Monday, March 9, 2009

Young Athletes And Plyometrics

A parent asked me yesterday about plyometrics for young athletes....along with speed training, plyometrics is probably the hottest topic out there in sports fitness training.....

Memo to parents and youth league coaches---JUST RELAX AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH! Decreasing the risk of injury is a huge part of sports fitness training....80% to 90% of the young athletes I take on as clients have low back pain brought on by "TOO MUCH TRAINING LOAD TOO SOON!"

Plyometrics (and other full speed power exercises) is not the place to start for young developing athletes! Building a strong strength foundation must be first---placing special emphasis on strengthening and stabilizing the core.

Power, or speed strength (how fast your muscles can produce force) is one of the best physical predictors of success in sports. Plyometric exercises help you to increase power. Strength training gives you the muscular and nervous system development needed to develop optimal power, so you shouldn't skip the strength training to do plyometrics.

Plyometrics represent high intensity training, placing great stress on the bones, joints, and connective tissue. While plyometrics can improve your speed, power, and performance, they also place you at greater risk of injury than less intense training exercises. Perform the exercises correctly before moving on to full-speed exercises. Jumping and landing techniques should be mastered.

Choose plyometric exercises that mimic your movements of your sport (transfer-of-training-effect).

Safety concerns during plyometric training are: quality footwear for the athlete, safe training surfaces (hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt should be avoided) and a program designed and supervised by a fitness professional.

Training progressions should follow this path:

a. Simple to Complex
b. Stable to Unstable
c. Body Weight Exercises to Resistance Exercises
d. Low Loads to High Loads

Signs of over-training in plyometrics include:

a. Prolonged foot contact with the ground
b. Lack of control
c. Decreased vertical height or horizontal distance
d. Longer rest periods are needed by the athlete

Train hard and safe!

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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  1. I heard a lot about plyometrics and it sounds convincing enough to try it.

  2. Jana, thanks for the comment and visit! Plyometrics does work but these exercises are high risk....your body needs to be ready for it....

  3. Hi there,

    Nice post.Thanks for sharing this useful information.



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