Q: My question for you is, what kind of base phase do you use with a young football and basketball player who you have just begun training? Perhaps a phase of strength endurance and injury prevention before beginning a maximal strength phase?

Usually for a young athlete I would work on general strength with a forcus on exercises involving bodyweight, basic movement efficiency, and range of motion. Weak links are ALWAYS foundational to everything else, no matter what phase of training you're in and from an early age it's easy enough to determine general weaknesses. Some kids are slow and stout some are fast and flexible etc. Maximum strength is foundational to a lot of other stuff, so you gotta get the body prepared to develop maximal strength by ensuring orthopedic health.

Before you learn how to run you gotta learn how to walk and before you learn how to move with extreme speed, power, and proficiency you gotta be able to move in the first place so I have to ensure that people know how to move.

However, I really don't use distinct phases. Everything that's important is always worked on, but in varying proportions depending on many factors.

Q: What in your opinion is the most mistaken notion in sports training?

Probably the most mistaken notion in sports training is the idea that training, in order to be effective, must result in high levels of pain/fatigue/soreness. Essentially, you want to seek PERFORMANCE which is best accomplished my managing fatigue, not necessarily creating an excess amount of fatigue. In other words, the intensity and volume of WORK determines the training effect. That work does create some level of fatigue of course, but the residual fatigue from training should not be the focus. Here's one thing that can help.

In Supertraining, Mel Siff discusses the idea of cybernetic periodization. This is when the athlete’s own feedback is used to manipulate the training plan. The athlete judges his overall readiness by the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE), which is simply a scale of 1-10 (or 1-5 if you prefer) with 1 being least taxing and 10 being most.

The RPE scale would correlate to the psychological arousal state. Low-effort, completely non-taxing work would fall in the 1-3 range, moderate effort would be in the 4-6 range, and heavy work would be from 7-10. This provides a convenient tool for longer-term planning. Heres an example of a 4 week cyle using cybernetic periodization as your guide:

Week 1 5-6
Week 2 6-8
Week 3 8-10
Week 4 < 4
Week 5 start over with week 1

You can also use this the opposite way especially if you train all out each and every workout without any planned easy days. Simply grade the perceived exertion of a workout on a scale of 1-10. As you begin your workout you then have to decide how much effort are you having to put out in comparison to when you're really "on"? Rate the perceived exertion of a workout. A 10 would be easy with awesome energy level and a 5 would be fair. I would say if rapid progress if your goal if you can't give yourself at least a grade of 8 then you would be better off packing it up and skipping that workout for the day. Generally if your mind isn't ready to give it your all then neither is your body. On days like that any extra work is only going to be counterproductive. You'd be better off either resting completely or doing something very easy.

Often the biggest hindrance to the ability to make gains is ones stubborness to pack up and call it a day. There are plenty of lazy athletes and there plenty of athletes who go balls to the wall all the time. But rare is the athlete who does just the right amount without doing too much and even rarer is the guy who knows his body well enough to know when to back off and know when to push hard. This takes time to learn though. If in doubt though take it a little easier. 9 times out of 10 the bigger itch you have or the bigger itch you can create to get out and train the bigger your success will be when you do. Also 9 times out of 10, at least for a motivated athlete, if there's not a lot of motivation to get out there and get after it then there won't be much progress either.

Can you give me an idea of how you would set up a 10 week jump training cycle for a team of female volleyball players?

In this situation I'd use a cycle where where basic strength is emphasized first. Most young female volleyball players dont have a surplus of it. For the first 3 weeks I'd want to correct the imbalances inherent in the sport. Volleyball inerently relies on a 1/4 squat motion which can cause muscle imbalances that lead to knee injuries so I'd use exercises like step-ups, split squats, and regular squats all done deep to work the quadriceps through a full range of motion. This of course would be coupled with plenty of hip and hamstring work. Leg training would generally be done twice per week. I'd also use a lot of low intensity plyometric drills during this time such as hops, skips and bounds on one and 2 legs. Basically the first 3 weeks would be spent conditioning the body for what will come.

weeks 3 through 5 are the primary strength weeks. Some form of squat would be done 2-3 times per week at varying intensities for multiple sets of 2 or 3 reps.

During this time I'd increase the intensity of the plyometric drills but keep the volume really low on this to allow for strength gain from the squats.

weeks 6 and 7 are the high intensity plyo weeks, I'd use depth jumps and drop jumps, primarily, jumping off a box onto the floor with an immediate rebound and jump from various heights. I'd use this coupled with jump squats once per week to really focus on starting strength and acceleration. During this phase all other training is reduced to minimal levels. I'd squat once each week just to maintain strength and conditioning.

weeks 8 and 9 are taper weeks, the plyos are real hard and require rest to recover from and the gains from them won't really become apparent until the body has been given time to fully recover. I'd include a few sessions of lower intensity squatting and some low intensity plyo drills - Just enough squats and drills to maintain strength and conditioning, were not really pushing very hard at all these weeks.

During week 10 I'd test for improvements. As you can see, there's nothing very complicated about increasing vertical.

You need to increase strength, teach your body to apply it at high speed, make sure the body can move efficiently and proficiently, increase the strength of the stretch reflex, and then allow your body to rest from the difficult training needed to accomplish all these things. Throughout all this, you need to maintain strength and conditioning.

This is just an example of how I'd set things up for a team. If I were working with an individual the program would be much more individualized. Even with the team approach however, the average player should easily be able to gain 6 inches in vertical jump height with the above format.