Are Plyometrics a Good Idea for the Youth Athlete

Plyometrics have long been looked at as the Holy Grail of athletic preparation. The reasons for this are many; however, the two main reasons are the allure of being able to jump higher and run faster. The homeland of plyometrics is the old Soviet Union where the athletic training was very systemized and planned. An athlete would often be required to be able to squat twice his/her bodyweight before utilizing such a powerful tool as plyometrics. Not here in the U.

S., however. We want to eat the icing off the cake first and be able to jump higher and run faster tomorrow, not next year.

The allure of this "icing" is so great that you will see athletes as young as 5, 6, and 7 years old being placed in specific plyometric training programs. Because there is 'no evil external loading', these programs are considered safer for young athletes. This is very ironic, however, when you consider that at a minimum the force associated with jumping and landing is 9x bodyweight. When coupled with an improper programming protocol, you have a perfect picture for disaster.

For example, a 60 lb young athlete performs 3 sets of 10 jumps which equal 16,200 lbs of total force being exerted on his/her body. This high degree of force is exactly why plyometrics needs to be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Even knowing that, I am sure there will still be coaches and parents who insist upon entering their kids into plyometric sport development programs. In that case, here are key points to be aware of: 1. Plyometrics should not be done on a daily basis. Two or three times per week is usually plenty.

2. Plyometrics should be done in low volume sets, usually 3-5 repetitions per set. If your child is doing 10, 20, or 30 jumps per set, he/she could be overtraining or, worse, inviting injury.

So if plyometric aren't the answer to turning your son or daughter into the next Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, or Michelle Wia. Then what kind of training should your youngster be getting to guide them in their athletic development. Well for the answer for to that we need to return the good 'ol USSR format.

They really knew what they were doing, when it came to athlete development, their concept was to start general and then move toward specific training as the young athlete developed. With the goal of exposing the young athlete to many different types of training this allowed for a great overall development in many different movement patterns and activity. Ultimately result in well round athlete, that once inserted in to a specific training regime, would truly excel. Contrarily the trend here in the USA particularly during the new millennia is for these young athletes to start specific at a very early age. Too early in fact, which in many cases will lead to burnout, overuse, and quite possibly injury; all which are results that I am quite sure none of us want to see.

The message that I would really like you to take away is that just because an activity uses only bodyweight doesn't mean that strong forces aren't involved. Remember, sometimes we need to eat our vegetables before we get to the cake and, best of all, the icing on top. Copyright (c) 2008 Anderson Training Systems.

Troy M. Anderson is the owner of Anderson Training Systems, LLC, a fitness coaching business based in Tempe, Arizona. Troy is often referred to as "the MacGyver of coaching" for his unique ability to build effective fitness programs using only the most basic equipment. For more articles and instructional video , visit http://www.atscoaching.com Fitness Ain't Pretty-RESULTS ARE!

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