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Tennis Explosive Power – Plyometric Depth Drop

Plyometric Depth Drop to Increase Tennis Explosive Power

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The depth jump is a plyometric exercise that tennis atheletes can really benefit from for Tennis Explosive Power.
The main muscles involved are quadriceps (thigh), hamstrings, glutes (buttocks) and calf muscles.
The following extensions occur duing a Depth Jump ankle extension, knee extension, hip extension.

Muscular action

The depth jump is a plyometric exercise. Plyometric exercises work on the principle that a concentric muscular contraction is much stronger if it immediately follows an eccentric contraction of the same muscle. (Eccentric muscular action occurs when a muscle lengthens under load – eg the lowering phase of a biceps curl. Concentric muscular contraction occurs when a muscle shortens under load.)

The effect of a plyometric exercise is a bit like stretching out a coiled spring to its fullest extent (the eccentric contraction), then letting it go (the concentric contraction); large amounts of energy are released in a split second as the spring recoils.

Conditioning benefits

General

The depth jump provides a great base of dynamic power for Tennis Explosive Power. This is because it closely matches the tennis movement and muscular action. Most standard weight training lifts, even when performed as quickly as possible, take 0.5-0.7 seconds to complete, whereas during a depth jump your feet may only be in contact with the ground for between 0.2 and 0.3 seconds.

Start position

Stand on top of a strong platform 0.5-0.8m high (the greater the height, the greater the strength component, the lower the height the greater the speed component).

Action

Step slightly forward off the platform. Land toward your forefeet. Do not jump off the platform.

React as quickly as possible to the ground and spring immediately back up into the air;

Use your arms to add to your speed by drawing them back prior to stepping off the platform and swinging them vigorously upward as your feet hit the ground;

Keep your back in neutral alignment, ie not arched or rounded;

Focus your gaze straight ahead of you.

Maintain neutral posture and a balanced elevated chest position throughout the exercise. Do not attempt to absorb the landing on impact, rather react as quickly and as fast as you can, even if this sacrifices height gained;

The faster a muscle is forced to perform an eccentric contraction, the greater the concentric force it can generate. To help your understanding: think of a rubber ball being thrown against a wall. What happens when the ball is thrown harder? It springs back even faster and further. This is the effect you are looking for when performing plyometric exercises, like the depth jump;

  • Always warm up thoroughly before performing depth jumps;
  • Don’t perform more than two workouts a week and allow at least five days before important competitions;
  • Monitor the number of jumps performed. Depth jump volume is measured in ground contacts; avoid more than 60 in a session. Start with 3 x 6 repetitions;
  • To allow your power-producing fast-twitch muscle fibres to be at their most effective, take 30 seconds recovery between exercises and two minutes between sets;
  • Perform depth jumps on a non-slip flat surface – a sprung gymnasium floor or an all-weather athletics track are ideal surfaces;
  • You need to be in ‘the right frame of mind’ to get the most out of depth jumping. Going through the motions will not turn on sufficient neuromuscular input to optimise their performance.

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