Plyometric training can be traced back approximately 40 years ago to Russia, where it was originally used as a method for increasing strength and power in track and field athletes. Now days, almost every exercise that involves some sort of jumping movement is considered a plyometric exercise. There is no doubt that plyometric training has been shown to increase athletic performance; however, there is much debate about how early in an athlete’s career it should be introduced. Plyometric training can be beneficial and safe for children and adolescents provided that the program is properly designed and supervised.introduced. Plyometric training can be beneficial and safe for children and adolescents provided that the program is properly designed and supervised.
Plyometric exercises utilize the strength-shortening cycle (SSC) to create a powerful muscle contraction. During the SSC, the muscles are able to store the tension created from the stretch for a short period of time. Then force is produced as the muscles contract, much like a rubber band being stretched and released. Plyometrics call upon multiple muscle groups to work together at once to produce the maximal power output. These exercises teach an athlete how to use their whole body as a single unit quickly and aggressively. Plyometric exercises also can increase reactive strength, coordination, and can reduce the risk of injury by developing a more symmetrical athlete.
The first step in developing a training program for an adolescent who is interested in plyometric training would be to assess them to determine if they are physically and mentally ready for plyometrics. Plyometric exercises can involve high-impact movements and it is important that the athlete has foundational strength to support the body and decrease any imbalances they might have. It is also important that the athlete is mentally mature enough to learn proper form and make sure that every repetition counts. If improper form is established at this age, it can become a habit that is hard to eliminate as the athlete develops.
At Champion’s QUEST, an athlete must first start in our B.A.S.E clinic which focuses on foundational strength and movements with proper form. Once they turn 11, they may move into a “Strength” clinic that continues to develop their foundational strength with the application of some sort of external load to the body. Once a coach feels that they are proficient in their
form, they may join our “Power” clinic. This clinic incorporates high-impact plyometrics and introduces Olympic lifting techniques. The criteria for this promotion is subjective, varies from athlete to athlete, and is at the discretion of all the coaches at our facility. There are many benefits that come with plyometric training but proper form should be of utmost concern to ensure correct habits are being formed at this early age of an athlete’s career.
For more information on plyometric training or to schedule a demo session email Coach Kyle.