Here is a good plyometric workout you can do on the field.
Plyometric drills are often misused and misunderstood by today’s athletes. I get the feeling from most of my players seem to be under the impression that exercises that do not “fatigue” or “exhaust” you, are not very beneficial. They seem to think that if their legs are not weak and wobbly as they get into their cars to leave practice, they’re not working hard enough. And, although there is a time and place for exhaustive exercise and conditioning protocols, plyometric training does not work that way.
Plyometric exercise enhances speed and power by exploiting the reflex processes in the muscles to produce a more powerful contraction. If you attempt to do these exercises too “slowly”, or you do too many reps and start to fatigue, you do not get to take advantage of these reflex processes. The goal of plyometric exercise is twofold:
- Decrease Ground Contact Time (GCT) to less than .2 seconds (2 tenths of a second)
- Increase the Rate of Force Production (RFP) or quickly produce maximum force
Trying to do plyos in a fatigued state and still achieve these two goals is futile at best. The following is a basic plyometric progression that can be used for athletes at almost any level. And although we follow a much more detailed progression that includes 4 different types of plyometrics, working our way up to weighted depth jumps, this progression will work great on the field.
- Rapid Response Footwork – Stand in an athletic stance and chop the feet as quickly as possible for 5 seconds. Try to keep the feet as close to the ground as possible the entire time. This will almost look like the feet are vibrating. – Progress this by having them move side to side and forward and back as they do this drill. Remember to get the feet off the ground as quick as possible, and then right back down.
- Quick Squats – From a standing position, quickly squat down to a quarter squat position, and then without pausing (using the reflex of the quick stop) come back up as quickly as possible. – Progress this by jumping out of the quick drop (sometimes called a countermovement). You can also do this from a lunge position, leaning over the front leg and progressing to split squats. After awhile you can start moving forward and lateral with the jump squats and split squats.
- Single Leg Lateral Jumps – From a balanced stance, quickly jump back and forth (about the width of the ball – you can even do this next to a ball for a reference guide) trying to land in the same spot each time. – Progress this by having the players do this forward and back, in square patterns, and laterally down a line (jumping right about 12 inches and back to the left about 6 inches then right 12 inches, and so on down the line).
- Single Leg Quarter Turn Jumps – From a balanced stance, quickly load (countermovement) and jump up as high as possible. While in the air turn exactly 90 degrees and land, balanced and stable. Then jump up and turn back the other direction. You can progress this to making the 90 degree turn and jumping quickly out of the landing. This teaches the player to control themselves in the air, quickly react to the ground and produce as much power as possible (Decreasing GCT and Increasing RFP).
This is the a basic progression that will prove to be challenging for the athletes while still establishing a base and leaving room for progression as they get better. The most important part of this program is to make sure they control their bodies, position stress away from the knee (use hips), and try to produce as much power as quickly as possible. Keep the reps fairly low, or use a set period of time (5 to 10 seconds per set), and try to get them to put maximal effort into a small amount of time.
Scott Moody acts as the director of the SoccerFIT Academy in Overland Park, KS and has spent the last 10 years developing a curriculum that bridges the gap between the physical and the technical developmental aspects of soccer. His website, www.soccerfitacademy.com is designed to be an educational site that promotes discussion, offers ideas and breaks down current trends in research and training to offer suggestions as to how it can be applied to youth player development. Scott also is a featured speaker, author and research fellow for numerous organizations, equipment manufacturers and online training magazines.