3 Ways To Make Your Power Training More Effective
By: Jerrod Krick, B.S., C.S.C.S.
Power development is essential for success in most sports. It is usually what separates the high performers from the low performers. The ability to jump that extra inch higher, run 2 tenths of second faster, or throw the ball 3 miles per hour faster can make a huge difference in being successful or not being successful in our respective sports. It can even be the difference in being noticed or being over looked by a college/professional scout. Here are 3 ways to make your power training more effective.
1. Technical Proficiency
If an athlete is trying to improve their sprint speed, they can do so just by running sprints. However, the athlete can still be left with a less desirable sprint time simply because of poor running mechanics. Becoming more efficient with running mechanics allows the athlete to direct more energy into the direction they are going vs. losing that energy on unnecessary movement patterns caused by poor mechanics. The same can be said of jumping and throwing movement patterns. Efficiency in the movement pattern will allow a greater potential for power in the movement pattern.
2. Use Resistance That Allows for Both Speed and Force Production
This one is critical for power development. Power is not just about the amount of force produced or just the speed at which it was produced, but rather a combination of the two. The amount of technical proficiency needed will determine how much force is required and will give you an idea what kind of resistance is needed for improving power in that movement pattern. For example, baseball throwing velocity can be improved by throwing weighted baseballs. However, using too heavy of a baseball can actually hamper the improvements because of compensations that are made to throw the heavier baseball. Throwing a weighted baseball at a slightly heavier resistance such as 1 or 2 ounces heavier than a standard baseball will provide much better improvements. If we wanted to improve our vertical jump, say with barbell jump squats. We know we can use a much larger range of resistance to improve our jumping. The 2 most important things to keep in mind when considering using extra resistance for power development are: 1) the resistance used should keep the skill technically proficient and 2) the speed of the movement should be kept as close to competitive game speed as possible.
3. Build or Maintain an Adequate Strength Base
Does squatting 400 pounds mean you will have a 40 inch vertical jump or be able to throw 90 miles per hour off the mound? Absolutely not! But if you have a squat max that is high enough to perform more explosive styles of training with external resistance, such as sprints with a weighted sled or barbell jump squats, you have a greater capacity to improve your power. Maximum strength provides the base from which we can develop power. The required base of strength is determined by the need for technical proficiency. Throwing a 90 mile per hour fastball does not require the same base of strength for a 40 inch vertical jump. They have different requirements for strength because the technical proficiency for throwing a 90 mile per hour fastball is much higher than a standing squat jump. Therefore, training to develop a 90 mile per hour fastball would not require the same amount of focus on strength development as it would for the vertical jump.