Plyometrics: some moves can be crazy hard and some rudimentary. Simply put, “plyometrics” is getting your body to react to the ground. This is why, for a basic jump, we want to emphasize an efficient landing. We have multiple speed hurdles in a line, spaced approximately 2-3 feet apart. Our body position should start with feet shoulder width apart, arms directly out in front, standing tall. From here, we want to load the body position with speed and power. Throw the arms down hard and fast while sitting back into the hips. Throwing the arms helps propel our body while loading the hips allows us to drive with the glutes and hamstrings, going up and over the hurdle.
Now, just as in gymnastics, it’s all about the landing (right?). We want to land soft. The more ninja, the better. The hips should be positioned similarly to the way we loaded the jump, arms should be tucked, and weight will be in the balls of the feet. The way we land coordinates to the way we jump. So if we put a lot of power into driving our legs up, we are going to need a lot of power to properly absorb the landing. Why so much about the landing? To reduce the potential injuries that can happen in our everyday lives. By repetitiously performing these jumps with efficient landings, we are training our muscles how to react. Have your feet ever had a disagreement with a sheet of ice? Or, if you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate, maybe you have had to dart through some of those tropical storms. When we have to catch ourselves in an instant, our body will react the only way it knows how. Focusing on an efficient landing is what trains our muscles to react efficiently. Without this training, it is our ligaments, tendons, and face that will pay the price with injury.
Hurdles may be too high for some of us to jump over, making rings or floor dots more appropriate. Instead of height, there is more precision involved. The movement is just the same as with the hurdles. Another movement of similar purpose is called a “hold”, where the feet are shuffled through each ring to one side, and then the next. Start at the first ring. Use quick feet and be on the balls of your feet for the shuffle. The left foot is placed in first and as the right foot touches down, the left should be planting itself to the left on the outside of the ring. We are catching ourselves, balancing, and holding, only on the left foot. Then the process repeats to the right side, through the next ring. Just as with the jump landings, we are training our muscles how to react to the ground.
Each move requires us to decelerate our body when we come into contact with the ground. Training our muscles to react this way is what will make us strong enough to absorb force, and do it efficiently, without injury. By working on the deceleration, our acceleration also benefits. So whether you want to prevent injury or beat your kid at hoops, these plyo moves will help.