Plyometrics is a common type of exercise used to train basketball players. Some fitness professionals think plyometric exercises are a wonderful thing while others question their safety and appropriateness, especially for children. However, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise and the National Strength and Conditioning Association all support the use of plyometrics, provided they are done correctly, when participants have no injuries or special needs or restrictions. Of course you can consult with your doctor or an exercise physiologist if you have any concerns about whether or not this type of exercise is right for you.
Risks Associated with Plyometric Training
Like high impact aerobics, plyometric exercises can put excessive force on the joints and muscles. This concerns some fitness experts. Since adolescents and children are still growing and developing and their musculoskeletal systems may not be very strong or stable yet, they should be especially careful with high impact exercises.
People with arthritis, back injuries or other physical problems should be especially careful when considering plyometric exercise. To be safe, you should discuss the exercises you’re considering doing with your doctor or a physical therapist or exercise physiologist if you have any medical conditions.
Even healthy adults, even those that are relatively athletic, are advised to start out slowly when incorporating plyometrics into their workouts or training. It can be a good workout for more experienced athletes and especially good training for basketball players; it’s just important to do it safely. Fitness experts generally advise beginning plyometric training under the supervision of trained and experienced coaches, personal trainers or exercise physiologists.
When beginning plyometric exercises, start with simple techniques first. Things like hopping, skipping and jumping from the ground are good starting exercises. Make sure you warm up well first.
Make sure you have good shoes. Many experts suggest doing these exercises on the grass rather than on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete because grass provides a little bit of cushion that lessens the impact on your joints a bit.
It’s also important to take short rests between repetitions and to take breaks between training sessions. It may be best not to do plyometric exercises every day. Instead, alternate with cardio exercise and weight training. In fact, some trainers recommend getting a good foundation in weight training before beginning plyometrics.
Experts advise not trying a plyometric workout if you are tired because it will be more difficult to maintain proper technique. You should also stop immediately if you feel pain with any of the exercises. Be sure to consult with your physician if you have severe pain or pain that doesn’t go away in a timely manner.
Plyometrics and Children
The truth is, children and adolescents frequently engage in activities that could be considered plyometric exercises. Games like hopscotch and jumping rope involve the same types of movements involves in plyometric exercise. Children often enjoy activities like jumping jacks and skipping as well, which are also similar to plyometric exercise. Understanding this makes it seem safer and more appropriate to engage children in a plyometric training program.
As mentioned earlier, it’s best to begin a plyometric training program under the guidance and supervision of a qualified coach or trainer. Children should start slow and should stop exercising if they get tired or if something feels painful.
Plyometric exercise can even be good for children and adolescents because it helps develop bone strength and muscle strength.
Plyometric exercise can also be a great way for basketball teams to train if done correctly because they help develop speed, leg strength and coordination. These are all skills needed when playing basketball, of course. Just be sure to find a qualified coach.