Plyometrics for youth soccer coaches

WHAT ARE PLYOMETRICS?

Plyometrics are jumps or combinations of jumps that produce quick, powerful movement using a stretch reflex. A stretch reflex occurs when a muscle lengthens (stretches) and then immediately shortens – the reflex action occurs when the muscle changes from the lengthening to the shortening action. These drills are a specific training mode for soccer because the movements replicate the game’s mixture of vertical and horizontal acceleration against the ground and the triple extension of the ankle, knee, and hip joints.

In plain English, the muscle is stretched (i.e. loaded) before it is contracted. A good example is push-ups with a clap in-between each push-up. The muscles (pectorals in this case) is elongated and loaded by the downward force of the body, then immediately the player must contract the muscle to push themselves back up. Plyometrics are very good for enhancing power, speed, and agility for players.

LOWER BODY PLYOMETRICS

The basis for lower body plyometric drills are an attempt to replicate playing movements, such as jumping, bounding, pushing off and changing direction. The movements are meant to be exaggerated and powered, such as:

• Over sized strides are used in the running action with extra time spent in the air.

• Multiple jumps over a series of obstacles like hurdles of footballs to improve power for sprinting or jumping events.

• Standing based jumps performed on the spot (low intensity) – Tuck Jumps, Split Jumps

• Jumps from standing (low-medium intensity) – Standing long jump, Standing hop, standing jump for height

• Multiple jumps from standing (medium intensity) – bounds, bunny hops, doublefooted jumps over discs, cones or footballs.

TWO JUMPS FORWARDS ONE JUMP BACK

1. Jump forward over two discs on top line, jump back one in the middle channel

2. Jump forward over two discs on bottom line, jump back one in the middle channel

3. Repeat

4. Use soft discs – safety

5. Vary the distance to suit age and fitness of the players

6. Keep both feet together.

7. Aim for height – exaggerate the jumping action.

8. Aim for quality, not speed

9. Keep the head and body pointing forward at all times

10. Pause briefly on the ground between humps

11. Progress to hopping, using the right, then the left leg

OBJECTIVES

1. To improve leg strength

2. To improve mobility

3. Improve bounding and jumping for the ball

4. Develop good balance

5. Improve agility

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