Episode 81 - AFL Plyometric TrainingCategoriesFooty Tips

Plyometric Training for AFL Players: Enhance Power and Performance

Australian Football League (AFL) demands high levels of physical prowess, where power development is not just beneficial—it’s crucial. This comprehensive guide delves into the strategic application of plyometrics, employing a structured plyo framework to optimize power and performance in AFL players. Tailored for strength and conditioning coaches and high-performance staff, we explore effective methodologies that enhance explosive capabilities through specific training techniques.

Understanding Plyometrics in AFL

Plyometrics, or plyo, involves explosive exercises that enhance the stretch-shortening cycle of the muscles, crucial for rapid and powerful movements in sports. This type of training is especially pivotal in AFL, where activities such as sprinting, jumping, and quick directional changes dominate the gameplay.

Scientific Foundation

Evidence supports the significant impact of plyometric training on athletic performance, with specific benefits in leg power and overall explosiveness—key components for AFL athletes. According to Ramirez-Campillo et al. (2020), plyometric jump training substantially improves physical fitness in soccer players, closely paralleling the demands faced by AFL players1.

Creating an Effective Plyometrics Program

Designing a plyometrics program requires a deep understanding of AFL’s physical demands and the individual athlete’s capabilities. Here’s a refined approach to structuring a plyometrics regimen using the plyo framework.

Step 1: Plyo Framework and Deep Tier Coordination

The plyo framework begins with foundational movements, categorized under deep tier coordination rudiments. This involves basic skills like **hopping, bounding,** and **jumping** to develop coordination and condition athletes for more complex movements.

Step 2: Advanced Plyometric Techniques

As athletes progress, they engage in more advanced drills, such as **depth drops** and activities that incorporate **low, medium, and high amplitude vectors**. These exercises enhance the body’s ability to absorb and generate force, crucial for effective tackling and leaping in AFL.


Step 3: Exercise Selection

Selecting the right exercises is critical to target movement patterns and energy systems most utilized in AFL. For lower body power, focus on:

– **Jumping/Leaping Force:** Utilize drills that enhance vertical and horizontal leap abilities, integrating cues for precise execution.

– **Bounding and Depth Drops:** These are high-intensity drills that improve dynamic leg strength and explosive power.

### Step 4: Program Variables

– **Frequency:** Implement 2-3 plyometric sessions per week, with adjustments made for in-season or off-season periods.

– **Intensity and Volume:** Adjust intensity levels and volume according to the phase of training, focusing on quality and technique.

– **Progression:** Gradually increase exercise intensity and complexity based on the athlete’s improvement and conditioning levels.

### Step 5: Safety and Injury Prevention

Emphasize proper technique and gradual progression to prevent injuries. Ensure athletes perform exercises with correct form and adequate recovery periods are observed to handle the high-impact nature of plyometrics.

Integration with Other Training Components

Plyometrics should be integrated with strength, endurance, and skill training to ensure a well-rounded athletic development. This holistic approach addresses all physical aspects required for peak AFL performance.

Case Studies and Practical Applications

Studies such as those by Markovic (2007) and Komi and Bosco (1978) emphasize the importance of plyometric training in enhancing vertical jump height and leg power, which are directly transferable to AFL performance demands3】【4. Blagrove, Howe, and Cushion (2018) also illustrate the complementary nature of strength and plyometric training in sports5.

A well-structured plyometric program is essential for developing explosive power in AFL players. By adhering to a detailed plyo framework and focusing on deep tier coordination, coaches can significantly enhance their athletes’ performance capabilities. The key is not just to implement plyometrics but to integrate them strategically with other training elements to produce resilient and powerful AFL athletes.



1. Ramirez-Campillo, R., Alvarez, C., García-Pinillos, F., Sanchez-Sanchez, J., Yanci, J., Castillo, D., & Loturco, I. (2020). Effects of plyometric jump training on physical fitness in amateur and professional soccer players: A meta-analysis. *Journal of Sports Sciences*, 38(6), 674-683. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2020.1716687

2. Behrens, M., Mau-Moeller, A., Mueller, K., Heise, S., Gube, M., Beuster, N., Herlyn, P. K. E., & Bruhn, S. (2016). Plyometric training improves voluntary activation and strength during isometric, concentric and eccentric contractions. *Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport*, 19(2), 170-176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2015.02.007

3. Markovic, G. (2007). Does plyometric training improve vertical jump height? A meta-analytical review. *British Journal of Sports Medicine*, 41(6), 349-355; discussion 355. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2007.035113

4. Komi, P. V., & Bosco, C. (1978). Utilization of stored elastic energy in leg extensor muscles by men and women. *Medicine and Science in Sports*, 10(4), 261-265.

5. Blagrove, R. C., Howe, L. P., & Cushion, E. J. (2018). Effects of strength training on the physiological determinants of middle- and long-distance running performance: A systematic review. *Sports Medicine*, 48(5), 1117-1149. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0835-7