Power is often overlooked when athletes are strength training. Power and dynamic balance are the two best physical predictors of athletic success. Power is defined as the ability to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time (rate-of-force production). Sports power can be trained for and improved. There is a point at which increasing strength will not result in an increase in power. This four-part article series will begin with me discussing the purpose of sports power training.
There are five purposes for sports power training (plyometrics):
1. Improve the excitability, sensitivity and reactivity of the neuromuscular system.
2. Improve the rate-of-force production.
3. Increase motor-unit recruitment.
4. Increase motor-unit firing frequency.
5. Increase motor-unit synchronization.
Sports power training teaches the athlete how to activate the right muscles (prime movers and synergists) at the right time. Sports power training also provides the athlete with optimal neuromuscular efficiency.
The key component in sports power training is utilization of the Integrated Performance Paradigm which strives to train the athlete to decrease the amount of time between an eccentric contraction (force reduction) and a concentric contraction (force production).
Plyometrics have become very popular but inefficient use of this training method will lead to injuries. The concept behind plyometrics will be discussed in part 2 of this article series.