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Finish First Insider, Issue #48
March 09, 2009
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Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.


Plyometric Training Guidelines for Children

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

One issue that is often raised regarding performance training and children or adolescents is the safety and effectiveness of plyometric exercises/training. There is research showing the benefits of plyometric training, when conducted in a safe manner under the supervision of a qualified coach. Plyometric training (also known as reactive training or “power” training) consists of training methods and/or exercises (in this case) designed specifically to maximize force generation in minimal time. Optimum performance in sports depends on the speed at which muscular forces can be generated (power).

Where do I stand on the position of plyometric training for children and adolescents?

I am often asked where I stand on this issue, and due to the amount of research that I have read, the attention I pay to detail, and the success that I’ve had using this type of training with children (with no reported injuries as a result), I most definitely stand in favor of plyometric training for children and adolescents. There are specific guidelines that need to be followed, and specific evaluations that need to be made to safely progress each athlete in this type of training. In this article, I will provide some of the general guidelines that I use and should be used by anyone wishing to use this type of training.

Are Plyometric Exercises Safe for Children?

Anyone who has ever observed or has children of their own realize that active children are constantly executing low level and even more advanced plyometric exercises and activities, such as jumping off the couch, jumping around the playground, running, hopping, hopscotch, ‘playing’ during recess, etc. Plyometric activities are naturally occurring and part of the development process of humans.

Plyometric training becomes an issue when a coach neglects to establish the necessary foundation of stability, force reduction training, strength training, balance training, isometric training, and integrated core training to allow for proper force transfer (reduction to production). Specific protocols must also be followed in order to prevent overuse injuries in children also participating in sports—careful exercise selection during in-season training and critical analysis of recovery strategies, nutrition, and general training foundation.

Guidelines for Starting a Plyometric Program

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), a plyometric training program or Reactive Training program should be:

• Specific (to the sport movements, to the athlete)
• Adequate Levels of strength need to be established
• Adequate levels of functional and structural efficiency of the Kinetic Chain need to be established
• Adequate levels of stabilization strength need to be established
• Develop stabilization before strength, and strength before power

Tips for Training Progression (Also according to the NASM)

• Simple before/to Complex
• Stable before/to Unstable
• Bodyweight before/to External Resistance
• Low Load before/to High Load
• Train Eccentric, Isometric, and Concentric muscle actions
• Train force reduction, then force production
• Goal is to maximize force output in minimal time (rate of force production)

Following these basic guidelines, I have had success incorporating plyometric training with athletes as young as 6 years old. One way to do this is by introducing low level activities during the warm up, both stationary and over distances of up to 10 yards.

Following the warm-up and technique instruction of the basics, bodyweight exercises are performed for general strength, coordination, etc., along with the rest of the components of functional integrated training. As the athlete progresses, contrast or complex methods may be used, such as going from executing a squat with a weighted vest to immediately executing a broad jump.

Through evaluation, I have found this to improve the plyometric ability of the children being trained. There are many ways to achieve similar results, as long as the child is carefully monitored for volume (preventing overtraining/overreaching imbalances) and the coach is educated about athletic development for children.

I’d like to also add that plyometric training for children can be dangerous if not carefully supervised and if not properly progressed (ie, trying to perform advanced exercises before the athlete is ready). I currently have athletes that came to me as a result of injury from other coaches not taking the time to learn how to effectively implement plyometric training with children and adolescents.

Plyometric exercises can also be dangerous if the proper general foundation is not established, especially if the child is normally sedentary and doesn’t participate in a highly challenging sport (or competes where a high level of fitness is necessary), and if the exercises are not performance on a safe surface or a safe environment.

For more information on plyometric training, you can call Jeremy at 412-787-5070.


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Motivational Quotes

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth
-- FDR

One's best success comes after their greatest disappointments.
-- Henry Ward Beecher

Everything depends upon execution; having just a vision is no solution
-- Stephen Sondheim

The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch
-- Jim Rohn



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Ice Hockey Optimal Performance Seminar

Ice Hockey Optimal Performance Seminar

Coming to Finish First Sports Performance in May 2009

The science behind performance training for ice hockey Programming for ice hockey (specific to position, age, gender) Optimal nutrition for ice hockey performance Mental strategies for ice hockey performance such as visualization, attitude, aggressiveness, etc.

More details to come soon...this is a must see seminar!


Thank You for Your Support

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at jhoy@finishfirstsports.com. Please visit www.finishfirstsports.com for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance
jhoy@finishfirstsports.com
866-468-2231
412-787-5070

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