"Plyometric" is just a fancy way of saying jumping, hopping, bounding or throwing. These are high-intensity exercises where you lengthen your muscle before rapidly contracting it. For throws, this means catching and throwing in a quick and repetitive manner. Over time, these exercises help train your muscles to produce more force when you throw.
One way to understand how plyometrics work is with a rubber band. The more you stretch the band, the farther it goes when you shoot it. An example of a plyometric move is squatting before you jump. The squat lengthens your leg muscles and loads it with your body weight so when you jump, you explode. Plyometric throwing exercises are generally catching and throwing moves with a weighted object such as a medicine ball. Plyometric training is nothing new. This type of training was used by Russian and Eastern European athletes in the mid 1960s. They referred to it as "jump training" and it is believed to have helped those countries dominate weightlifting, gymnastics, and track and field events for years.
Upper body strength, especially strong shoulder muscles, are essential for maximizing distance and power for throwing athletes. To get the most out of plyometric training, pick exercises that best mimic the activity for which you're training. A few examples of plyometric throwing exercises include a catch and throw, overhead throw and side throw. It's best to have a partner for these exercises.
Frequency, Volume and Recovery
Frequency, volume and recovery are essential principles to keep in mind when designing a plyometric throwing program. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” found that a moderate frequency of two days per week with a moderate volume of exercise produced optimal results than low frequency and volume or high frequency and volume. Plyometric exercises should be seen as power training, not cardiovascular conditioning. Start with a low volume of throws and gradually build to a higher volume or more intense exercise. During your workout, take enough time to recover so your muscles can perform each move at the same intensity. This time varies from person to person, but 48 to 72 hours of rest between sessions is best for recovery.
Adding medicine ball exercises to your regular training routine can be beneficial to your throwing power. A 2012 study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” found that female handball players in a 12-week medicine ball training program showed significant improvements in medicine ball throws and shoulder and bench presses over those handball players in the study who only performed their regular training exercises.
- IDEA: Explosive Power
- Journal Strength And Conditioning Research: Effects Of 12-Week Medicine Ball Training On Muscle Strength And Power In Young Female Handball Players
- Journal of Athletic Training: Functional Plyometric Exercises for the Throwing Athlete
- BodyBuilding.Com: Plyometrics: Time to Mix it Up!
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Low and Moderate Plyometric Training Frequency Produces Greater Jumping and Sprinting Gains Compared With High Frequency
- University of Dayton Wellness Program: Plyometrics
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images