While many athletes have used sand in their training, it primarily exists as stuff in a bag, or something to run on. We can’t remember anyone doing plyometrics on any surface other than flat, level (hard), ground, and maybe a box that meets the same criteria. But logically, there’s nothing that would be prohibitive in mixing the two – doing plyometrics in the sand. But would there be any difference between sand and land (other than the intuition that sand based plyometrics would be more difficult)? Would there be a difference in results? One would think that the sand training would be harder and therefore give better results, right?
Fourteen volunteer subjects participated in a study where they either performed traditional depth jumps or in sand. They completed two sessions per week, and were tested before and after for agility (T-test), jumping ability (Vertical Jump Test and Standing Long Jump Test), 20-m and 40-m sprints, and one repetition maximum leg press (1RMLP). Here’s how they looked, before and after:
Most of the performance variables were statistically similar, when measured across the two groups. However, there was a trend towards the sand group getting a bit stronger than the land group, as measured by their 1RM in the leg press, while in the land group there was a trend for greater gains in the jumping and sprinting tests. The authors conclude that the greater increases in leg strength seen in the sand group was probably as a result of the longer contact time necessitated by jumping in sand, while the greater jumping and sprinting improvements were probably as a result of the decreased contact time found in the land group.
Our opinion is that there’s no law against doing some of your plyo training in the sand, especially if your goal is to improve strength, and doing some of it on a more traditional surface to improve your jumping and sprinting ability.