Plyometrics: three mistakes that increase your risk of injury

Mistake number 1:  Skipping the prerequisites

Plyometric training shouldn’t be done in isolation, but as part of a complete training program that includes strength training.  You don’t need to be able to squat a certain amount, but you do need to have a basic level of strength.     Athletes will be better prepared by focusing on functional single leg strength rather than overemphasizing thier maximum squat strength.

Also, before doing medium and high intensity plyometrics, the athlete must have proper landing mechanics.  If the knees cave inward when landing, more strength is needed.

Any athlete can begin with low intensity plyometric exercises but medium and high intensity plyos should not be done until the prereqs are satisfied.


Mistake number 2:  Too much volume

The volume of plyometric exercises that should be done first depends on the intensity of the exercise.  Low intensity plyos such as jumping rope, and warm up type plyos (like butt kicks and high knees) can be done in high volume.  The volume of moderate and high intensity plyometrics, however, must be monitored carefully to avoid too much stress on the joints and ligaments.

The general way to measure volume in a plyometric program is by ground contacts (how many times you land).  Even elite athletes do not exceeed 120 ground contacts of high intensity plyos per week.

The exact volume of ground contacts will depend on your training age (how often, how much, and how recently you’ve done plyometric work in the past) and the intensity of the plyometric exercises.

A very general guideline is to choose 3 appropriate exercises and perform 3-5 sets of 5 reps as a plyometric module that can be done 2-3 times per week.  Vary the exercises so that you are not doing the same exercise more than once per week.


Mistake number 3:  Improper progression

Doing high intensity plyometrics before adapting to low and medium level plyomtrics increases your risk of injury. Though a program may prescribe doing certain exercises for a certain number of weeks, the athlete should not progress to more complicated or intense exercises until the basics have been mastered.   Any other strategy is asking for injury. Athletes should be able to perform every exercises and reps with maximum intensity, good form, and body control.


Guidelines for Progression:

  •  Adapt to landing before doing multiple response jumping drills
  •  Double leg landings are less intense than single leg landings
  •  Single response drills (one jump and one landing) are less intense than multiple response (several jumps with minimal ground contact time) drills


 Examples of low intensity plyos

  • jumping rope
  • common warm up exercises (high knees, butt kicks, etc)
  • some that may be new:  prancing (looks funny but works on “popping” the hips), galloping

 Examples of medium intensity plyos

Examples of high intensity plyos



Final Thoughts

Many players don’t do any plyometrics for fear of injury. However, because ultimate does involve jumping, plyometric training is an important part of a training program to decrease injury risk by allowing your body to adapt to the jumping and landing demands the sport entails before the season begins.  If you are hesitant to add plyometrics to your training, start by adding low intensity plyometrics to your warm up routine.    Progress to a low volume of a few medium intensity plyometric exercises.


Related Posts:

Starting Plyos and Speed Work

Proper Progression in Plyos: Stick the Landing

Proper Progression in Plyos: box jumps


14 comments to Plyometrics: three mistakes that increase your risk of injury

  • pon

    We had two torn acls, a strained meniscus, and multiple instances of tendonitis this season. Just all around team full of shitty knees. After reading this, I may know the culprit. We had far more ground contacts per week than 120, probably closer to 300.

    • Crikey! That’s a lot of injury. Thanks for your comment. This is what I write for. To make a difference in the lives of our athletes and prevent unnecessary injury. As more teams start to take themselves seriously and train harder, they need more education. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll share this post on Facebook or wherever so more people see it. No team should have to suffer watching so many teammates and friends sidelined from the game they love.

  • Alan Janzen

    Good post on Plyos. I just posted this question to your panel before you answered it here! I don’t do plyos in season due to the additional stress on the body, mainly the shins for me, but as Pon mentioned, it can cause a ton of additional stress on the knees as well. Esp in women, when not properly performed, progressed, or prepared for.

    I have been on teams that placed plyometric activity in the warm-ups (not just skips, but repeat vertical jumps, star jumps, tuck jumps, partner hurdle jumps, etc.) and in between drills/scrimmages. If you’re going to do plyos in your programming, please make sure you have full recovery between sets and you are fresh when you perform them. Fatigue and high intensity plyometrics do not mix well in training.

    Just throwing in my two cents. Thanks again for the blog. This is great stuff!

    • Alan,
      Thanks for the praise and for adding your two cents! You couldn’t be more right about fatigue and high intensity plyos. I could see the utility of doing them right after warmups for a few weeks before the main season but definitely not later in practice. Thanks for stopping by the blog and for becoming a fan of Ultimate Results on facebook. Hope to hear more from you. 🙂

  • JM Morado

    GoodPM… i have a question about the progression of vertical jump training, how to apply a progression in a 3 weeks program of aquatic vs land plyometric program. this is for our thesis. Thank you. i’ll wait for your reply. thank you.

  • Dylan

    Will doing plyometrics during basketball season be too much? I have a short vertical (like 14) but have improved a little so far. Will it increase injury risk? Or when should I do them? I have practice on Mon, Tues, and thurs.

    • This is not really a yes/no answer. Pay attention to ground contacts and you should be alright. Also pay attention to progressions. Hopefully you did some strength training in the off season as well. That always helps!

  • Navroop Chahal

    Hi, thanks for this article. But I dont get what 120, 300 ground contact means like how long you are on tge ground or something. S can you please tell me the meaning of that please. THANK YOU for this article!

  • chris kuguru

    Thanks for the info…how can we exercise in water n get the benefits…without injuries….and lastly how to overcome lactic acid during a plyo…class thanks

    • Chris, doing plyos in water will not get you benefits in speed, quickness, or jumping. The whole point of plyometrics is to work on decreasing the ground contact time and speeding up the stretch shortening cycle in the muscle. So for this, you by necessity need a solid surface, not sand or water. If you are doing plyos, you should not be building up lactic acid in the first place. Plyo movements are very short in duration. They don’t rely on the same metabolic process that leads to acid buildup in the muscle.

  • Andy O'Hanlon

    Hi Melissa,
    Intersting read. The one that interests me is point 3. Improper progression. As a result, Ive injured my left knee. It feels weak but not sore. I’m afraid to do any heavy strength work or high intensity plyos on it. In your experience, does that sound like a ligament or tendon? And the associated recovery time?

  • Blair McClelland

    Would “120 ground contacts of high intensity” include practicing my jump shot and doing sprint training (on grass)? And is it possible to have more than 120 ground contacts if the plyometrics were done on grass?

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