Plyometric training for the youth athlete
In today’s blog post we will take a look at plyometric training and how it can be adapted to benefit the youth athlete. Some may have heard of the term plyometrics before and others may be totally new to it, so first of all, what is plyometrics?
What is Plyometrics?
Plyometrics, also known as jump training, includes exercises that rapidly stretches the muscles and then rapidly shortens it. It is a training technique used to increase power and explosiveness. It helps improves your fast-twitch muscles, vertical jump performance, leg strength, and agility. Plyometrics are designed to produce fast and powerful movements from your body. In addition, plyometrics training also aids in injury prevention.
Examples of Plyometric Exercises for Youths:
- Jump rope
- Jumping jacks
- Standing jumps
- Standing hops
- Squat jumps
Common games and activities such as hopscotch, jumping rope and jumping jacks can be characterized as plyometric exercise. This is because every time the feet make contact with the ground the quadriceps are subjected to the stretch-shortening cycle. Children should simply begin plyometric training with lower intensity drills and gradually progress to higher intensity drills.
The benefits of plyometric training for Youths
- Increase speed
- Develops power
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Transfer your ability into other exercises and sports
- Strengthens your fast twitch muscle fibers
The research behind plyometrics and youth training
There are a number of research papers based on plyometric training, widely supporting its inclusion in youth training programs. Recent research by Michailidis in 2013 took a closer look at preadolescent soccer players and whether or not they could benefit from plyometric training.
45 children all 10 years of age, were randomly selected into 2 groups. A control group who carried out regular sports training as usual and a plyometric training group who carried out the exact same sports training plus plyometric training twice a week including: hops, box jumps, skipping and ladder drills.
After a 12-week period. The plyometric training group had greatly improved in speed, jump height, leg strength, agility, and kicking distance.