Assessment and Training of Lower Body Power

Here is a video from the SPRINZ Strength and Conditioning Conference 2013 of Jeremy Sheppard’s practical workshop. The SPRINZ website has Jeremy’s Keynote Address titled as “Consideration for the Assessment and Training of Lower Body Power” so I assume this workshop supplemented the presentation. Anyway, the video is 1 hour 40 minutes long and Jeremy is one of the best coaches in the world so it’s well worth it.

After taking three volunteers through a simple warm up (lunges, shuffles, bear crawls, spidermen, duck walks etc) Jeremy can instantly identify areas of restricted range of motion (hip and ankle specifically) and gives examples of mobility drills to increase range in the joints through banded traction. Any poor posture is causing a leak in power when it comes to transferring to explosive movements seen in jumping sports such as surfing, volleyball, basketball, and netball. Athletes in these sports require greater ankle mobility to absorb forces, if there is a lack of ankle range, the stress goes to the lower back and knees which alters the biomechanics negatively. Jeremy had the volunteers workout barefoot, as do his athletes, using the feet for feedback as sometimes shoes/trainers can cover up how the foot and ankle move during movement. Any sport has repetitive strain aspects therefore athletes need to be robust to train and compete.

Childhood is a position where plyometric training can be effective, and if we don’t capitalize on this, we might miss a big opportunity to train those characteristics. This big window of adaptation might not be open to the athlete later on in their development.

Tuck jumps in place are a good exercise for accentuated eccentric overload. By bringing the knees up to the chest, changes the velocity of the foot prior to ground contact as compared to a CMJ. Altitude landings are a training exercise. If you have relatively untrained perform altitude landings, their CMJ and DJ will increase through an enhanced eccentric component. During jumps we don’t want overly loud landings – force = mass.acceleration, mass is constant to we have to dissipate acceleration better, but if absorb force over too long a period = screw up their sport. Coaches can create different environments purposely depending on the adaptation required (this could be similar to the depth/drop jump – spending as little time on the ground/jumping as high as possible by Verkoshansky). The coach has to weigh up – least chance of injury vs. stiffest most abrupt landing.

Some progressions of altitude landings:
Altitude landing (bilateral)
Altitude landing (unilateral)
Altitude landing > broad jump
Altitude landing > vertical jumpAltitude landing > 180 degree jump – challenges perceptual ability

Use external cues/analogies – create a context that allows the athlete to learn.

If you increase the height of the drop = increase the stretch load. Lower heights can be used for short contacts. An ‘optimal’ height can be used for jump height and the next available height to challenge the neuromuscular system, it won’t kill them but increases eccentric overload.

Accentuated Eceentrics
CMJ onto box holding DB’s, (drop DB’s at the bottom of the descent) – lots of feedback in the drill
Too light = not enough stimulation
Too heavy = myogenic stimulus
By increasing the eccentric component, the neuromuscular system is more “prepared” to shift a heavy load = increases acceleration in the concentric phase
Start around 20% body weight

Assisted Jumps
References the work of Dr Lee Brown
Velocity based athletes need to be strong
Assisted jump teaches the muscles to accelerate fast and achieve higher peak velocity

Weightlifting Movements
Power Snatch – if an athlete can’t perform it, it shows something is limiting (shoulder, hips, ankle) but it can be worked on
Get range, get stability, get strength

If you’re competing in sport but can’t get in the required positions, you’re training below the level required to compete at

Snatch balance is great for stability, strength and eccentric overload

Is an exercise similar to the sport? No. Is it specific? Yes

Olympic lifts require triple extension, eccentric control and high neuromuscular aspect

The full clean/snatch optimizes full potential of power clean/snatch. Power variations are servants to the full lifts

DB versions of the lifts can be used to lower the risk of injury.

In weak athletes – unilateral training will increase strengthIn strong(er) athletes – must perform heavy bilateral strength training


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