If Kangaroos Could Ski

Ski Fit 0902

Those marsupials are onto something: Jumping equals power. Plyometric jumping drills will boost your skiing to new heights. So you're strong and fit but haven't made a breakthrough in your skiing? Try catching some air.

Not on the slopes, but in the preseason with plyometric jumping exercises. "Plyometrics will make you quicker, more balanced and lighter on your feet," says Emily Miller, a national strength and conditioning coach based in Crested Butte, Colo. "They will give you an edge in trees, bumps and steeps." Even if you stick to the groomers, plyos can help you develop quick reflexes to dodge rocks, ice patches or skiers who dart into your path.

Plyometrics is a term derived from Latin roots meaning "measured jumps." Plyos include any exercise, from jumping rope to tossing a medicine ball, in which a muscle is contracted eccentrically (think the end of a ski turn) and then immediately contracted concentrically (the beginning). To picture it, think of the muscle as a rubber band that is stretched and then released. The faster you can switch from a stretch to a release, the greater your explosive power and the better your reaction time on the hill.

Ramping Up Don't do plyometrics without at least four to six weeks of strength and cardiovascular training under your belt. "If you go straight from the couch to plyos, they won't get you ready for skiing-they'll get you ready for surgery," says conditioning coach Vern Gambetta, president of a sports consulting firm whose clients include Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont.

Alignment issues, low-back pain and knee problems are signs you're not ready for plyos. The high-impact exercises will just magnify your troubles, so rehab before you start. Then use this ski-specific plyo workout to take your skiing to a higher level this season.

Click below for the skier's plyometric workout.