To develop more explosive and powerful athletes we all (should) use plyometrics.
But here's the thing: They can be dangerous!
And they should be taught using a specific progression. The progression I think makes the most sense is one I learned from studying Vern Gambetta. The problem is that a frightening number of coaches do it ass backwards and therefore should be asked never to work with another child again.
More specifically, underqualified coaches like to start their athletes off by doing the exercises that have the highest nervous system demand, highest training stress and require the largest training base. This means ONLY the most advanced athletes should be attempting them. They are entirely inappropriate for beginner athletes. What constitutes a beginner athlete? Any athlete that has not satisfactorily moved through the progression I lay out below. So the LAST types of plyos any coach should be 'teaching' their athletes are shock jumps, also known as depth jumps.
These exercises consist of jumping down off of boxes and/or doing rebound jumps over hurdles placed at mid thigh height or higher. Recently I was out at a facility and witnessed a coach doing possibly the most incredible thing I've ever seen. If I didn't know better I'd think some coaches purposely try to hurt kids. We can't keep handing culpability off like a hot potato.
But I digress…. This human had his athletes jump up onto a 24" plyo box. Then jump UP off the plyo box, attempt
to catch a medicine ball that was tossed higher than the athlete's head and then attempt to land holding the med ball. Then repeat.
Unbelievable. Maybe these were advanced athletes, you say. No. They were high school sophomores, I'm told.
There's more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to coaching philosophy. But that kind of approach is just wrong. Is it even debatable? Some people reading this are nodding their heads in agreement. Others are ashamed because they're doing shock jumps with young kids who have a training age of 1 or 2.
So to avoid any more additions to the epidemic of sports injuries created by less than stellar coaching methods, here is the progression of plyos that I believe should be followed. If you have a better way, I'd love to hear it below.
Don't let your athletes move on to the next level of plyo until the meet the standards of the more basic movement.
To see these progressions taught and performed
correctly, check out Complete Jumps Training.
1. Landing – Goal is to teach proper foot strike, use of the ankle, knee and hip and absorb shock.
2. Stabilization Jumps – Goal is to reinforce landing technique and increase levels of both eccentric and stabilization strength
3. Jumping up – Goal is to teach takeoff action and proper use of the arms.
4. In Place Bounding – Goal is to teach quick reaction off the ground as well as vertical displacement of the center of mass/gravity
5. Short Jumps – Goal is to teach horizontal displacement of the center of mass/gravity
6. Long Jumps – Goal is to add more horizontal velocity. (Most athletes will not progress past these movements in the first year of specific training. Even if taught a proper progression such as the above!)
7. Shock Jumps– The last form of plyo that should be taught and certainly not something that athletes should be doing during preseason or the early preparation periods.
So there you have the truth about how plyos should be taught and a little taste of what your kids' coaches are doing to them. Am I crazy? Am I the only one witnessing these truly dangerous coaching practices? Is there anyone willing to admit that they're doing it wrong?
Is there a solution to this pandemic lack of modern day coaching knowledge? Should I just stop complaining and only worry about what I can control?
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