Moderator: Bill Glasheen
Plyometrics (also known as "plyos") is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity and innervation of muscle and surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, providing explosiveness for a variety of sport-specific activities. Plyometrics has been shown across the literature to be beneficial to a variety of athletes. Benefits range from injury prevention, power development and sprint performance amongst others.
When you pick up a baseball, it immediately suggests its purpose: to be thrown fast and with considerable accuracy. The pitcher, with his dance-like windup, prepares to do exactly that by transferring momentum from his body to the ball. To appreciate why this is necessary, try throwing a ball without moving your feet; it's difficult to throw it very far or very hard, but a forward step makes throwing much easier. So during the windup, the pitcher moves his entire body weight back behind the pitching rubber. Then he thrusts it forward to deliver the pitch.
This transfer of momentum from body to ball involves a biomechanical principle called sequential summation of movement. According to this principle, the largest body masses move first, followed by progressively smaller ones, in much the same way a multi-stage booster rocket jettisons a satellite into space: the large booster starts the process, is jettisoned, then is followed by the burning and jettisoning of progressively smaller and faster stages, until finally the small satellite is released at high speed. In baseball, the pitcher drives first with his legs, then his hips, shoulders, arm, wrist and fingers. As each part approaches full extension, the next part in the sequence begins to move, efficiently transferring momentum in a whip-like action. Proper timing is necessary to produce speed and accuracy, and to avoid strain and injury.
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