We live in an age of YouTube, and athletes are trying to do too much too soon, especially when it comes to plyometrics for beginners.
Instead of worrying about the proper mechanics required to land with force absorption, youth athletes are all too concerned about increasing the height of the box and length of the tape measure to show off on social media.
Contact sports are highly reactive and chaotic which means training should reflect the athlete's ability to change multiple directions in a given time. And while improving strength and numbers on the field is great, it does not matter how strong an athlete is if they are not able to control their own body.
Plyometrics are a way for athletes to express true power and speed, as well as prepare the body for the unknown on the field and court.
So what are plyometrics all about?
- Energy Transfer, elasticity, and efficiency
- Application of power and absorption of force
- Enhancing overall performance and reducing the risk of injury
When playing a sport, athletes will have to cut, plant, pivot, jump, sprint and stop at multiple times during competition. They will have to transfer force from one leg to another and perform twists and bounds all at a moment's notice. If an athlete is not able to control their own body position at a moment's notice, injuries can occur.
Common Mistakes With Plyometrics For Beginners
When a youth athlete begins plyometric training, there are often a few things coaches should consider before starting a program.
- Lack of core control and posterior chain activation to ensure the right start and finish positions
- Extreme cases of a valgus knee angle by shooting the knees over the toes or inside the hips when performing basic jumps, increasing the chance of injury.
- The inability to absorb force in a landing position and compensating to perform the jump
Looking at these common mistakes before they become major problems, you can set your athletes up for long-term success and reduce the chance of injury.
Jump Types and Planes of Motion
Because plyometric training can be complex, it is important to keep athletes and coaches on the same page when programming plyometrics. Mike Boyle came up with a system of classifications to minimize confusion and bridge the gap between the transition of jumps.
- Jump - A two-legged take off with a two-legged land (vertical jump)
- Hop - A one-legged take off with a one legged land (vertical hop)
- Bound - A one-legged take off with an alternate one legged land ( lateral bound)
Once you are able to understand the classifications of jumps, you can then move on to where the jumps need to occur. This is crucial for beginners because youth athletes need to understand how to move through all planes of motion in order to succeed.
Vertical Plane: Jumping in place as high as possible. These include in Place Jumps, Box Jumps and Squat Jump progressions.
Linear Plane: The goal here is to jump as far as possible. These are your Long Jump progressions.
Lateral /Rotational Plane: Jumping as far as possible from side to side and the ability to switch directions. These are your Heidens and your change-of-direction jumps.
Choosing the Right Volume and Intensity for Beginners
Volume for beginner athletes should be kept between 18-30 reps total, and each jump should fall between 3-6 reps per set. The emphasis with beginners should be on learning how to absorb force and drilling mechanics.
Here are some basic progressions you should be including with beginner athletes.
Vertical Jumps: Snap Downs, Jump in Place, In-Place 1-Legged Hop, Depth Drop, Box Jump, Squat Jump, Tuck Jump
Linear: Hurdle Jumps, Long Jumps
Lateral: Heiden, Crossover Jumps, Rotational Box Jumps
Simple Template For Beginners
Phase 1 (4weeks): 5x3, 4x4, 5x3 5x2
|Day 1||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4|
|In Place Vertical Jumps|
|Med Ball Stomp to Floor||5x5||4x5||4x4||3x4|
|Recoiled Med Ball Stomp to Floor||5x3||4x3||4x4||3x4|
One of the biggest mistakes we can make as coaches is doing something too soon for inexperienced athletes. Rather than trying to program the most difficult drills, the primary goal of a program for beginners should be complete safety and focus on proper mechanics. If we set a baseline for youth athletes at the start, we can reduce the chance of injury and set up our athletes for long-term development.
- The 10 Best Plyometric Exercises for Athletes
- 5 Ways Athletes Do Plyometrics Wrong
- The Biggest Mistake in Youth Strength Training Programs
- Parents: Why Your Youth Athlete Needs to Strength Train