Used incorrectly, Plyometrics can make you slower
Are those plyometrics making you a quicker goalie? Part two
In Part One of this series we talked about where plyometrics land on the hockey training continuum – somewhere after a good foundation of flexibility, stability and strength. In this final installment I am going to let you know the number one mistake coaches and trainers make when using plyometrics. This is such a bad mistake that it can actually make you slower.
The goal of true plyometric training is to increase a goalies explosive power. Plyometrics are exercises in which an athlete rapidly stretches and then forcefully contracts a muscle. This triggers what is called a stretch shortening cycle which results in more power production. A perfect example of a plyometric exercise is a repeated jump. Muscles in the butt and thighs are lengthening as you land the jump and absorb some of the impact and then they are forcefully shortened to initiate the next jump.
In order to build power the movements must be explosive. Moving the body slowly through space will not improve explosiveness. The same way you could lift 2lbs for 300 reps, but it will not help you lift 300lbs twice. Here is where coaches and many trainers get it wrong – they overdose their athletes on power training. They confuse power with conditioning.
Here is an example:
- One trainer has his goalies skate bound side to side for 30 seconds. Then they do squat jumps for 30 seconds.
- The other trainer has his goalies skate bound for 3 reps on each side. Then they do core planks for 30 seconds, and then they do 6 squat jumps.
Which group is training power? If you said the second group, you are correct – the first group is doing conditioning. Instead of doing sprints, the coach is using these plyometric exercises to develop the players’ energy system. Personally, I would add in a little more variety and recovery rather than putting two plyometric exercises back to back like this, but the point I want to make is that a coach can include a plyometric exercise for a longer duration as an element of a conditioning workout. But the trainer needs to know that they are not increasing the goalie’s capacity for pure power production.
The second group, even though they are not doubled over with fatigue and grimacing all over the place is actually the group that is improving their power production. You don’t ever see a 100m sprinter out running 400m repeats do you? Absolutely not, because a sprinter is only concerned with power production.
So if your trainer is trying to build pure power these plyometric drills should last 5-10 seconds and have 60-90 seconds of rest between sets. Hope this helps you better understand the difference between power training and conditioning and how plyometrics can be used effectively to improve your quickness.