• Jason Oswell

Plyometric training to increase Sprint speed

This is a little scientifically written because it was part of an assignment for my Sports Physiotherapy masters, so apologies in advance!

Sprint performance is governed by the athletes ability to utilise the elastic and neural components of the stretch shorten cycle (1). Plyometric training aims to improve the ‘stretch shorten cycle’, which occurs when quick eccentric contractions are followed by quick concentric actions (2) (3). This can aid sprint performance (4)(5).

The issue with the evidence surrounding plyometric training is that training depends on volume, frequency, surface, strength level, age and sport (6) (7). Some studies have shown that the effects of plyometrics did not have a significant effect on their sprint performance (8) (9)(10). These studies often have difficulty optimising the volume of training, the correct timeframe and the technique required to carry out the high-level exercises (11)(12).

There is a whole continuum of plyometric training intensities (Figure) and in order to achieve improvement, the biomechanical demands of sprinting need to be met (13).

Figure 2: the continuum of difficulty in plyometric exercises and the strength required to safely be able to practise the individual exercises.


Bounding is more favourable to improve sprint speed because of the horizontal to vertical angle force ratio (13). Furthermore, bounding can elicit ground reaction forces that equate to over 10 times body weight which is comparable to maximal sprinting and jumping (15) (16). This exercise uses quick, eccentric, single leg ground contact times followed by explosive lower limb extension, with an emphasis on horizontal force (13). Exercises that offer greater horizontal force generation correlate greater with sprint speed (15).

Plyometric training alone does not have a greater effect than sprint training on sprint speed (7), as the laws of specificity would reinforce (17). However plyometric training can significantly contribute to an improvement in sprint speed, therefore it is a necessary addition to training (17).


1. Malisoux L, Francaux M, Nielens H, Theisen D. Stretch-shortening cycle exercises: An effective training paradigm to enhance power output of human single muscle fibers. J Appl Physiol. 2006. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01027.2005

2. Fatouros IG, Jamurtas AZ, Leontsini D, et al. Evaluation of Plyometric Exercise Training, Weight Training, and Their Combination on Vertical Jumping Performance and Leg Strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2000. doi:10.1519/00124278-200011000-00016

3. Chu DA, Plummer L. Jumping into plyometrics: The language of plyometrics. Natl Strength Cond Assoc J. 1984. doi:10.1519/0744-0049(1984)006<0030:tlop>2.3.co;2

4. Arazi H, Asadi A. The effect of aquatic and land plyometric training on strength, sprint, and balance in young basketball players. J Hum Sport Exerc. 2011. doi:10.4100/jhse.2011.61.12

5. van de Hoef PA, Brauers JJ, van Smeden M, Backx FJG, Brink MS. The effects of lower-extremity plyometric training on soccer-specific outcomes in adult Male soccer players: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2020. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2019-0565

6. Stojanović E, Ristić V, McMaster DT, Milanović Z. Effect of Plyometric Training on Vertical Jump Performance in Female Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sport Med. 2017. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0634-6

7. RamiRez-Campillo R, Andrade DC, Izquierdo M. Effects of plyometric training volume and training surface on explosive strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2013. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318280c9e9

8. Turner AM, Owings M, Schwane JA. Improvement in running economy after 6 weeks of plyometric training. J Strength Cond Res. 2003. doi:10.1519/1533-4287(2003)017<0060:IIREAW>2.0.CO;2

9. Canavan PK, Vescovi JD. Evaluation of power prediction equations: Peak vertical jumping power in women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004. doi:10.1249/01.MSS.0000139802.96395.AC

10. Vassil K, Bazanovk B. The effect of plyometric training program on young volleyball players in their usual training period. J Hum Sport Exerc. 2012. doi:10.4100/jhse.2012.7.Proc1.05

11. El-Ashker S, Hassan A, Taiar R, Tilp M. Long jump training emphasizing plyometric exercises is more effective than traditional long jump training: A randomized controlled trial. J Hum Sport Exerc. 2019. doi:10.14198/jhse.2019.141.18

12. Silva AF, Clemente FM, Lima R, Nikolaidis PT, Rosemann T, Knechtle B. The effect of plyometric training in volleyball players: A systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019. doi:10.3390/ijerph16162960

13. Kossow AJ, Ebben WP. Kinetic analysis of horizontal plyometric exercise intensity. J Strength Cond Res. 2018. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002096

14. Suchomel TJ, Wagle JP, Douglas J, et al. Implementing eccentric resistance training—Part 2: Practical recommendations. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2019. doi:10.3390/jfmk4030055

15. Duffin GT, Stockero AM, Ebben WP. THE OPTIMAL PLYOMETRIC EXERCISE HORIZONTAL TO VERTICAL FORCE RATIO. In: 37th International Society of Biomechanics in Sport Conference, Oxford, OH, United States, July 21-25, 2019. ; 2019.

16. Matijevich ES, Branscombe LM, Scott LR, Zelik KE. Ground reaction force metrics are not strongly correlated with tibial bone load when running across speeds and slopes: Implications for science, sport and wearable tech. PLoS One. 2019. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0210000

17. Booth MA, Orr R. Effects of plyometric training on sports performance. Strength Cond J. 2016. doi:10.1519/SSC.0000000000000183

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