Plyometric Training for Football Players

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 | by Laura Murdoch | No Comments

Last Updated on: 27th September 2023, 12:19 pm

What is plyometric training?


Plyometrics for football players


Every football player wants to be faster. However, there is often a misconception about how best to improve speed. Many believe that the key to speed is fast feet so they concentrate on increasing their foot speed. However, research shows that players who take fewer steps and have a longer ground contact time actually cover ground faster. The reason for this is power. The longer your foot is on the ground the more power you can put into it. Strength and power are the keys to getting your speed up so it’s important that your training deals with that. This is where plyometric training comes in.


Agility hoops being used by a football player for plyometric training

What is plyometric training?

Plyometric exercise involves using explosive and fast movement to develop power in your muscles. They are exercises that will allow muscles to exert their maximum force in the shortest time possible. It’s an important area for football players as it helps with all aspects of their performance.

When talking about power we’re not talking about strength. Getting power to your legs is not just a case of doing a few more squats. Muscular power is determined by the time it takes to convert strength into speed. So, if you want to move across a football pitch quickly, you need power.

A bodybuilder has a great deal of physical strength and will be able to perform squats while carrying a heavy weight. Although, they might not be able to jump as far as someone with less strength. The act of squatting is a slow movement. To jump, your muscles need to stretch and contract quickly.

The movement you make when going for a header is a plyometric movement. When going into a jump, you start with a downward thrust. You need to bend your knees if you want to get off the ground. That initial dip stretches the muscles that will be contracting to make the jump. The quicker the muscles contract after stretching, the higher the jump will be.


The 3 stages

All plyometric movements involve three phases. These three phases are collectively known as the stretch-shortening cycle.

  1. The first phase is the pre-stretch or eccentric muscle action (preactivation). It is during this stage that elastic energy is generated and stored.
  2. The second phase is the time it takes for the pre-stretch to end and the concentric muscle action (stretch) to start. This transition period is known as the amortization phase. The shorter the second phase is, the more powerful the muscle contraction will be.
  3. The third phase is muscle contraction (shortening). This is the movement your player wants to make.


Plyometric training can help give power to your kick footballs

Plyometrics for Footballers

Plyometric training allows a player to condense the time their muscles need to apply the maximum force needed to perform a particular movement. A shorter time will translate into greater power with each contraction of the muscle.

To get a muscle to move, it first has to contract. If that muscle is lengthened first, it will produce more force because it will have stored more elastic energy. Elastic energy is the internal energy that is converted into mechanical energy. This kind of explosive movement is required for many aspects of football. Plyometrics can help with rapid changes in direction, sprinting, and kicking footballs.

What does plyometric training improve?

Playing a good quality long ball is an important part of a player’s performance. They routinely have to take free kicks and play balls that need to travel a long distance. Attackers will also need to strike high-speed shots. This means kicking velocity and distance are really important. Muscle power is vital when it comes to sprinting, stopping, cutting, and jumping.

Research carried out by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas also found that players were able to improve kicking distance thanks to low-intensity plyometric training. The results showed that both kicking distance and vertical jumping ability improved. By week 7, kicking distance had increased by 10% and improved by more than 27% by week 14. In week 7, their vertical jump had increased by 8% and was up by 19% at week 14. During this time, the control group’s kicking distance decreased and their vertical jump stayed the same.

An agility ladder being used in football trainingUseful Equipment

You don’t need to use equipment to introduce plyometrics into your training routine, but there are some pieces that will help you include a wider range of exercises. These include:

You can shop for these items and more training equipment on our website.

Things to remember

  • Only a relatively small amount of plyometric training is required to help improve performance. There is no need to push your players.
  • Just one or two types of plyometric exercise carried out 1-3 times a week for 6-12 weeks can bring about significant improvements.
  • Only a small volume is required to see positive changes. Aim for between 2-4 sets of 10 repetitions or 4 sets of 8 repetitions.
  • A training programme that combines resistance training and plyometric training can improve power greater than either one on its own.
  • Perform plyometric exercises at the start of your training session so your muscles are fresh.
  • Actions should be performed at high speed with maximum intensity. The aim is to maintain high-quality movements.
  • It is vital to have a good strength base before you start. Plyometric movement converts strength into power, so it needs to be there.
  • Try to do your plyometrics on softer surfaces, such as grass or dirt fields, as it will reduce unnecessary stress on your joints and knees.


Example exercises

Jump Running

Try to get as much height and distance as you can with each stride.

Agility Ladder Training

The agility ladder helps you improve acceleration, lateral speed and change of direction. It also enhances balance, rhythm and body control. See our agility ladder drills post for ideas on how to use them.

Training hurdles are a useful tool for plyometric trainingHurdle Training

Hurdles are a great piece of equipment for plyometric training. Check out our previous hurdle training drills post for ideas on useful drills.

Tuck Jumps

Will improve your agility, strength, and stability. Helps you quickly change direction.

  • Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and jump up as high as you can. Bring your knees up towards your chest.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

Stairway hops

  • Start at the bottom of a staircase.
  • Hop up the stairs on your right leg.
  • Walk back down.
  • Then do the opposite side.

Flat markers can be a useful tool in your plyometric training

Lateral bounds

This will help with your speed and jumping height. It will help increase your players’ speed.

  • Start in a squat position, balancing on your right leg.
  • Explosively jump as high and far to the left as possible.
  • Land on your left leg in a squat position.
  • Explosively jump as high and far to the right as possible.
  • Land back in the starting position.
  • Do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.

Box jumps

You’ll need something sturdy that you can jump on. It should be about 12 to 36 inches high. Increase the intensity by performing the exercise using one leg.

  • From standing, squat down to jump onto the box with both feet.
  • Lift your arms as you jump to gain momentum.
  • Jump up and backwards off the box, gently landing with bent knees.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.


More information

It’s always good to find out as much as you can before setting your players off on a new plyometric programme. Check out the following links for more helpful information.


Get ready for your next training session

To get your players ready for their next match, you want to create a comprehensive football training programme. Having a good supply of great quality training equipment is only going to help your efforts. We offer more than just high-quality football kits. Be sure to check out Pendle’s range of training equipment so you have everything you need to help your players develop their skills.



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Training Hurdles Agility Hoops Agility Ladders




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