Multidirectional plyometrics: how do these impact jump, change of direction, and dynamic postural control?
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By Tom Green
24th April 2020 | 3 min read
Contents of Research Review
Many soccer-specific movements involve highvelocity concentric and eccentric muscular contractions involving the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). In this regard, plyometric training (PT) is known to improve SSC function and soccer performance.
The main objective of this study was to investigate the effects of multidirectional plyometric training (MPT) on several performance variables related to soccer in young children.
The participants were twenty-eight male soccer players from a soccer academy aged 11.6 ± 0.8 yr). These participants were randomly assigned into an experimental group (EP) (n = 14) or a control group (n = 14).
The EP group were introduced to an 8-week MPT programme performed twice a week. The control group maintained their regular training routine. The programme consisted of three exercises per week in a vertical-anterior-posterior plane, vertical-lateral, and vertical-anterior-posteriorlateral plane.
To assess vertical jump height, a squat jump and countermovement jump were used. Agility-based performance was investigated using an agility Ttest. Finally, the star excursion balance test was used to assess dynamic postural control.
The results of this study found that the MPT enhanced three important qualities that are relevant to the performance of young male soccer players. For the squat jump, a significant group x time interaction was observed (p < 0.05). For the countermovement jump and t-test, significant group x time interactions were also found in the EP (p > 0.05). However, the control group showed no significant improvements (p > 0.05).
Finally, dynamic postural control performance improved in seven axes in the dominant and nondominant leg. Again, no significant results were found in the control group (p > 0.05).
“The present study was based on a progressive, moderate intensity exercise programme to minimise the risk of injury. This study is unique in its application of jumping in multiple directions, suggesting that this is not only safe, but an effective method of developing athletic performance. In the attached podcast, Lee Taft discusses the role of multidirectional development in athleticism, suggesting some of the ways he incorporates drills which allow “free play”, and then evolves them into more complex and extensive change of direction tasks.
In the absence of growth-related hormones seen in children, the authors suggest that the improvements seen in this study are most likely associated with improved neuromuscular performance. Furthermore, as a result of improved muscle-tendon behaviour in the agonist and antagonist muscles during jumping, improvements in the concentric (squat jump: = +11.14%) and plyometric (countermovement jump = +9.91%) were seen. However, measuring strength alongside this, with the use of a handheld dynamometer, for example, would have supported this claim. In conclusion, such a program should be appealing to coaches as it requires very little time to complete, whilst showing some impressive results.”
The full study can be read here.