The Purpose of Plyometric Drills for the Soccer Athlete - Part 1

An athlete utilizes plyometric exercises to train muscles to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible, or simply put, uses plyometrics to develop explosive power. Plyometrics involve techniques and training programs for optimizing the use of the stretch-shortening cycle, which are important for developing superior performance in athletics. During the stretch-shortening cycle, energy is stored during the lengthening phase of a muscle contraction, and whatever is not lost through heat generation, is used during the following shortening phase of a muscle contraction. The main purpose for using plyometric exercises is to train the body for minimizing the time between the lengthening phase and the shortening phase of muscle contractions, which will decrease the potential loss of available energy. This will enable athletes to perform a more explosive movement. For the soccer athlete, lower body plyometric exercises are utilized to develop quick feet movement, and the ability to quickly get off the ground. Lower body plyometric exercises include jumps-in-place, standing jumps, multiple hops & jumps, bounding, box drills, and depth jumps. For the soccer athlete, medicine ball overhead throws is a great upper body plyometric exercise to help increase the explosiveness of overhead throw-ins that are made during the game. Next month's tip will focus on considerations for program design of plyometric training.