As a young trainer, one of the most confusing exercises to accurately prescribe and to progress was jumping and plyometrics. The options were endless. There was box jumps, broad jumps, bounding, lunge jumps, drop jumps, depth jumps, hops, skipping, loaded jumps, squat jumps, tuck jumps, rebound jumps and the list goes on. The knowing when what and why of these exercises can derail most trainers and I have seen many trainers (including myself) complete butchering there plyometric program and probably doing more harm to here athletes than good.
I think before you consider implementing these type of exercises in your program, it’s vitally important that you have a little understanding of what they are, what’s the difference between jumping and plyo’s and where do they fit into a rugby players program. If you are not sure of these I suggest you go read an article I have recently written on Plyometrics for rugby on rugby renegade blog. There is a bit more physiology and theory behind these exercises.
In this article, I will focus mainly on the progression of these exercises in your program.
One thing we must remember is that rugby players are NOT JUMP SPECIALIST. Our programming does not have to be the same as jump dominant sports like basketball, netball or volleyball. Besides the line out and jumping to retrieve a high ball, there is no specialist jumping required in rugby and all plyo’s and jumping is to develop abilities that underpin performance, not express it.
This basically means it the stimulus that we are after. The stimulus will lead to adaptation and will lead to an increase in performance quality like sprinting or change of direction. The challenge is that once the body has adapted to a stimulus, we have to get more specific with the stimuli so the body can adapt to it again. The process of moving from a general stimulus to a specific one is called progression and is required for any athletic performance program.
The problem is we skip steps and give the body a too strong stimulus for the adaptation it requires. Think of it this way. If you have a headache, drinking a panado will be sufficient “stimulus” to solve the problem. If we, however, drink something far stronger like myprodol, that will be a too strong “stimulus” for the problem we want to solve. Even though it will work, pretty soon the body will adapt to it and a weaker medication like panado will no longer do the trick. I’m no medical expert but if you have to drink strong pain killers every time you have a headache, you are in trouble and the body will pretty soon start breaking down. This is the same with training, never use a stimulus that is greater than required to get the necessary training effect.
So what is the point I’m trying to make? Basically when it comes to stimulating the CNS in while triple extension the lower body like in jumps training, don’t just jump to the most intense version of the exercise. A drop jump over hurdle might look very sexy, but in reality, a simple box jump might have done the trick. Like any good GP, S&C coaches should prescribe training that fits the requirement of the athlete.
A couple of weeks ago I came across some of Lachlan Wilmot work and how he prescribes plyometrics within the team sport setting. This has been one of the most useful breakdowns of plyometric and the progression of it I have seen yet.
One must always start a program with the ending in mind and when it comes to plyometrics for rugby there are basically three outcomes we have to look at:
- Improving acceleration, this is done by developing horizontal jump ability
- Improving maximal velocity by improving vertical jump ability
- Improving change of direction ability through the lateral jump ability
Lachlan made use of three different strategies to define his exercises and how he would progress them based on the need of the player.
Firstly he made use of a five-stage progression to use in developing plyometric progression.
- Stage 1: Eccentric absorption
- Stage 2: Concentric development
- Stage 3: Jump integration
- Sateg 4: Continues jumping
- Stage 5: Shock method
Secondly, he explains his plyometric funnel, and how he uses it to build a plyometric exercise based on what outcome is needed for the athlete. This funnel consist of four parts namely:
- Vector or direction of the jump
- Movement category (double leg, single leg, one leg to the other)
- Description, what action is taking place to produce force?
- Modalities or constraint that is placed on the movement
Thirdly he classifies plyometric according to their intensity within the funnel and how one should progress through them.
- Vectore conituum
- Movement continuum
- Description continuum
In Part 2 of this article, I will go through these three strategies and look at how one can progress a plyometric program based on movement requirements and intensity of the jump.