Derick Robinson blazes faster than the road-runner through the top of the key past his opponents, he takes off with blistering explosiveness as he soars way above the rim with his arm stretched out and slam dunks the basketball with powerful execution.
The pulse of the dunk elicits loud screams of awe and cheer but it is not only the dunk that gets the crowd rallied up. Robinson’s height of only 5’9 is what really turns heads and raises eyebrows.
“I’ve been jumping since I was a little kid but I didn’t know I could enhance my flight until I started working really hard at it. Right now I’ve added 14 inches to my vertical jump,” Robinson said.
The secret behind Robinson’s ability to jump higher and dunk on a 10-foot rim are the workouts he implements from time to time- Plyometrics.
Plyometrics are exercises that merge physical qualities of speed and strength. This involves the toughening of tissues and training of nerve cells to stimulate a pattern of muscle contraction. These exercises help a person to run faster, hit harder, throw further and jump higher.
The Eastern Europeans first used plyometrics in the 1970s to develop greater strength and power in their Olympic athletes. They based their programs on scientific evidence that stretching muscles prior to contracting them enhance muscle contraction according to the American Council on Exercises (ACE.)
Sports Massage Therapist Dennis Wright from Miller-Motte Technical College states it is a workout that focuses on enhancement of muscles in the body
“Plyometrics bridge the gap between speed and strength thus developing power. Muscle mass versus velocity equals power which results in explosiveness. Some exercises include leg training, box jumps and core training,” Wright said.
When used safely and effectively, benefits from Plyometrics result in stronger muscles, increased vertical jump and decreased impact forces on the joints.
Plyometric exercises are generally tailored to athletes but Wright recommended it as part of any regular workout if proper precautions are taken.
“Plyometrics should only be used after you’ve conditioned the body and developed adequate core strength and joint stability. That’s when you mostly benefit,” Wright said.
Plyometric training has its benefits but has received its fair share of criticism. It is labeled as complex and extremely dangerous.
Anybody considering Plyometric training should proceed with extreme caution due to reported cases of injury and severe muscle cramps from dangerous Plyometric programs such as depth jumping and drop jumping. Some of these programs involve jumping up and down from boxes or benches that are as high as 42 inches.
The ACE recommends only simple ground-level jumps from soft surfaces and training under proper supervision for anyone, even athletes. Plyometric training can be a smart addition to a healthy individual’s training program, as long as it is used wisely.
“When you start out with plyometrics, it is not something you should do by yourself. I had a trainer help me with my jump training,” Robinson said.
Robinson is fairly pleased with his results after 16 straight weeks of plyometric training.
“I feel like it’s definitely helped me a lot with my basketball even though it took some work. It was worth it because when I take off on the court it’s like I got springs in my legs,” Robinson said.