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LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning

Speed development - plyometrics

Sport analysis

The first factor to consider is the basic movement patterns common to the sport. For example, the common fundamental and sport specific skills of the sport of Rugby already identified include:

  • Squat patterns including jumps, landing patterns, slowing down patterns.
  • Lunge and step patterns including acceleration and change of direction and agility patterns.
  • Bend and return to the power and sprint and run posture
  • Turning and twisting including rotation and deceleration in rotation
  • Balance including what postures and positions that are held briefly such as isometric positions

Knowing the common movement patterns that exist within the sport is the first step in a sport analysis approach. Choosing exercises that mimic the common FMS and then the fundamental sport skills (FSS) will guide the coach in the selection of an exercise.

For example, the following sequence of 5 jumps may be appropriate for the young Rugby player who has started an AA programme and who has a normal ROM about ankle, knee and hip joints.

Double leg hop over 15cm cone and stick to land

Learn to take-off and, more importantly, land with soft knees and aligned knee and foot

Double leg jump up to bench (20cm) and stick to land

Learn to land and balance

Line hop over and back

Learn to land and take-off from one leg. Ensure good landing alignment

Standing long jump with emphasis on landing

Learn to land while jumping horizontally from two legs. Landing is again soft and knees and feet are aligned

Drop from 10-20cm and land soft and then jump vertical - double leg

The drop height is relatively low, thus reducing the landing forces

Table 1. Sample beginner programme of mainly double leg jumps and landings for the player. Note then emphasis is to train soft and aligned landing technique.

The programme in Table 1 could be implemented over the first 2-3 weeks of an AA programme in conjunction with other AA exercises and drills. The guidelines as noted by Johnson et al (2011) for volume of ground contacts can be used. The guidelines following Johnson’s review of the literature for children and young athletes is presented in Table 2 below.

Units per week

For those who may find plyometric drills challenging, one unit a week is recommended. The majority of children will be able to tolerate two units a week

Jumps per unit

Between 50 and 60 jumps per unit for first 3 weeks

Progression of volume of jumps

Increase load gradually. The following guidelines are suggested. Increase jumps per week by 10

Duration of programme

From 4 weeks to 10 weeks has been shown to be effective

Selection of jumps/plyometric exercises

See text for more detail

Table 2. Guidelines for devising plyometric training programme for children (modified from Johnson et al 2011). Such recommendations may be suitable for adult beginners.

The next step is to have an understanding of the magnitude of force and reaction that the player undergoes during any given FMS or movement during play. Various authors have tried to provide guidelines in relation to the intensity of any given plyometric exercise (Chu& Myer 2013, Stone and O’Bryant 1987, Bompa 2000). Some have rated exercises based on low to high intensity. But any attempt to classify exercises by intensity is imperfect at best. Nevertheless, it is important to have some guidelines so as to provide a template for coaches to work from in designing such training.

Here is a simple yet informative intensity scale for jump training exercises adapted from a number of sources (Chu 1992, Chu & Myer 2013, Johnson et al 2011), see Table 3 below.


Jumps in place with soft and aligned landing about knees

Standing jumps over low cones or hurdles with soft and aligned landing


Multiple hops - both double and single legs for distance or height

Low jumps with a slow SSC rebound, bounding type strides - emphasis on form as opposed to ground reaction


Bounds with a high reactive force, box jumps with a short SSC action

Depth jumps and high impact 'stiff' reactive jumps

Table 3. Simple classification or scale for Jump training exercises, modified from Chu (1992). Ch & Myer (2013) and Johnson et al (2011). See below for further detail regarding actual intensity impact of exercises.

The guidelines indicated in Table 3 above are useful in helping us categorise low, medium and high intensity type jumps.