Cor­rect use of ply­o­met­ric ex­er­cises

MANY ATH­LETES USE PLY­O­MET­RIC EX­ER­CISES BUT ARE THEY BE­ING COACHED COR­RECTLY AND DO THE AC­TIV­I­TIES RE­LATE TO THE NEEDS OF THEIR EVENT?

Athletics Weekly - - News - WORDS: JOHN SHEP­HERD

AS COACHES we can of­ten just let our ath­letes get on with ply­o­met­rics, think­ing they will do them prop­erly. But turn your back and you’ll of­ten find them chat­ting and not do­ing the ex­er­cises in a way that will re­ally ben­e­fit per­for­mance. Here’s a check-list to utilise when “coach­ing” plyos.

1. Make sure the ath­lete knows what the ex­er­cise is. So many times I’ve said sin­gle leg and they do dou­ble leg jumps. (Per­haps they don’t lis­ten!). De­gree of knee bend is an­other cru­cial point – of which more be­low.

2. Fo­cus on the de­gree of knee bend.

In­vari­ably this should be min­i­mal and there should not be un­due prepa­ra­tion for the ground con­tact. We want the ath­lete to re­act to the con­tact and not de­lay and then re­act to power up and for­wards, for ex­am­ple (this way the ply­o­met­ric stretch/ re­flex is op­ti­mised).

3. In­vari­ably an­kles should be stiff on con­tact with the ground.

They should then be pulled up to fa­cil­i­tate the re­ac­tion and cre­ate greater stiff­ness (known as pre-ten­sion).

4. The arms should aid tran­si­tion/tran­si­tions.

The ac­tion may need to be coached and var­ied in re­la­tion to the specifics of the event. That is, sin­gle arm for long jump and dou­ble arm for high jump/ triple jump.

5. Mix up ply­o­met­rics.

Do sin­gle, dou­ble and mul­ti­ple ground con­tact com­bi­na­tions – but re­ally think which type will ben­e­fit the ath­lete in terms of the specifics of their event.

6. The ath­letes must be in the zone.

They should “want to move quickly and pow­er­fully” – fail­ure to be in this frame of mind will re­sult in sub­max­i­mal per­for­mance and there­fore much re­duced event trans­fer­ence.

7. Em­pha­sise speed of move­ment.

Specif­i­cally the stretch/re­flex over height or dis­tance gained. 8. Don’t give all ath­letes the same ex­er­cises.

Think which may be more ben­e­fi­cial to some and not to oth­ers. Long jumpers, for ex­am­ple, may not ben­e­fit as di­rectly from mul­ti­ple bounds com­pared to a triple jumper, while a sprinter may ben­e­fit from speed bounds per­formed from stand­ing. A high jumper would ben­e­fit from more jumps with a ver­ti­cal dis­place­ment.

Con­sider that take-off and run­ning drills are very much ply­o­met­ric ex­er­cises, so con­sider the above points too when coach­ing/mon­i­tor­ing these ac­tiv­i­ties.

Tip: use sin­gle and dou­ble foot near straight leg ply­o­met­ric drills (par­tial hops and bounds) which em­pha­sise the nat­u­ral elas­tic “bounce” of the legs. These ex­er­cises trans­fer power and leg stiff­ness nicely into run­ning and jump­ing and other ply­o­met­rics where greater knee bend is re­quired. In­struct the ath­lete to “bounce” on stiff legs.

Spring into coach­ing

Eng­land Ath­let­ics are run­ning a num­ber of coach­ing cour­ses this month, for ex­am­ple, coach­ing as­sis­tant (£185/£245) and ath­let­ics coach (£270/£435). For de­tails of these and oth­ers, see eng­lan­dath­let­ics.org/coach­ing

Make sure the con­tacts are as ex­plo­sive as pos­si­ble

Make sure the ath­lete is in the zone when do­ing plyos

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