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Team Conditioning Systems:
In This Day And Age

Friday, May 13, 2005

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

In this day and age where athletes are always looking for a way to get an edge, a way to enhance their ability to compete a tool that is starting to gain a little more acceptance is plyometrics. Plyometric training, which has its roots in Europe, is the name given to exercises that there thought to link strength with speed of movement to produce power.

Which is generally the goal of most athletes, to create the ability to produce more power, which in turn helps them compete at a higher intensity, which if applied correctly will heighten an athletes chances for success.

Every team has to have a go to guy, a gut they can count on when times get rough; my go to guy in this realm is Dr. Donald Chu. He is thought by many to be the father of plyometric training. Dr. Chu is a man of great knowledge and his willingness to share his knowledge has gone along way in helping me make my athletes better. “Designing a plyometric training is an art form as well as a science, states Dr. Chu, “this manipulation of variables can either create a champion or foster an also-ran”. Dr. Chu goes on to say, “Any training program should begin with a period of preparation and move into time frames, or cycles with specific goals.” Once you get into the groove of training in this manner one thing you want to keep in mind, is to be mindful of the progressions. One problem that comes along with this tool is that some of the moves look very easy, but their intensity is often unmatched, and with this intensity, the risk of injury is prevalent. If you get hooked up with a person who doesn’t have a great grasp of the concept of Plyometric training you could be asking for trouble. Plyometrics are also a great way to decrease reaction time; it will help enhance the body’s reflex mechanism which in turn makes you faster.

There are all types of “trainers” and “training facilities” popping up all over the place, and in this day and age of “if you build it they will come” attitudes all facilities and training protocols aren’t the same. Case in point, I’ve seen people who call themselves trainers create programs that are still referred to as sport-specific, which in and of itself isn’t quite correct, since most skills performed while competing have many different applications and can be applied to many different sports.

I like to have my basketball players learn the game of tennis, the footwork is similar and it gives the athlete an opportunity to learn a different set of skills and most importantly it will give them time away from the game so that they won’t burn out. My football players are encouraged to learn a martial art, the discipline and the work that goes into learning that skill transfers very well to the football field, you learn to take on attackers and how to use their momentum against them, or you learn how to identify weaknesses in your opponent and how to most effectively and efficiently attack them.

Ok, so let’s say that you are an athlete that really isn’t in to cross training like that, my suggestion for a training protocol that will get the most out of you will really heavily on Plyometrics. Plyometric training is not a new concept; it is a concept that is gaining new ground though as a tool to help athletes become more powerful and more explosive. Plyometrics are a tool that we use to break up the weight training monotony and boy if it’s done right it could be the best workout of the week!

So, before you make the decision to incorporate Plyometric training into your protocol there are few things you must take into account, since plyometrics have many levels of intensity the first thing you want to consider is age. The stress placed on the body can be tremendous; it is highly recommended that athletes who have not reached puberty should not take part in a protocol that is of high intensity. Since the skeletal system and the nervous system have not fully developed there is no need to place the body in that type of jeopardy. In our facility, pre-pubescent athletes go through our protocol only to learn the components, concepts and exercises, that’s it. I have found that this tends to be just enough to put them ahead of athletes their own age who are not training like us, and also helps prepare the body so that once it does mature we no longer have to focus on the teaching component.

Older athletes have some of the same concerns, as far as how the body’s ability to withstand the rigors of this type of workout, but only because of there may be a pre-existing injury so use good judgment whenever you take part. And remember that success in this realm is all about the progression. The progression is all about not moving to a new exercise before your body is ready to do so, if you are asked to do a one-legged and you are having a great deal of difficulty keeping your balance, then you can’t be expected to move on the next move which would be doing it with dumbbells.

Our Plyometric protocol is performed twice a week and no more, we like our athletes to have plenty of time to recover between workouts and so we would rather ere to the side of caution on this one. Some of the things we stress as to not create an atmosphere for injury are, when ever we jump and land we stress that the athlete lands on their toes with knees bent, that way the shock of the landing will be dissipated throughout the body safely. Think about everything you are doing, the best way to stay injury free is to maintain proper technique, don’t do too much too soon, remember it’s all about the progressions. Work to stay on balance throughout the whole ordeal, and lastly have fun. Keeping these principals in mind you will not only have a great workout but it won’ seem as long.

Rutgers University Scarlet Raptor Sample Plyometric Workout

These moves can be done by athletes competing in pretty much any sport…

Two-Foot Ankle Hop - Stand with feet shoulder width apart, using only the ankles for momentum, hop continuously in place. Extend the ankles to their maximum range on each vertical hop.

Tuck Jump with Knees Up- Stand with feet shoulder width apart and the body in a vertical position: do not bend at the waist. Jump up, bringing the knees up to the chest and grasping the knees with the hands before the feet return to the floor. Repeat the jump immediately.

Tuck Jump with Heel Kick- stand with feet shoulder width apart and the body in a straight vertical position with arms at your sides. Keeping the knees pointed down (still in line with the body), jump and kick your buttocks with your heels. Repeat the jump immediately. This is a quick-stepping action from the knees and lower legs. Swing your arms as you jump.

Lateral Jump with Two Feet- stand with feet shoulder width apart. Swing the leg on the side that you are going to jump across the stationary leg. Swing the same leg out to the other side and jump in that direction as far as you can, landing on both feet. Then jump back to the starting position by reversing the process.

Do you have a fitness or conditioning question for Graig? Send it to If your question is used in an article, you will receive a free Team Conditioning Systems t-shirt.
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