Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.
There have been several instances in the past where we have had guests visit DSC to watch us train our athletes in large group settings. Many times Coaches will comment after the session about our plyometric component of program design. “Those aren’t true plyometrics are they?” and I will indeed nod my head in agreement. True plyometrics seek to take advantage of the Stretch Shortening Cycle using elastic energy stored in the tendons. This is accomplished with minimal transition time (.15-.20 seconds) between eccentric stretch and rapid concentric contraction. In other words, minimal ground contact! A quick stretch excites the muscle spindles (which act as neuromuscular stimulators communicating with the brain telling it how hard it must contract a muscle to overcome a load). We do progress our “jump training” into true plyometrics, but we don’t start there.
We have progressions in our Athletic Development Program and our first three phases are nothing more than tendon tolerance, jump training, or what Dr. Mel Siff would call Power-metrics. Each of these phases progresses into true plyometrics. During early progressions our goal is not to take advantage of the stretch shortening cycle, but to build a solid base of jump mechanics and eccentric strength. We use Single Overcoming (no stretch shortening), and Coupling (eccentric/concentric) jumps, bounds, and hops while landing on a box. The box is a “velocity friendly” mechanism that reduces the impact of the falling weight and the overall load supported. This decreases kinetic energy making the exercise more “user friendly”.
Kinetic Energy=1/2(Mass x Velocity)2
During our final three phases hurdles and min-hurdles are used to increase the velocity of the falling object (athlete), increasing kinetic energy and taking advantage of elastic recoil. Our progressions are designed to:
1.) Focus on Jump Mechanics
2.) Build eccentric strength/tendon tolerance
3.) Introduce an increase in velocity
4.) Introduce coupling/amortization mechanics focusing on eccentric/concentric pulses
5.) True plyometrics
It’s important to have progressions/regressions in program design NOT just for beginners, but also for the desired training effect that you are seeking as a Coach.
Training Effect= Means (exercise) + Methods
Do you want to load the athlete? De-load the athlete? Focus on mechanics? Taper or Concentrate the loads? Although the majority of our athletic development program focuses on broadening the base using power-metrics and various forms of “jump training”, the end goal is POWER in a well-structured, safe environment.