5.3: Plyometric & Jump Training

Parisi classes integrate a wide range of jump drills. The multidirectional speed classes often feature a jump focused curriculum. Whether it is a group of Jump Starters or Total Sports Performance athletes, jump training and multidirectional speed drills coexist within the same class category. Parisi coaches can include a focus on jump training as an area of emphasis when organizing their multidirectional speed class curriculums for the week.

Classes that feature mostly jump drills and applications are centered on improving an athlete’s ability to apply force into the ground. This is no different for classes that focus on linear and multidirectional speed. Force application is a fully integrated goal through each quarter of a Parisi class. Some jump focused classes will include strength training, as strength is a key component to improving an athlete’s ability to jump higher and further. But all jump focused classes will include movement mechanics that build an athlete’s ability to properly land. Landing positions like deceleration, are part of the Parisi program’s 5 keys to success. Whether it is a two-foot or one-foot take off, every kind of jump contains three key muscle actions: eccentric, isometric and concentric phases.

Eccentric Phase

The first is the eccentric or loading phase. This is when the athlete quickly bends at the hips, knees and ankles. This biomechanical action is also tied to an athlete’s ability to control and manage their center of gravity. Both of these are critical during the loading phase of a jump and important when landing to avoid injuries. Parisi coaches should keep in mind that athletes rarely get injured in the air, but rather when they return to the ground. This is why eccentric strength training is part of the Parisi strategy for mitigating injuries. Many of the eccentric drills like: sprints to a position of deceleration, diver load variations and even low depth jumps are featured in Parisi classes. All of which prepare an athlete for this phase.

The eccentric phase is similar to compressing a spring. This occurs right before the athlete applies massive force into the ground to displace their body towards their desired movement. This phase is another great example of Newton’s third law, the action-reaction law. As the athlete is moving through triple flexion to apply force into the ground, the ground is applying force back into the body of the athlete.

Isometric or Amortization Phase

The next phase is the amortization phase. The muscles go from an isometric contraction and transitions very quickly to release the stored energy that occurred during the eccentric phase or triple flexion. During the amortization phase the athlete must accelerate to get off the ground. The biggest obstacle an athlete faces during this phase are energy leaks which inhibit their ability to maximize the ground reaction force produced. Mechanical drills like the diver load series, slower tempo squats and even banded jumps are often used to improve this phase in quarter 2 and/or 3 during class. Also, a skilled coach must have a keen eye and be aware that athletes are not spending too little time on the ground. If the amortization phase is too rushed, then the bio-motor elastic qualities we desire are not able to be put on proper stretch to help create this added free elastic energy. In other words, you must properly load the spring to get the power benefit from it. As a coach gets more experienced they will notice how their athletes are loading and responding off the ground. Remember, every session, every exercise, every drill and every set is a movement screen for the coach to evaluate. The more you watch your athletes with serious intent, the more you will learn about how to coach and enhance their bio-motor qualities.

Concentric Phase

The concentric phase is often characterized as the jump itself. The vertical and/or horizontal velocity is seen in triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles. This is when the athlete is in the air. During a concentric phase the muscles fire and the athletes explode from the ground overcoming gravity. Concentric strength is accomplished in a wide variety of strength training exercises. Both hip hinges like deadlifts and weighted squats are reliable exercises for developing the strength required during this phase.

While these are not the only strength exercises used by Parisi coaches, they anchor a segment of the Parisi program’s strength training approach. However, Parisi coaches must always remember that our signature strength and speed training modalities and load structures must be accompanied with jumping and/or sprinting. Strength gains are important for improving an athletes’ power output, but there is a point of diminishing returns. Parisi coaches should be mindful that when an athlete increases their muscle mass it cannot be at the expense of decreasing their ability to overcome gravity. The success of the Parisi Speed School is its ability to enhance the speed of its athletes.

The slam dunk of Vince Carter, the high jump of Javier Sotomayor and even the flip turn of Michael Phelps during his 200m butterfly are amazing examples of the eccentric, isometric and concentric phases of explosive movement described above. Jump focused classes should always be guided by the goal of building the skills to apply more force into the ground through muscular and connective tissue elastic qualities. Strength training efforts must help an athlete transfer their strength gains into speed and/or higher or further jumps. Jump training offers more value to youth athletes than simply improving their vertical jump.