Plyometric Drills for Sprinters

Photo Credit: Oxfordian Kissuth CC-BY-SA-3.0
Plyometrics is jumping, bounding, leaping and hopping to improve your muscle strength and increase the spring in your sprinting. It sounds like child’s play, but plyometrics is a serious workout that can improve your sprinting speed and endurance. Plyometrics, also called jump training, stretches your muscles out before contracting them and then exploding upward, forward and outward with great power. You and your coach can design a sports-specific plyometric training workout to help you become a faster sprinter.
Since sprinting requires forward motion horizontal to the ground, horizontal plyometric exercises just make sense. Horizontal jumps help to improve your lower body strength and stride length which equates to faster, more powerful sprinting. You should start to see results in faster sprinting times in about 10 weeks if you do plyometric training twice each week. Bounding is a good example of horizontal plyometric jumps. Bounding is like running using giant leaps forward by pushing off powerfully with your back leg.
You should not begin a plyometric training routine on your own. Your coach or a fitness expert should train you in proper technique. While jumping sounds easy and looks easy, if you don’t land properly, you could injure yourself and be on the sidelines for the rest of the season. The two foot ankle hop is an easy, but effective, plyometric exercise for beginners. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and stand up straight. Leap straight up using only the muscles of your ankles to propel you upward. As soon as you land, immediately leap straight up again. Jumping up onto and then down from a box will strengthen your calf muscles for explosive take-off power. Stand in front of a box about 12 inches high. Squat down a little by bending your knees and slightly hinging your hips. Leap up onto the box and then leap backward off the box.
Low intensity jumps are effective without putting a lot of stress on your joints. Squat jumps will help you develop an explosive take-off. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and lean slightly forward. Bend your elbows and keep them close to your sides. Slowly lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground and then explode upward. Land on both feet and then repeat. Stand beside a box about 12 inches high to do lateral jumps. Lower your body slightly by bending your knees and leaning forward from your hips. Jump up onto the box. Step down and repeat on both sides.
When you are ready, some high intensity plyometrics can take your training to the next level. High intensity jumps can take some practice, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get it right the first few times. Prepare to do the highland swing plyometric exercise by standing up straight with your feet together. Bend your knees slightly and then jump forward as high as you can. Keep your knees bent and swing one leg forward and the other leg backward. Jump again alternating the forward and backward position of your legs as soon as you land on both feet. Get in a lunge position with one leg forward, the other back and your knees bent. Leap up into the air lifting your forward knee as high as possible while simultaneously pushing your back leg farther back. As soon as you land, leap up again. Do about 10 repetitions and then switch your leg position and do 10 more.

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