Posted by: Street | January 18, 2011

Plyometrics with Young Athletes

A common argument about when to introduce plyometrics to athletes exists amongst many trainers and coaches. Many experts believe that a foundation of functional strength should be established before being introduced to plyometrics. Proponents of this thought process believe athletes should be able to squat 1.5 to 2 times their own bodyweight before plyometric training is introduced (Brown & Ferrigno, 2005). In reality, many athletes, depending on the sport, will never achieve lower body strength levels that allow them to lift this much weight. For example, how many high school and collegiate male athletes that are 150 lbs are able to squat 300lbs? I know from my own experiences in collegiate sports, most football players will be able to adhere to this guideline; however, baseball players, basketball players, and hockey players oftentimes do not possess this much lower body strength. If any of us saw strength and conditioning programs for these sports that had plyometrics absent, we would likely think the S & C coach was crazy, right?  If we followed this guideline, 1.5 – 2 times bodyweight to a “T,” I believe we would surely be doing a disservice to the athletes we work with.

The truth is most of us have been participating in plyometrics long before we were ever strong enough to lift twice our bodyweight. Running, skipping, hopping, bounding, and jumping are all plyometric movements, where our bodies take advantage of its ability to use the stretch shortening cycle (SSC), or to use elastic energy in other words. So, to say plyometrics are not appropriate for any athlete is non-sense. Any sport that requires an athlete to be on his/her two feet is going to be likely more intense “plyometrically” than formal training, or at least it should be especially when dealing with athletes with a young training age; however, when trainers and coaches ignore the volume at which these drills are performed, it could lead to overuse injuries (Faigenbaum, 2000). Plyometrics are paramount in not only increasing one’s power production, but also in motor skill learning such as how to jump, run, change direction, and absorb force.

Brown, L. E., & Ferrigno, V. A. (2005). Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Faigenbaum, A. D. (2000). Are Plyometrics Safe for Children. Strength and Conditioning Journal , 45-46.


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