At Force Barbell, we typically have a pretty standard warm-up for every athlete that walks in the door. All athletes vary at different levels so we might add some or drop things for certain athletes, but for the most part the warm-up is pretty much the same across the board. What I want to go through in this article is the plyometric part of our warm-up we put together for athletes and why we use some of the things we do.
While we consistently drive home the concept that most athletes don’t need or aren’t ready for speed and agility training, we use various plyometric exercises in our warm-ups to accomplish a few things. A few of the first things we are trying to accomplish is proper deceleration movement patterns. Most athletes compete in various field sports that require a lot of deceleration followed by rapid acceleration. When we asses athletes coming through the door we find that most of them could be in a lot better positions when decelerating, “aka” landing from a jump or some sort of cut. Getting them to learn to be in better positions will result in a much less potential for injury and a greater ability to produce and transfer force on the field. Another big thing we are trying to accomplish is the production of speed and power and learning how to create and transfer that through the kinetic chain. Learning to create velocity is very important in almost all sports. We program very basic exercises to try to achieve this at first, and then will work to more dynamic movements as the athletes’ progress. Below are just a few of the exercises we use in the plyometric section of our warm-up for athletes. These will be done after the dynamic stability and mobility section of the warm-up so the athlete is primed and ready to move for higher impact movements.
Level 1 Plyometric Exercises
We use the box jump simply to develop higher rates of force in our athletes. We start the athletes out on smaller boxes making sure they can land in good positions and will progress them to higher boxes based on how quickly they develop.
Broad Jump (landing focus)
We use the broad jump not only to develop some power, but also to enforce good landing positions. Every athlete who walks in the door will do broad jumps with a landing focus to start until they have earned the right to move on to more ballistic movements.
Medicine Ball Chest Pass
We use various forms of medicine ball throws to get athletes to learn how to transfer the force they create with their lower half through the kinetic chain and into an external object. It is easy for many athletes to develop power, but many have difficulty transferring that power through their upper half.
Medicine Ball Slam
The medicine ball slam is another good exercise for athletes to learn how to transfer force and create velocity. This movement also mimics an overhead throw in many ways, which is very beneficial for overhead sport athletes, such as baseball, softball, and volleyball.
While single-leg plyometric work is more dynamic than double-leg we still consider single-leg hops to be in our level I plyometrics because we are trying to accomplish the same thing as we are on our broad jumps. We want the athlete to focus on being in good positions with each landing even if that means he or she has to not jump as high to start. We want to develop proper stability before developing loads of power so the athlete can handle the loads of power later to come and not be prone to injury.
Level 2 Plyometric Exercises
Broad Jump (multiples)
The broad jump multiples are only used once the athlete has demonstrated proper stability and positions in the landing of a single broad jump. Only then will we have the athlete progress to combing multiple broad jumps. If the athlete can’t demonstrate control in multiple broad jumps we will regress them back to proper stability in longer broad jumps before moving them to multiples. We use broad jump multiples to develop more elastic energy in the muscles and tendons and therefore, more power over time.
Medicine Ball Shotput Rotation
The medicine ball shotput is a medicine ball rotational exercise we use to develop power in the transverse plane, “aka” developing power rotationally. We don’t have athletes progress to rotational plyometric movements until they have demonstrated the ability to create power in the frontal and sagitall plane first. The reason for this is because rotational movements have a lot of moving parts to them and are simply more complex for the athlete to do correctly.
The last exercise we will go over today is the lateral bound. This is a very similar movement to the single-leg hop, but we are working on trying to create more power and more of that in the sagitall plane. Because we are trying to create more power from side-to-side the athlete must be able to get into good stable positions in the single-leg hop before progressing to lateral bounds.
Force Barbell is not a speed and agility only training facility, but our goal is to develop athletes to perform at an elite level. We are going to do this any way we can and that means we will program what is necessary for each individual athlete at any given time. We find a lot of success with our athletes if we introduce them to some explosive plyometric movements right away. We make sure we are doing this in a smart way and aren’t throwing anything at the athletes that they can’t handle. We make sure the goal from the beginning is to develop high quality movement and gaining strength through those better movement patterns. We make detailed progressions and regressions with all of our plyometric movements to continue to develop athletes in the best possible manner. This article provides some of the exercises we use, and why and when we use them. It is your job as a coach to make detailed adjustments to your specific athletes and do what is best for them. It is our hope that you can take something from this article to make your athletes better.