Plyometric training is one of the most effective training methods for improving sprinting, jumping and change of direction performance in team-sport athletes. Each of these physical performance qualities utilize the stretch-shortening cycle to harness the elastic properties of muscle and tendon. The neuromuscular adaptation that take place in response to plyometric training enable athletes to more rapidly absorb and express force, thereby facilitating quicker and more efficient movement. While few coaches would argue the performance-enhancing effects of plyometric training, there does remain some debate and uncertainly regarding plyometric training volume for stimulating on-field performance markers. Higher volume lower-body plyometric training increases foot contacts, which may be undesirable for athletes who are in-season and are already experience high loads. Thus, lower volume programs are preferred but may not be sufficient for inducing performance improvements.
A new study published ahead of print in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance compared the effects of low versus high volume plyometric training in adolescent soccer players. Twenty-five pre-pubertal male soccer players were divided into a low volume (n=13) and high volume (n=12) plyometric training group. Both groups performed plyometric training sessions twice per week with one session emphasizing vertical reactive ability and the other session emphasizing horizontal reactive ability. The training program took place over 8 weeks during the in-season. The high volume group performed roughly double the amount of foot contacts as the low volume group at each session. The low volume group progressed from 50 – 120 foot contacts and the high volume group progressed from 100 – 220 foot contacts. Before and after the training intervention, all athletes were tested in the 30 m sprint test, change of direction test (T-test), squat-jump and countermovement-jump and broad jump.
The results showed that there was no significant group by time interaction. This means that there was no statistical difference in how either groups responded to the training program. Both groups significantly and similarly improved their performances in each of the performance tests. Percent improvements ranged from ~2.5 to 17% for both groups with the largest improvements occurring in the countermovement and squat-jumps. Ultimately, this study showed that performing double the amount of foot contacts in training did not lead to any superior performance improvements in adolescent soccer players. Therefore, to conserve precious training time and to limit the number of impacts on the athlete’s joints, coaches should consider a lower volume approach with their plyometric training.
Chaabene, H., & Negra, Y. (2017). The Effect of Plyometric Training Volume in Prepubertal Male Soccer Players’ Athletic Performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 1-22.