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Plyometrics are quick, explosive exercises that utilize a countermovement, or stretch, to increase the power of subsequent movements. Plyos have consistently shown to improve muscle force and power production when used correctly. Plyos employ the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), which consists of a preloading, transition, and concentric phase. The preloading phase is essentially the stretch; the muscle is stretched, storing energy in the elastic part of the muscle. During the transition phase, there is a pause between the preloading and eccentric phase. This phase is quick and has no movement; the transition phase is the most important for power production and should be kept as short as possible. The concentric phase uses the stored energy from the preloading phase to create the explosive power of the following movement. The purpose of plyos is to train the muscles to produce maximum force and power in a short amount of time. Plyometric training is crucial in power and speed development. Examples of plyometric exercises include jumps, bounds, hops, box drills and depth jumps.


Linear speed is the development of speed in a forward, straight-line path - think sprinting. The basis of linear speed training is to improve speed and endurance by training stride length and frequency. The interaction of stride length and frequency is what determines running speed. Developing effective stride length is most important in improving running speed; however, stride length is hardest to train as it varies based on each individual’s height and leg length. The improvement in linear speed comes with the understanding of proper running technique and the ability to produce explosive power with each foot strike. Training linear speed also takes into account training for speed-endurance, which is “the ability to maintain maximum movement velocities, or repeatedly achieve maximal accelerations and velocities.” (Baechle & Earle, 2008). Examples of exercises developing linear speed include sled-pulls, weighted vest sprints, or running uphill.


Lateral speed is the development of speed in the left-right plane, and the ability to explosively change directions, velocity, or mode. The training of lateral speed consists of training several aspects of an athletes overall coordination and maneuverability. These components include the ability to modify action sequences based on changing situations, balance, coordination of various body movements, accurate and efficient body adjustments, spatial and temporal control of body movements, quick responses to stimuli, and implementation of dynamic motion patterns. The importance of lateral speed lies in the athletes’ need to successfully and efficiently transition from one mode of locomotion to another, from running forward to running laterally, for example. Proper starting and stopping technique are crucial aspects of locomotion – most noncontact sport injuries occur while stopping or changing direction. Additionally, an athletes’ coordination is vital in a real-life game situation in which locomotive patterns are constantly changing, simultaneously with the manipulation of an object (a ball or stick) and the implementation of complex strategies. Examples of exercises to develop lateral speed and agility include cone drills, pro-agilities, and ladder drills.


Reaction is the response to stimuli. Also known as reactiveness, the response should be quick, and well directed. Coordination, rhythm, and focus are all important aspects that contribute to reaction time. The ability of an athlete to coordinate various bodily movements in response to a stimulus is determinant of reactionary success. Rhythm requires observation and execution of dynamic body patterns, timing and variation. The ability of an athlete to observe the situation the properly and efficiently execute a change in body movement patterns, timing and variation is critical in reaction training. Finally, visual focus is important in reaction not only for “keeping an eye on the ball” but also for maintaining balance when performing complicated footwork or quick redirections. A loss of visual focus can cause a loss of balance or inefficient movements and ultimately a loss of time or missed opportunity. Training reaction is a crucial component of success in all aspects athletics to ensure timely response to stimuli. Reaction comes down to how fast you can get off the blocks, if you catch that ball, the difference between a home run and a strike.


Training the body’s energy system is one of the most crucial aspects of training for performance. The body’s energy systems determine how well the body processes, receives and utilizes energy sources. An effective training program is designed around the understanding of how energy is made available to the body. The body’s main source of energy comes from the breakdown of carbohydrate. How well the body uses the fuel determines how successful the workout will be. Through training, it is possible to fine-tune the body’s use of fuel allowing for better use of oxygen, delayed onset of fatigue, and faster recovery time. Training the energy systems includes not only physical training, but also an understanding of how different food and nutrients impact how well the body functions. Without adequate fuel, the body cannot function; just like without enough gas, a car can’t run, the body cannot perform to its top potential without proper nutrients.


Resistance training is the application of external load to elicit a specific training effect. A load is applied to increase muscle size, to increase neural recruitment and efficiency, or to increase joint speed. The type of resistance training is determined by the athletes’ ultimate goal, and often differs between athletes and sports. Various considerations go into building a resistance program including athlete’s fitness and training levels, time commitment, rest periods, and goals of the program. The goals of resistance training are typically hypertrophy (muscle growth), muscular endurance, strength, or power. Examples of resistance training exercises include squats, cleans, bench press, and dumbbell exercises.


The core consists of all the muscles of the abdomen and back. Core training is vital, not only for athletics but for the maintenance of general health, and performance of common tasks. Strengthening the muscles of the core help to provide stability for the body, as well as improve posture, and provide support and protection for internal organs. A strong core not only benefits general body movements, but also helps athletes to lift more, move faster, fell better and most importantly, protect against injuries. A strong core benefits all aspects of training: agility, speed, strength, and power all have their foundations in a strong core. Examples of core training exercises include planks, obliques, bridges, and variations on the “crunch”.


Flexibility is the measure of the range of motion (ROM) of a joint. When we think of flexibility, we often think of stretching. There are two types of stretching: dynamic and static. Static stretching is the type most people are familiar with – reach until you feel a pinch then hold, and repeat. Dynamic stretching uses sport-specific movements to get the body ready to perform. An advantage to dynamic stretching is the ability to replicate similar joint movements as those that are performed in the sport. Also, dynamic stretching allows for the body’s temperature to elevate or stay elevated, indicating a good warm-up. There is more to flexibility than just being able to touch your toes. Each sport has different flexibility requirements, which are related to the movements particular to that sport. Various factors affect flexibility including joint structure, age and sex, connective tissue, resistance training with limited ROM, muscle bulk, and activity level. Flexibility is important in athletes for injury prevention; however, it is important to note that being too flexible (hyperflexibility) and inflexibility can also result in higher risk of injury. It is important to train for a balance in muscle flexibility to help reduce the risk of injury.

   Source: “Essentials of Strength and Conditioning,” Baechle & Earle, 2008.

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