What is Plyometrics?
The history of plyometrics dates back to the 60's when Russia & eastern bloc countries used new & unique training techniques on their Olympic athletes. As we look at records of those athletes, they dominated certain sports during this era. Their training consisted of different styles of jumps, foot speed drills, training equipment, stretching, and weight training exercises that when combined a structured curriculum & progressions resulted in increased speed & power in the athlete.
Today, the goal of plyometrics is to enhance the explosive reaction of the individual through powerful muscular contractions as a result of rapid eccentric contractions. This is accomplished through various techniques. The first is to develop the hip flexure muscles, its physiological function is to lift the leg. This maximizes the frequency of the turn over cycle of the leg during running stride. The result is a faster, quicker athlete with increased explosive power, reaction speed, lateral & multi change of direction speed, coordination, balance, development of the stabilizer muscles in the ankle, knee hip & shoulder joint, energy transferred to the movement & injury prevention. Core training is vital, the “Center of gravity” for athletic development. Core training is the strengthening, developing, and training of the mid-section area of the body - the abdominal muscles, oblique & lower back playing a key role in the overall athleticism of the athlete.
One of the first coaches in the United States to utilize the knowledge & training techniques of plyometrics and incorporate it into his training regimen was Tom Landry, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in the 70's & 80's. The Dallas Cowboys dominated the NFL during this era. Since then, other professional sport organizations, Olympic athletes, and major D-1 universities added this training system to their program. Plyometrics is an evolving science as we continue to see athletes reach new heights & set new records.
Until recently, plyometrics has been utilized only at those levels - collegiate, Olympic, and professional sports. Just now finding its way into the middle & high school athletic programs. SPEED has become the number 1 factor for college and professional recruits & scouts, replacing brute strength. They are asking "What is your time in the 40?", not, "What is your max in the bench press?”
Plyometrics has become so important that if an athlete is not involved in this type of training, he will fall behind his peers. Athletes are now being chosen by colleges because of their speed, agility, and strength due to their exposure to this unique style of training. Sports Illustrated article, this is "The Future of the Next Generation of Athletic Training."