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3 Tips To Improve The Power Of Young Athletes

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3 Tips To Improve The Power Of Young Athletes

One of the most important factors when determining if your child is going to be a successful athlete is assessing their explosiveness and power. In a lot of cases when watching youth sports, it's the children who've had an early growth spurt that will dominate over the competition.

Everyone has seen that kid who was two heads taller than everyone else and no one could event get near, but as the years went by, they no longer have that power advantage, and all the other kids catch up. The question is, how do you harness the advantage and begin developing those levels of "unfair" power and explosiveness from an early age?

Step 1

  • The first step is developing a level of coordination, motor control and body awareness that is often overlooked and forgotten about when beginning with youth athletes. It's all well and good to try rush someone under a barbell and get them lifting as much as they can straight away, but in the long run they're going to have to take lots of steps backwards and relearn all the flaws they've learnt from an early age.
  • The advantage of starting strength and athletic development training earlier is that you have time to focus on technique and challenge their focus, coordination and problem-solving skills through basic pushing, puling, isometric holds, reactive and humping tasks. This in turn will develop their ability to process new information and sequence movements together, stringing together more complex tasks.

Step 2

  • The second step is to begin loading the movements that they have become proficient in without any weight. Once your young athlete can squat, hinge, push, pull, land and maintain core positioning with their own body weight, it's time to start loading these movements with some resistance. The loading will continue to reinforce good positioning and posture but also start developing their strength and muscle mass. During their early adolescent years, your young athletes will naturally develop these traits on their own, however this growing process can be used to further enhance these gains and progress can begin occurring at a rapid rate.

Step 3

  • The final step is to start incorporating power based movements to develop the explosiveness that will set them apart from the opposition. An easy introduction includes using medicine ball throws and slams, plyometrics, jumps and band assisted movements.
  • This will get your athletes moving fast and teach them how to use their most explosive joints and muscles efficiently to produce force in the appropriate direction. Further progression can occur using Olympic lifts, weighted jumps and resisted explosive movements, which again gets your athletes moving excess weight quickly making their own body weight feel easy. This phenomenon can be harnesses most efficiently using the contrast training method.

The Contrast Training Method

This method gets your athletes operating at all points of the force velocity curve. The force velocity curve states that as the necessary force required increases (absolute weight moved eg: kg on bar) the resulting velocity of the movement will decrease. Therefore if you try to lift something heavy you won't be able to do it quickly. However, in the short period following the heavy lift, your central nervous system is still prepared for that type of loading and so is operating at a higher level than normal. So, if you move your own body weight or a lighter weight using similar muscles and joint angles immediately after, you'll be able to do it a lot more explosively than if you were unstimulated.

This phenomenon is called post activation potentiation, and when trained regularly can result in increased explosiveness and power.

Examples of Contrast Training

Complete each exercise one after each other with approximately 30 seconds rest between exercises and 2-3 minutes between sets. 3-4 sets of 3 reps each.

Lower Body (vertical: knee dominant)

  • 1A - back squat (85% 1RM)
  • 1B - trap bar jumps (30% 1RM)
  • 1C - box jump
  • 1D - band assisted jumps

Upper Body (horizontal push)

  • 1A - bench press (85% 1RM)
  • 1B - Plyometric push up
  • 1C - Med ball laying chest pass with catch
  • 1D - Band assisted clap push ups

For more help and guidance to improve your overall sports performance, get in touch with us.

Matt Hucul
Junior Strength Coach
Inner Athlete (AUS)

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