Today’s guest is Dr. Donald Chu, performance coach and physical therapist, as well as legendary track and field coach at UC Hayward in the 1980’s. Dr. Chu wrote the landmark book “Jumping Into Plyometrics”, which was one of the first in my own bookshelf that I had even in high school. The special exercise of doing a depth jump into a basketball dunk was one that inspired many creative variations of my own doing and with my athletes.
Dr. Chu has developed an extensive reputation in the field of sports rehabilitation and in the areas of fitness and conditioning. He has been credited with bringing “Plyometric Training” to the attention of the athletic world through his application of theoretical knowledge into practical demonstrations.
I’ve heard from more than one experienced track coach in the last few years just how successful Dr. Chu’s jumpers were at UC Hayward, and I was very excited to ask him questions regarding his training methods. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it is that “if a method works, it works”, and the science will eventually catch up with it. I think there is a lot of gold that came out of the 1980’s in training and coaching that we are missing out on today. If you just look at some of the national and state record books, you can see so many outstanding performances from this era, despite all the “training advances” we have gone through.
On the show today, Dr. Chu and I talk about quantifying and implementing plyometrics, jump training, Russian training methods, keystone workouts, and much more. For anyone interested in defying gravity, as well as paying respect to the prime training methods of decades past, this is an amazing show.
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- Donald Chu’s background in the field
- How Dr. Chu learned plyometric training and integrated it into his first works
- Aspects of Dr. Chu’s plyometric program
- Weightroom approaches for training jumpers
- Periodization and the approach to ground contact time in plyometrics throughout the training season
- Ordering of strength and plyometric work in terms of emphasis in the yearly, and multi-year plan
- Important benchmarks Dr. Chu wanted athletes to accomplish in training in the jumps
- Training athletes in single vs. double leg jumping
- Chu’s favorite strength exercises for sprinting and jumping that have fallen out of style
“The Russians had an absolute philosophy; we will be stronger than you”
“What I challenged the kids with on plyometrics was not the normal things people look at, our training was based off of how fast can you be off the ground
“I felt like quarter squats were fairly transferable to the high jump event”
“I had some (high jump) kids where we had 700lb marks in the safety racks, where they were able to quarter squat that much”
“We would do some box drills, set up some 18 inch boxes, and put then so far apart, and put a switch mat in between. When the athlete hit the switch mat and then went to the next box, we’d have a recording of the ground contact time”
“One of the things I did with my (high) jumpers was time their approaches”
“I would want my jumpers to complete a workout with 5x100m bounding, sustaining good technique”
“My advice to a basketball player would always be land on two legs, don’t try to land on one”
“High jump we tended to do more single leg bleacher jumps”
“One of the tests Russians used to assess sprinters was the 25 meter single leg hop for speed”
“Once you get better at a single leg bound, look what happens when they push off the mound when they throw”
“It’s not about getting up in the air, it’s about getting across the ground, and its that concept, when kids start to realize that there are vertical and horizontal components to everything they do, they start to differentiate between the two”
“I saw two international level triple jumpers bang out sets of 10 razor curls like it was nothing”
“I see a lot of kids with patella-femoral syndrome, knee pain. I’ve rehabbed those by strictly working the posterior chain”
About Dr. Donald Chu
Dr. Chu has developed an extensive reputation in the field of sports rehabilitation and in the areas of fitness and conditioning. He has been credited with bringing “Plyometric Training” to the attention of the athletic world through his application of theoretical knowledge into practical demonstrations. Dr. Donald Chu has published six books, (including “Jumping into Plyometrics“, now in its 2nd edition), written articles in referred journals and contributed chapters in many other books. His lectures on Plyometrics and other topics in Sports Medicine have been heard throughout virtually every state and many foreign countries over the past decade.