Clean Run - March 2013 - (Page 64)

Foundation Jumping © CLEAN RUN Part 1 By Susan Salo The foundation jump work is largely based on plyometric exercises which are defined as jumping and bounding (among other things), movements that involve rapid eccentric (i.e., lengthening) and concentric (i.e., shortening) muscle actions. This type of training enhances explosive muscular performance. Fred Wilt (1920-1994), a highly respected track and field coach from the United States, first introduced the term plyometrics in 1975. The word can be broken into parts from its Latin roots: “plio” meaning “more” and “metric” meaning “measure,” thus implying measurable increases. The neural stretch receptors are muscle spindles found within the belly of a muscle. As a muscle stretches, the spindles send a message to the spinal cord to inhibit or control how much further the muscle can stretch. In essence, the muscle spindles are stretch-control regulators that communicate directly to the spinal cord about how much stretch is happening within the muscle and the speed of that stretch. The muscle’s coil, like a spring—as in when the dog loads his weight onto his hindquarter as he prepares for a jump—is absorbing the energy required for the coil’s release—as in when the dog actually lifts off the ground to jump. The low ladder grids (plyometric exercise), called straight-line equal-distance grids in my Foundation Jumping DVD, therefore, have two major ways to influence the forced increase in production of the required muscles: 1) Increase the speed at which motor units can be recruited, and 2) Increase the number of motor units activated during a given contraction—essentially what plyometric training accomplishes. 64 These exercises are widely used with well-documented success for all athletes that require explosive and quick motion, including our agility dogs. The low ladder grids have been a staple of the foundation jumping program right from the beginning. Unfortunately though, they are widely dismissed by many agility handlers as a nonessential portion of the dog’s athletic training, mainly due to the fact them thinking that “any dog can jump, therefore why would one need to dedicate time to training it?” Fair enough, but the difference is night and day. A dog jumping fallen branches and ditches while running free in the woods can navigate these obstacles with great ease, primarily due to two major factors: 1) The dog running free has total focus forward on his path, and 2) because of this focus the dog’s body responds quickly and appropriately. This is, however, not the dog we run with for agility. An agility dog rarely has the luxury of total focus on a task since he must divide his focus between task (obstacle performance) and handler information. And we must all admit that this information is often late, and we are often in the dog’s path obscuring his sight of Clean Run | March 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - March 2013

Clean Run - March 2013
Editorializing: Would You Treat a Dog Like That?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Knowledge Equals Speed! Teaching Verbal Directional Commands, Part 1
Power Paws Drills: Gnarly Rears
Ultimate Instructors: What Makes a Really Good Instructor?
Can You Handle It?
Head-Turning Turns, Part 3
The 10-Minute Trainer
Busting the Myths: Set Goals? Or Just Enjoy the Moment?
Out Spot Out! Five Required Skills for Successful Distance Work
Living Room Agility: Front & Rear Crosses
Nutrition for the Canine Athlete, Part 2
Puppy Agility Games, Part 1
Training with the Stars: Greg Derrett
The Judge’s Debriefing
Foundation Jumping, Part 1

Clean Run - March 2013