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Training for speed and power in sport and fitness
Training for speed and power in sport and fitness

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3.2 Developing power: plyometric training

An image of a person jumping onto a wooden box
Figure 6

Various studies have found plyometric training to be effective in developing power and improving performance (Stojanović et al., 2017). A wide range of plyometric exercises may be employed to develop power. Potach and Chu (2016) divide these into lower-body, upper-body and trunk exercises. The choice of exercises should depend on various factors, including the unique requirements of the individual (needs analysis), their age and fitness levels. You will consider some examples of plyometric exercises in Activity 5.

Activity 5 Plyometric training in action

Timing: Allow 30 minutes for this activity

Watch Video 5, in which a range of plyometric exercises are demonstrated. Then select one exercise that you think would be most appropriate to use with a 200m sprinter and explain why you selected this particular exercise.

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Video 5 Plyometric exercises
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You probably chose your exercise by applying the principle of specificity. In other words, you probably tried to select an exercise that would be relevant to a 200m sprinter. Any of the lower body plyometric exercises with similar movement patterns (i.e. in a sagittal plane), or that work the muscle groups that a 200m sprinter needs to develop (i.e. quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius) in order to improve her sprint performance would be beneficial.

Plyometric training provides an effective way to develop functional power and enables the strength and conditioning coach to prescribe functional exercises for the athlete which are specific to that athlete’s sport. In the early training of plyometrics, developing proper technique and balance must be prioritised to minimise the injury risk of the high intensity exercise. In the next section you will look at another method of developing power: weight training.