Plyometric Exercises for Warmups
Common warmup activities such as static and ballistic stretching are detrimental to athletic performance and might even cause injury. Warming up with dynamic stretches, including sport-specific plyometric movements, will help you better prepare for your activity.
Types of Warmups
Holding a stretch less than 30 minutes before activity desensitizes muscles and decreases power and vertical leap. Ballistic, or bounce stretching, can lead to muscle strains or sprains. Moderate, dynamic stretching, such as arm swings, skipping or jumping jacks, helps warm muscles, get blood flowing to them and stretch them appropriately. Movements that coordinate two muscles or muscle groups create plyometric power.
Jumping jacks are a familiar, full-body plyometric exercise that is simple to do. Start with your hands at your sides and feet under your shoulders. Jump up and kick your legs out to just beyond shoulder width as you simultaneously raise your hands above your head and touch your fingers together.
Hops and Skips
Using a rope ladder, hop on one foot the length of the ladder, then return hopping on the other foot. If you don't have a rope ladder, follow along a straight line. Hop back and forth across a single line to vary this warmup. Skip the length of a court or gym while bringing your knees up as close to your chest as possible. Keep your feet in contact with the ground for as short a time as possible. For 1-2-3 jumps, take two large skips, then jump in the air with your third step. Walk back to your starting point, then repeat, starting with the other foot. Skip while jumping rope.
Stand on a box or bench as high as your best vertical leap from a standing position. You can use a lower platform such as the first row of a set of bleachers. Jump off the box or bench, then bend your knees and jump as high as you can, getting your feet off the floor as soon as you can. Vary this warmup by jumping off a lower box, then jumping up and onto a higher box.
Stand with your feet under your shoulders and your elbows out from your side, with your forearms bent inward so your knuckles meet in front of your chest. Turn your torso to the left, keeping your face straight ahead, while simultaneously raising your right knee as high as you can under your left breast. Alternate steps as if you are marching in place.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.