Purpose: Numerous studies have reported that land-based plyometrics can improve muscular strength, joint stability, and vertical jump (VJ) in athletes; however, due to the intense nature of plyometric training, the potential for acute muscle soreness or even musculoskeletal injury exists. Performance of aquatic plyometric training (APT) could lead to similar benefits, but with reduced risks due to the buoyancy of water. Unfortunately, there is little information regarding the efficacy of APT. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of APT on VJ and muscular strength in volleyball players.
Methods: Nineteen female volleyball players (aged 15 +/- 1 yr) were randomly assigned to perform 6 wk of APT or flexibility exercises (CON) twice weekly, both in addition to traditional preseason volleyball training. Testing of leg strength was performed at baseline and after 6 wk, and VJ was measured at baseline and after 2, 4, and 6 wk.
Results: Similar increases in VJ were observed in both groups after 4 wk (APT = 3.1%, CON = 4.9%; both P < 0.05); however, the APT group improved by an additional 8% (P < 0.05) from week 4 to week 6, whereas there was no further improvement in the CON group (-0.9%; P = NS). After 6 wk, both groups displayed significant improvements in concentric peak torque during knee extension and flexion at 60 and 180 degrees x s(-1) (all P < 0.05).
Conclusions: The combination of APT and volleyball training resulted in larger improvements in VJ than in the CON group. Thus, given the likely reduction in muscle soreness with APT versus land-based plyometrics, APT appears to be a promising training option.