On the surface plyometrics are all about force production. For young athletes they are a great way to learn to produce force, apply it into the ground and propel their body in a new direction.
The overlooked part of plyometrics, that needs to be considered is the role of force absorption in an athlete’s development.
If athletes never had to land, or never had to stop there wouldn’t be as many injuries. Plain and simple. Almost 70% of knee injuries occur from non-contact movement. A great percentage of those injuries occur in change of direction movements or landing.
These types of stats should raise our eyebrows and make us look not only at force production but at force absorption. We must prepare our athletes for landing, otherwise plyos are like equipping your your young athletes with a bigger motor, but no brakes.
Applying the brakes to plyos can be done simply by using a progression of multi-planar jumps. Young athletes should do each jump at a high intensity and then “Stick” the landing for 3-5 seconds.
This progression is appropriate for athletes of nearly all ages, and will be challenging to young athletes of all ages.
Top 4 Plyo Exercises
Learn more about power exercises for athletes by viewing our top 4 plyo exercises free video series. You’ll have no trouble progressing your athletes to new levels of performance.
Endurance training and young athletes is an often-misunderstood topic. On one hand, there are strength coaches who tend to disregard developmentally sound elements of endurance training in lieu of producing stronger and faster young athletes via strength and power type exercises exclusively. On the other hand, there are over-zealous coaches and trainers who equate endurance to long distance/duration activities, often with little regard for the athlete’s stage of development, ability or current level of conditioning.
Endurance can be defined quite simply as one’s ability to withstand fatigue or the ability to control the functional aptitude of movement while experiencing external stress. The latter definition lends itself well to the concept of athletic development and training young athletes. As I have stated many times in both print and lecture, when working with youngsters, the key ingredient to producing a successful training program is the ability to recognize that quality of execution is profoundly more important than quantity. Having said that, I still see coaches, trainers and parents opting for more difficult training sessions that include high volume or high intensity activities rather than concerning themselves with how correctly the exercise is being performed. Poor execution results in habitual patterns that are difficult to break and could result in injury. With respect to endurance training, proper mechanics are often compromised for higher volumes or intensities and this is very much a mistake.
One thing to consider is that the term ‘endurance’ has application to varying lengths and types of effort:
• Long slow distances – efforts of limited intensity but high distance or time
• Speed – efforts typically lasting 15 – 45 seconds with high levels of intensity but obviously limited time or distance
• Muscular – the ability to sustain a muscular contraction for a prolonged period of time
There are several factors to consider with respect to the development of endurance in young athletes:
Most professional Trainers, be them Fitness Gurus or Sports Performance Experts, may not ever take the time to realize that much of what we hold true and dear in our pursuits of enhancing both the health and ability of young athletes, also translates to the world of business and life as well.
Perhaps this lack of ‘connecting-the-dots’ between the two is more than just something that has been overlooked – it’s because the values on which we pride our work with young athletes is far too limited in scope to be accurate.
Let me explain that.
Our industry holds strong to the notion that short-term, ‘work ’em hard’ training situations that involve high intensity on everything and a slow, methodical infusion of skill on nothing, is what best serves young clients in their need to get better (faster, stronger etc) now.
But how often does this gun-slinging approach to life or business prove successful? And can we take lessons from that as it relates to developing young athletes in Youth Sports Training?
How many times do we become handicapped by vein, unplanned and quick attempts to overhaul our businesses or restructure our lives in short periods of time?
Think about it. How many New Year’s Eve goals for the impending year have you set (be them business or life alterations) only to find yourself exactly where you were in November come March?