When football players hit the gym, they usually focus on either heavy weight training to build size and strength or specific drills to improve athletic performance at a combine-style skills showcase. Both styles of training are important, and both styles have their place.
But maybe more than any other sport, football—with its sheer speed and raw collisions—demands explosive hips, cutting ability, and agility to transition quickly between acceleration and deceleration.
That’s why plyometric exercises are so valuable for football players. Plyometrics—up-and-down, side-to-side, and twisting movements—develop both strength and speed, activate the body’s central nervous system, and stimulate fast-twitch muscle fibers that enable the athlete to generate force quickly.
Plyometrics also help defend a player’s body against injury on the field by improving an athlete’s “elasticity,” the ability to withstand the rapid loads and muscle lengthening that occurs on each play. Think of a wide receiver straining to catch the ball or a defensive end maneuvering toward the quarterback—those motions demand explosive elasticity.
These 10 basic exercises—focused on plyometrics—will improve your ability to accelerate and decelerate on the football field and recover quickly between practices and games.
Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.