a great way to end the workout.
HOW TO: Find a hill of medium incline that takes
5-10 seconds to sprint to the top of. Start with 10
sprints and make sure to leave adequate time in
between sets to recover properly.
The exercises covered in this article represent a tiny
fraction of commonly used plyometric exercises, and is only an introduction to
some useful plyometrics which can help develop explosive power and
acceleration for the sport of ultimate. It is very important to remember that
plyometrics are not exercises that should be done every day or after every
training session. Most experts suggest a rest period of three days between
plyometric workouts. With proper training and adequate rest, plyometrics can
increase vertical jump by 2 to 8 inches and greatly increase your ability to react
quickly and powerfully. Good luck and happy hopping.
Mark Espheter, B.Sci. Kinesiology
Mark has been playing for six years with a myriad of teams on Canadas West
Coast. He has relocated to Calgary, AB and is currently taking his Masters in
Excercise Physiology.
Find a bench or box that creates an angle of
approximately 90( when you place your foot
on top. Using all your power, explode into the
air using the top foot and throw your arms
above your head as if you are bidding on a
high disc. In mid-air switch feet and land with
the other foot atop the bench. Repeat this
motion as quickly and powerfully as possible.
The longer your leg stays on the ground, the
less elastic energy is available from the muscle
tissue so it is very important to move as
quickly as possible. To begin, try 3 sets of 10
for each leg and increase the number as your
training progresses.
An advanced exercise that requires substantial
practice and core strength, this is superb for
developing torsional power and abdominal
/lower back strength. This exercise will add
considerable power to your throws and vastly
improve your ability to imitate a Romanian
Start by standing parallel to a railing or beam
that stands 3 to 3.5 feet off the ground. Place
both hands together and in front of you. Pop
over the obstacle using both feet and swing
your body using your midsection. Concentrate
on keeping your body and arms straight
throughout the action and pop as quickly as
possible to each side. Try sets of 10 to start.

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