Plyometrics train your central nervous system and have been used for years to help train athletes and offer a higher intensity program for fit and healthy individuals. It has been used to treat injuries such as ACL sprains. American College of Sports Medicine states that it is safe to use on fit youth and adolescents when properly designed. However, when done incorrectly, it can lead to more problems than help.
Common mistakes include:
- Forgetting about the basics. Plyometrics should not be done untill the prerequisites are satisfied. This includes proper warm up, how to land properly by keeping the knees in alignment, landing softly, landing from toe to heel from a vertical jump, using the entire foot as a rocker to distribute the impact over a greater surface area, and most importantly, making sure your client has a good leg strength base. Also, plyometrics should not be used as a sole source of strength training, but in conjunction with a complete training program.
- Increasing the volume too fast. Low intensity plyometrics can be done in high volume. Moderate to high intensity plyometrics should be monitored to avoid too much stress on the joints and ligaments. The general guideline is to incorporate 3 exercises, 3-5 reps of proper form. Typically, total volume is measured in a plyometric program by how many times you land, never exceeding 120 ground contacts per week.
- Improper progression. An individual should be able to perform every exercise and repetition with maximum intensity, good form, and body control. Even if a program states that you should perform a certain exercise for a specified number of reps, if your form is not correct, or you are not ready to progress for other reasons, then don’t.
According to the American Council on Exercise, research studies have shown that plyometric training can lead to improvements in:
- Vertical jump performance.
- Leg strength.
- Muscle power.
- Overall agility.
- Bone density (especially in younger participants).
Resources: Exercise Etc.