Plyometrics and Growth Plates

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Q: I had a question from a strength coach here regarding plyometric training and young athletes, so I thought I would shoot it off. Currently, these figure skating female athletes are 13 years old. They started with the strength coach here six months ago, working on foundational lifts (squat, clean, snatch, skip rope, jump squats, and some single leg stuff).

Another coach mentioned to their mother that they should be doing more plyometrics. Any opinions? My take based on previous reading is potential risk for growth plate injury, and that plyo’s should be used cautiously until growth plate closure.

A: I don’t think that there is anything wrong with plyos at such an age. Walking is plyometric, and sprinting is about the most plyometric activity you’ll find. The bigger issue is why not focus on something with more return-on-investment? About the only thing you’ll get from adding a lot more plyos in is an increased risk of overuse injury; they get enough jumping and landings on the ice, in most cases.

Most 13-year-olds are very weak and need to learn proper lifting technique to get ready for the day when they are ready to load the compound movements. Sure, SOME plyos have a place for such athletes, but you have to manage overall training stress; they aren’t going to be able to do as much as another athlete who is in the off-season.

Eric Cressey