Plyometrics is most likely a term you have heard before if you’ve spent any time seriously training. It has shown to be the best way to develop explosive strength and quickness. The concept of Plyometrics was introduced to the world in the early 1980’s by Soviet (Russian) trainers, however was given the name “plyometrics” by Fred Wilt of the United States.
The Soviets wanted to help their athletes excel by developing the quickness and explosive strength to further dominate the Olympic landscape during this time period. Plyometrics is also commonly referred to as “jump training” as it requires many movements involving jumping and leaping using your own body weight.
The magic of plyometrics is found in the eccentric and concentric contractions of the muscles being worked. Before we go any further, lets define what “Eccentric” and “Concentric” mean.
During an eccentric contraction (lengthening contraction), the muscle elongates while under tension due to an opposing force being greater than the force generated by the muscle. Rather than working to pull a joint in the direction of the muscle contraction, the muscle acts to decelerate the joint at the end of a movement or otherwise control the repositioning of a load. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_contraction)
An example of this is when you would jump off a box onto the floor. Your muscles brace you for the landing and help reposition your weight on the ground.
A concentric contraction or shortening contraction is a type of muscle contraction in which the muscles shorten while generating force. This occurs when the force generated by the muscle exceeds the load opposing its contraction. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_contraction)
An example of this would be simple bicep curls. You are shortening the length of your muscles by bringing the weight closer to you.
Plyometrics doesn’t require any kind of high-tech equipment which makes it incredibly easy for anyone to start working this into their workouts. You can accomplish many plyometric exercises at your local track using easy to find items like practice cones and ropes. Once you develop a routine that you enjoy, you can always add some specialized plyometric training aids like plyo boxes, hurdles, and harnesses. A simple Google search will bring up hundreds of sites where you can order these products.
By using plyometrics when training, you will see results when it comes to starts and stops, foot speed, and acceleration when skating. Plyometrics is often overlooked when players are developing a training program whether it is in-season or off. By incorporating a quality plyometrics routine into your program, you will definitely see its worth when comparing yourself to other players who may not be utilizing plyometrics. Do you want your goals bad enough?