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LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning

Speed development - plyometrics

More is not always better

De Villarreal et al (2008) showed in their study the lack of positive adaptation as a result of completing a high frequency and thus volume of plyometric training. In this particular study subjects completed only the plyometric training and did not partake in other training or sporting activities. The authors noted that training 4 times a week does not confer any benefits over training on two occasions a week for adults.

The authors studied the effectiveness of training for one day a week, or two or four days a week. The subjects in this study were volunteer students. Nevertheless, their findings are of interest as they show that engaging in a high frequency of plyometric training (4 times a week) which also includes a very high volume of overall plyometric work does not confer an advantage. It can be argued that such high volume training will expose individuals to potential injury.

The conclusion of the authors was that a moderate volume is more effective than a higher plyometric training volume in improving jump height, sprint performance and strength performance.

Is there a need for well developed back squat strength before engaging in plyometrics?

Various authors have highlighted the requirement that an athlete be able to back squat at least 1.5 times their body weight before engaging in lower body plyometric training (Bompa 1999, 2000; Baechle and Earle 2000, NSCA 1993). Also the requirement has been noted for a body weight bench press criterion as a prerequisite for performing upper body plyometrics (Baechle and Earle 2000). However, these general strength requirement guidelines do not appear to agree with the evidence from the controlled studies that have shown even untrained individuals (from children through to adults) can effectively benefit from plyometrics without a previous high level of strength training. Thus the body weight squat pre-requisite guidelines do not take into account the fact that children and beginners can safely complete low and moderate or medium impact plyometric type exercises and drills without any greater risk of injury than would normally be attached to physical activity.

Figure 5. A player requires well developed strength to participate safely and effectively in sport. However, is 1.5 to 2 times body weight in a back squat essential before engaging in plyometrics?

Should injuries occur during plyometric training it is very likely that they occur as a result of poor landing mechanics, unsuitable training surfaces and selecting exercises that are too advanced and thus both technically too challenging and also may expose players to too great a training load, for example such as drop jumps from too great a height (Fleck and Kraemer 2004). Landing mechanics coupled with a suitable shock absorbent rubber mat or suspended floor also may help to facilitate a softer landing and thus make drop jumping exercises more tolerable. Note, however, that ultimately for the high performance player, high impact landings are part and parcel of a progressive and ultimately high performance programme.

So to sum up, it does not seem that a pre-requisite 1.5 times body weight in back squat is required for benefitting from plyometrics. The studies simply do not reflect the need to have this level of back squat strength before benefitting from plyometric training (de Villarreal et al 2008, 2009). However, we must caution the coach that it is essential to ensure proper mechanics and alignment when engaging in plyometrics. Guidelines as previously described will direct the coach in deciding the tolerable loads and volumes that are effective in inducing gains.