B.A.S.E. Sports Conditioning – Articles 11
Jump to it?
Don’t try to rush gains in explosive power.
by Mike Mejia, CSCS
You use it every time you take a shot on goal, or stick check an opponent. Whenever you need that quick burst to break away from a defender, or win a tough face off. Not to mention the fact that without it, you’d never be able to stop on a dime and accelerate in different direction. I’m talking, of course, about that devastating combination of strength and speed that results in power. Sure, its great to be strong, but it’s the ability to apply that strength quickly that will ultimately help you stand out on the playing field. So, if it’s more power you seek, then read on, because there’s plenty you can do from a training standpoint to help make you more explosive!
Anytime you’re talking about training to increase power, the word “plyometrics” immediately comes to mind. A popular form of training ever since it was first introduced in this country back in the seventies, plyometrics have more recently infiltrated virtually every type of youth sports setting imaginable… and therein lies the problem. These days it’s not uncommon to see kids of various ages, and ability levels jumping up onto boxes, over hurdles and slinging medicine balls around, as well-meaning coaches and trainers coax them to go “higher” or “harder” with each subsequent repetition. So long as these athletes have:
1. spent adequate time training to develop the stability and strength needed to serve as the foundation for these movements,
2. have been thoroughly instructed on their proper mechanics, and
3. are carefully monitored to ensure that fatigue in no way compromises their ability to execute these drills with proper form, this doesn’t present a problem at all. I can tell you from experience though, that this is seldom the case!
Young athletes routinely rush, whether of their own volition, or due to the zeal of coaches and trainers, into plyometric training long before their bodies are physically ready. Once they do, breakdowns in form due to weaknesses somewhere along the kinetic chain (think knees that “pinch inwards” upon landing from a jump) wind up swinging the risk/ reward ratio of the training stimulus way out of balance. Factor in the fatigue build up that often results from doing too many reps and sets, often without sufficient rest, and you’ve basically got an injury waiting to happen!
Granted, not all plyometric drills carry with them the same degree of potential danger. Something like a simple line hop for instance, poses a lot less of an injury risk than say, a depth jump from a two foot platform. That being said, however, the vast majority of young athletes would be best served first working to establish a sound conditioning base by focusing on improving the unique interplay that exists between stability and mobility around key joints such as the ankles, hips and shoulders. Likewise, increasing core strength and knee stability should also rank near the top of the list prior to engaging in any type of explosive training whatsoever.
Even after you’ve done all of the prep work, though, there are still several guidelines you’ll need to follow in order to the most out of a plyometric program. That’s why over the course of the next several weeks, I’ll be outlining a detailed progression designed to help you safely and effectively achieve your goal of becoming more explosive. So, be sure to keep an eye out for the first installment on improving joint mobility and systemic strength, which will appear here shortly.