Name one Olympic sport that doesn't require speed, agility or strength. If you choose curling you are right, but what are professional curlers doing on bodybuilding.com? For any serious athlete, speed, agility or strength, makes up the foundation of training.
Training For Everything
But to train in all three areas you have to run, stretch consistently, and lift weights frequently, unless of course you do plyometric exercises. But before I begin describing plyometrics, it is important that I stress that plyometrics do not take the place of running, stretching and weight training, the help enhance the results.
Beginning of Plyometrics
Plyometrics were developed in Eastern Europe (read "Beginner's Guide to Strength Training" for details) for Olympic competitors. The words plyo and metrics are Latin for "measurable increases."
All plyometric exercises are done quickly and correctly. There are never any shortcuts. Every action is done in the intent to have a muscle reach full movement as quickly as possible. I am going to cut straight through all of the scientific terminology and eccentric concentric mumbo jumbo and say that if you do plyometrics consistently and correctly you will see results.
OK, now that you know about what plyometrics are and what they can do, you have to write your plyometric workout. The first thing you have to consider is "What is your main goal?" Do you want to cut down on you 40 time, throw the discus further or jump higher for basketball?
How Will It Improve me?
Then it is easy to tell what type of sport you are going to focus on. As an example, track and field sprints will improve your 40, track and field throwing will improve your discus and obviously basketball plyometric exercises will help you jump higher.
Now that you have the sport is will be much easier to research for you plyometric exercises. Unless you already know everything there is to know about plyometrics (what are you reading this for?) you are going to have to research either online or in a book.
There are several books that will have plyometric exercises pulled out for each sport. These exercises will be based on the target areas of each sport. Target areas are the parts of the body that receive the most stress during performance. As an example, biking is hardest on legs and tennis is hard on arms and legs.
For a basic plyometric workout I will use football. Depending upon your level (Junior High, High School or College) you should already have some sort of aerobic and resistance program. Five plyometric exercises pulled out exclusively for football in Donald A. Chu PhD's Jumping Into Plyometrics (Second Edition) are double legs hops, standing long jump to lateral sprint, depth jump to bag, depth jump to pass and a 90-second box drill. All exercises except for the last are to be done in three sets of five.
Going Into Detail
Looking at each exercise in depth, three of the five exercises include the use of a plyo-box. Most plyo-boxes have adjustable legs that can change from about 14-to-22 inches. The first exercise, double leg hops, requires no equipment. You start with you feet shoulder width apart. Then you squat down and jump as far as you can jump in a forward motion. The split second your feet touch the ground you need to repeat the jumping motion.
Moving up in difficulty is the standing long jump to lateral sprint. Start in the same squat position as the double-leg hops. Use as much arm swing and momentum as you can to do a standing long jump, plant your feet and sprint to the left or right for about ten feet.
The next two exercises require the use of a depth jump. A depth jump begins with the person standing with their toes on the edge of the box. They do not jump into the air, but they just drop down into a squat. The depth jump with bag and depth jump with pass are pretty much the same.
You begin the first with a depth jump, but then you immediately throw yourself forward and tackle a blocking bag. The next exercise begin with a depth jump, but instead of tackling a bag, you have a partner throw the ball up high so you have to jump up to try to catch it.
The Ninety-Second Drill
The 90-second box drill is more difficult. You begin standing next to the box with feet shoulder width apart. At the start of a clock, jump up onto the box and jump down on the other side. Immediately jump back onto the box and back down on the other side. Remember to be on the ground for as short as possible.
While jumping, try to pull your knees up into your chest. Every time you land on top of the box you count one. The goal is to make ninety touches in ninety seconds. If that is too difficult make it sixty touches in sixty seconds, or thirty touches in thirty seconds. If you are just beginning your plyometric training and you still can't reach 30 touches in 30 seconds you can work in sets of 10 or 15. This exercise needs to be done three times.
When Is It Best For Me?
Make sure with each sports season you perform a new group of exercises to meet the sports needs. Plyometrics are done best after your aerobic workout.
If you are serious about plyometrics you can buy a plyo-box, but they can cost up to two hundred dollars. If that is too expensive, or you just want to try plyometrics out, you can build one out of wood (make sure it is stable). As I said before, plyometrics do NOT take place of running, stretching, and weight lifting, they will just enhance your results.