Plyometrics: a new way to make champions
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco () - September 16, 2006 - 12:00am
When plyometrics first came along, it was an almost immediate way to improve your explosiveness, quickness and leaping ability literally by leaps and bounds. It was fine-turned by John Frappier, who observed the outstanding results that Soviet athletes were getting back in the 1970’s. After years of research and experimentation, Frappier came out with his own way of debunking a lot of myths about athletic training, and getting remarkable results in relatively shorter periods of time. Initially, the impression was that it was for huge, bulky athletes, like American football players, boxers and those who relied on strength and size.

"I think we’re starting to show people that plyometrics is for everybody," explains Bong Arroyo, business director for PlyoSports, the advanced plyometrics training center at the adidas SportsKamp at Fort Bonifacio. "And it’s not true that athletes get injured doing it. We have a system that gradually introduces athletes to this kind of training. What is unusual in the Philippines is that they expect athletes to be in peak shape all the time, without as much lead time to prepare."

Two examples of PlyoSports clients have recently made waves in international sports, and demographically, they aren’t the type of people who you think would be engaged in a supposedly strenuous kind of additional training.

Mia Legaspi is seven years old, our latest Junior World Golf Champion, winning the title in the Callaway Junior Worlds by maintaining a four-stroke lead going into the last round. Mia and her elder sister, Maan, started playing the game by watching their father Norman, a recreational golfer. They decided that it was what they loved to do.

Even though they were already competitive golfers, their father felt they needed an extra edge. He decided to send them to PlyoSports in addition to their skills training. There, they were introduced to stamina-building drills, and a specially-designed piece of equipment fondly called "the fan". It looks like a golf club, but the end where the clubhead should be is lined with blades that create wind resistance when it’s swung. Other exercises also increase the velocity of their hip rotation, added yards to their drives.

"Before, I just wanted to get through the last day, just to finish it, because I was so tired," Maan told The Star. "Now, I feel like I could still play eighteen holes after the last round."

"Now, the last day feels just like the start," Mia adds. Her newfound stamina was proven since many players her age tend to wilt and lose leads in longer tournaments. But this time around, in the dry California heat, she held on to win. "It felt really good, I couldn’t believe it, Mia giggles. I couldn’t believe I’m a world champion."

At the other end of the spectrum is Andrea Camaclang. Friday, as she is called by her friends and students, played for the University of the Philippiens and was a part of various national teams beginning in 1996. Although she had reached the pinnacle of her profession locally (having seen action in the Southeast Asian Games), she felt something was missing.

"I was looking at international play, and loved how tactical they are," the star midfielder revealed. "I wanted to make the great pass, do the things that lead to great plays, not just try to score for myself. But people didn’t appreciate that here."

After hitting a plateau, Friday decided to seek her fortune elsewhere, flying to the US to see if she could make it there. She bounced around from Penn State to University of Portland and a couple of other places, then tried her luck at semi-pro soccer with the Women’s Soccer Association (WSA).

"My boss was really nice to me. He allowed me to play," Camaclang recalls. "If I came to work early and finished early, I could go and practice. The problem was that the weather was colder, and I didn’t really start out in great shape. I was warming up the same way, and started to get injured."

Soon, the frustration started to set in, and Camaclang packed her bags and headed home. Back here, she took a job coaching at PlyoSports, where she could also train for free. But the possibility of one last hurrah on the pitch divided her attention. A visit from her sister’s sister-in-law included an invitation to visit Brighton, England, one of the hotbeds of soccer.

"We told her Friday, you can coach here if that’s what you want," Arroyo remembers. "But if you want to keep playing, then go for it."

Camaclang visited Brighton, which she describes as "The San Francisco of England", and discovered an overriding passion for their home team, the Brighton and Hove Albion Seagulls. To her surprise, the Seagulls happened to be on the last legs of their trials.

"I even wondered if I should go," said the diminutive veteran, who was three to five inches shorter than the other women who tried out. "And I was tired from the trip. But I said this was a great opportunity."

Thanks to her constant plyometric teaching and training, Camaclang had enough endurance left to impress the coaches. On Aug. 16, she received a letter from team manager Nici Rice, informing her that she had made the squad.

"They’re so nice," Camaclang elaborated. "I have an exchange arrangement with them. They’ll even train me to coach, so that I can help raise the level of play here in the Philippines. They’ve supplied me with manuals on how to run a football club, build a stadium, get sponsors, all the things I want for us here at home."

If Camaclang is lucky, she may even get to coach or manage a club there. After all, at 29, she may not play that much longer. But, with the boost of plyometrics, she’s already opened a very important door, and is now the first homegrown Filipino — male or female — to play in the English Premier League
* * *
Catch action from the NCAA and UAAP Final Four, and visit Olsen Racela at home on this week’s episode of The Basketball Show, tomorrow at 2 p.m. over RPN 9.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with