According to About.com’s Sports Medicine Section
Plyometric exercises are specialized, high intensity training techniques used to develop athletic power.Plyometric training involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions that invoke the stretch reflex (stretching the muscle before it contracts so that it contracts with greater force). The most common plyometric exercises include hops, jumps and bounding movements.
Simply put, plyometrics are exercises which utilize the body’s own weight and movement to develop athletic strength and speed.
As wisegeek explains
Plyometric exercises are beneficial because they require an athlete to perform very explosive motions. By recruiting the muscle tissue quickly, the exercises increase the efficiency of the neuromuscular system. Rather than simply increasing the amount of muscle tissue on an athlete’s body, then, plyometric training allows the athlete to make more efficient use of the muscle tissue that he or she already has. This makes the muscles stronger without necessarily increasing their overall mass, which allows them to move faster.
Controversies Surrounding Plyometrics
There is little controversy as to the safety and effectiveness of plyometrics for adults and in advanced training. However, the use of plyometrics with children and adolescents has been controversial.
This is largely as a result of outdated research, a lack of understanding by coaches about the impacts it has on an athlete, and the prescription of too much training volume.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine,
plyometric training is a safe, beneficial and fun activity for children and adolescents provided that the program is properly designed and supervised.
Plyometric training may not only make children and adolescents faster and more powerful; this type of training may offer observable health benefit to young populations. The contention that plyometrics are inappropriate for boys and girls is not consistent with the needs of children and teenagers or their physical abilities.
In fact, plyometric training for youth is supported and recommend by nearly all major athletic training and medical organizations today, including The National Strength and Conditioning Association, US Soccer, and The American Council on Exercise to name a few.
The fact is, even jumping rope is a form of plyometric exercise.
Whether youth or adult, it is important to take adequate safety measures for plyometric training – or any other training.
Consider these guidelines to prevent plyometric related injury: