Almost without exception, every ‘sport-performance training center’ and youth sporting association in North America both markets and incorporates some degree of plyometric conditioning into the routines of the athletes they manage. More often than not, the trainer or coach prescribes an unintelligible series of jumping exercises and can be seen either holding a clipboard and a stop watch as they count and record the number of jumps or foot contacts a young athlete makes within a certain period of time, or barking out commands to the young athletes ‘jump higher’. Plyometric training has become such a ‘catch-phrase’ in the vernacular of trainers and coaches that it is often marketed as a sole measure of distinction for a training facility or individual coach/trainer. Do you know how many sporting clubs, for instance, have told me that they would love to have their young athletes train at my facility, but their Director of Coaching has a ‘plyometric class’ that he/she hosts every week and that’s all the conditioning they need?
Plyometric training has become watered down in North America to such a level that now even basic health clubs have introduced ‘plyometric jumps’ into their general group exercise classes as a means of achieving some measure of ‘high intensity’ training. Jumping and then abruptly stopping and holding a fixed position, jumping and then jumping again after a cursory pause or being taken through a series of jumping exercises without being taught proper execution of either the jumping or landing phases respectively are simply gross misappropriations of what plyometric training is or how it should be applied.
Spida Hunter is a one-of-a-kind trainer from New Zealand. He has worked with participants of all ages and abilities. I thought that you might all enjoy a glimpse into how things are done with young athletes on the other side of the world!
IYCA: What’s your background in youth sports and athletics? Have you worked with young athletes?
SH: I don’t specialize in youth sports or athletics however I do train young aspiring athletes that are looking to produce the best results and performance that they can achieve. I have worked with puberty (and post puberty) athletes which is a very influential age and a very important age not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well! I will also be training a 1st XV high school rugby team next season.
IYCA: There are a lot of coaches, parents, and even trainers who treat young athletes as if they were "little adults." What I mean by that is they will take the training routine of a superstar athlete and use it as a guide when working with youngsters. Why, if at all, should we warn them against that kind of training?
SH: I used to get very frustrated with the mentality of; this is what they do so you can too! However other then a selected few I truly believe now, is that parents, coaches and unfortunately trainers are actually doing what they believe is the best thing for the young athlete. This is what they know so this is what they hand down I do not believe that a parent, coach, trainer would purposely harm a child through training but unfortunately this is what they do when they treat the child as a "little adult"!