Do you know how to become more Powerful?
In many day-to-day conversations, Strength and Power are mistakenly used as interchangeable terms, but although there is a connection between strength and power they are two different components of fitness. Athletes of all ages should look to develop both components should they wish to see development in their overall performance during competition.
Simply put, power is the ability to generate force, in the shortest possible time.
Therefore, any athlete that needs to accelerate quickly, jump, throw or kick should be training for power as part of their training programme to encourage all round improvements in sports performance.
This covers lots of sports, think of a:
- Footballer sprinting to get to the ball first, jumping to win a header, changing direction quickly to clear the ball, the list goes on.
- Cricketers Sprinting between the wickets or chasing down a ball in the field.
- Netballers jumping to retrieve the ball or sprinting into position.
The list is endless, but what this shows is the need for Powerful Athletes, across a spectrum of sports and therefore improving Power and all Physical Components of Fitness, should be viewed with the same importance as developing your technical or tactical abilities and understanding.
There are simple challenges that you can do yourself to monitor how Powerful you are and to monitor any improvements. Most people in sport will be aware of Standing Broad Jumps and Standing Vertical jumps. These challenges measure your power by examining how far (or high) you can jump – you need maximum force to be able to achieve this movement to the best of your ability.
This shows the link between force and speed, and if our athletes can exert more force and can do so faster, they will become more powerful and, as already discussed, Power is a really useful tool to have for most sports.
Within a long-term athletic development programme it is recommended that Power is targeted pre-and-post peak height velocity. Meaning that athletes of all ages, can and should, start training for this. Power improvements in young athletes is in collaboration with strength training, which can be contributed to neuromuscular adaptations as the nervous system needs to generate force as quickly as possible.
How can you improve your Power?
For younger athletes (pre-peak height velocity), Power can be developed with the mastery of Fundamental Movement Skills. Activities such as hopping, skipping, jumping and running are great drills to enhance power development.
For more mature children (post-peak height velocity), and older athletes. it is recommended to combine resistance training with Plyometrics, as concurrent resistance activities and plyometrics drills has been reported to develop power in jumping and sprinting.
Develop a strong foundation.
As with other areas of fitness, strength training can provide a solid foundation, from this foundation, we can start to develop our Power. Body Weight Exercise and adding further resistance can help support this, depending on the maturity of the athlete. When using resistance training for power, start with relatively light loads (between 30% and 60% of an athlete 1 rep max) before increasing and varying the loads for trained individuals.
Increase Rest In between sets.
Encouraging increased rest in between sets can help athletes work at optimal velocity, which, when we look back at the definition of power, is what we need to achieve. It will also help S&C to develop accurate velocity profiles when required.
Encourage Explosive Movements.
Encouraging Explosive Movements will help vary the velocity of movements and will increase the optimum velocity over time as neuromuscular adaptations take place. Explosive movements can be encouraged through resistance training, but also through your plyometric training.
Plyometric training refers to a specific exercise modality that is built around jumping, hopping, bounding and skipping movements. They are performed in an extremely fast and explosive manner (Lloyd, 2012). They are designed to continually work the muscles through their short-stretch cycle to promote the improvements in strength and power, which in turn, should have a positive impact on change of direction speed, and eventually agility.
Start with bounce plyometrics, before developing into bounding type plyometrics.
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