Plyometrics for Youth Athletes

Part 1. What are Plyometrics?

Plyometrics is a popular term used in the strength and conditioning field. Many strength coaches implement “plyometrics” into their programs to improve power and explosiveness in their young athletes.

Coaches will use this term as a marketing strategy to get the ear of parents who are looking for their child to become a better athlete. Words associated with “plyometrics” include “fast”, “power” and “explosive”.

The reason I put plyometrics in parentheses in the previous paragraph is many coaches, parents and athletes are uninformed about the real definition of plyometrics and how to implement them into a training program.

athletics-659475_640This blog, and IYCA Insider’s exclusive four-part series will examine the true meaning (origin) of plyometrics, how to prepare for plyometric exercises, how to properly progressed young athletes doing plyometric exercises and finally how to properly implement plyometrics into your training program.

The term plyometrics can be defined as an action of the body receiving a quick shock or impact which then produced a powerful involuntary eccentric contraction. Tension produced in this contraction was then given back in the return movement which consisted of the concentric contraction. It can also be referred to as “shock” method training system developed by Dr. Yuri Verkoshansky (known by many as father of plyometrics). This action should take .1-.2s in order for one to constitute an effective true plyometric exercise. Everything else, although effective, beneficial and needed, is considered plyometric preparation work. Essentially, one is engaging in jump training.

Jump training is a necessary component a young athlete should be exposed to in order to do plyometrics effectively and safely.

Plyometric exercises incorporate both speed and strength. Therefore, it produces a training effect that enhances these two things. Improvement in speed and strength allows the athlete to improve their overall athleticism.

Plyometric training improves explosive, elastic and eccentric strength, and other aspects of the neuromuscular system such as rhythm, balance, proprioception, movement coordination, and agility. It’s easy to see how much of a benefit plyometrics can aid in athletic development.

Plyometrics Categories

Plyometrics can be broken into 3 categories:

  • Upper body
  • Trunk
  • Lower body

Examples of an upper body plyometrics include quick strikes and various pushes such as a plyometric push up lying MB toss. A plyometric exercise involving the trunk would be any type of rotational work done at a high velocity manner. The final category of plyometric exercises are for the lower body.

The remaining three parts of this series is exclusively for the IYCA Insider and will focus on lower body plyometric exercises. If you are already an IYCA Insider, log in to see the last 3 parts.

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About the Author: Jeff King

  • CSCS certified
  • BS in Exercise Biology from UC Davis in 2005
  • MA in Kinesiology from San Diego State University in 2009
  • Wrote  Manuscript entitled: Comparing Preseason Frontal and Saggital Plane Plyometric Programs on Vertical Jump Height in High-School Basketball Players
  • Published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and cited in the United States and abroad.
  • Co-Author of “Pigskin Prep: The Definitive Youth Football Training Guide”
  • Co-contributor to the ACL Preventive Program presented by Water and Sports Physical Therapy
  • Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10


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