Plyometrics are probably the most popular exercise among athletes and trainers who are looking to improve vertical jump.
They are uniquely simple exercises and usually do not require equipment.
It would be hard to find a successful vertical jump trainer who does not use plyometric training. There is simply nothing like it.
Ask any basketball player who has ever trained to increase their vertical and succeeded. Nine times out of ten they increased their vertical using plyometric exercises.
Origins – The term plyometrics come from an American track and field coach named Fred Wilt. It is based on Latin with “plyo” and “metrics” meaning “measurable increases”. The original plyometrics was basically just two types of jumps: depth jumps and shock jumps.
Depth jumps are stepping or jumping off of a raised bench or platform and jumping as high as possible after landing. Shock jumps involve stepping or jumping off of a raised surface as well, but you jump from much higher than depth jumps. Instead of jumping up when you land, you bend your knees and absorb the impact.
As plyometrics became more popular, people started adding more and more similar exercises to the list and calling them plyometrics.
Purpose – Plyometrics are exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short of a time as possible. The combination of speed and maximum strength is referred to as power.
Power = Speed x Strength
Power is needed to perform almost every movement and skill in sports. It is the ability to perform maximum strength rapidly. Power is the key in plyometrics training. It is what helps you jump high. Without power in your legs, you would never be able to jump high for basketball.
Plyometrics revolve around jumping and then quickly pushing off. Plyometric exercises focus on two aspects of speed strength: foundation strength and explosive strength.
Foundation strength is the ability to have as many muscle fibers as possible work for you in an instant. Explosive strength is the ability to keep a motion going against opposing forces.
Both speed strengths are used in jumping. When you bend down and start to push off to jump you are using foundation strength because your muscle fibers are instantly working for you to jump. As you push into the air you are using explosive strength because you were able to transfer the foundation strength into motion by jumping against the force of gravity.
Reactive strength is a big part of plyometric exercises. Reactive strength is basically “spring-loaded” strength. It requires one movement followed instantly by another. Transitioning from one movement to another instantly adds extra force to the second movement.
Reactive strength can be used in a lot of activities. But, if you hear the term plyometric activities do not confuse it with plyometric training. Plyometric activities are things like walking, where plyometric training is intense drills and exercises.
A key to plyometric trainings effectiveness is reducing the amount of time that you are on the ground while training. The time between when you are on the ground and able to jump up again is referred to as the “amortization” phase. Plyometrics are great for reducing the amount of time you spend in the “amortization” phase.
Plyometrics training exercises have many benefits. Here is a list of just some of them:
- Develop explosive power
- Teach nervous system to react quickly and forcefully with muscles
- Increased muscle speed
- And much more
Other training tips – Everyone’s body is different, which is why everyone should have a different plyometric training program. You should determine what aspect of your vertical needs the most work, and execute drills and exercises designed specifically for improving the muscles involved with that aspect.
Your nervous system is just as important as your physical strength in plyometrics. Plyometrics are basically a combination of reflexes and muscle movement to jump higher.
Before every workout it is extremely crucial that you warm-up, and after every workout it is extremely crucial that you cool-down. Warm-ups are important because they develop movement skills and warm up your muscles to really work during the plyometric training exercises. Cool-downs are important to help your muscles relax and reduce soreness for later. It also helps to keep your legs trained in the motions used in plyometrics.
While most plyometric drills do not require equipment, there is always different equipment that you can use to make drills easier or harder to perform. Here is a list of some equipment that can be very helpful for you to use:
Cones – Cones are a great way to mark a goal for a certain distance you that want to go. They can also be used as obstacles that you have to move around, enhancing the exercise.
Plyo Boxes – Plyo boxes are sturdy boxes that are as low a six inches and as high as thirty inches. Plyo boxes are great because they are sturdy enough to hold your weight and can be used in any exercise where you need an elevated surface.
Body Weights – Body weights are any type of equipment that you can wear to increase the weight that you have to carry when exercising. You can use a body vest, which will add extra weight to toughen a jumping exercise. Ankle weights are also great for jumping exercises.
Whatever you use the body weights for, make sure that you do not use too much weight because you might get hurt.
If executed correctly, plyometric exercises can be a vertical jump trainer’s best friend. Make sure you do not overwork yourself, but also do not under-work. If you really want to jump higher, then you should commit yourself to doing plyometric exercises and developing a routine of your own.
The ebook Jump Manual is a great book that provides an in-depth explanation of plyometric training for basketball.
The book’s author is a professional basketball trainer and has worked with plyometrics for years. He has helped athletes around the world increase their verticals exponentially. He has also trained Olympic and NBA basketball players.
If you really want to increase your vertical using plyometrics then Jump Manual is one of the best training guides you can refer.