gymnasts are vulnerable to growth plate damage

Especially male gymnasts, especially during the phase of “peak growth velocity”.

During that phase coaches are advised to reduce hard tumbling and vaulting. And be very cautious when the athlete reports pain near growth plates.

Gymnastics is a youth sport, so there’s more risk of growth plate damage than in most other activities.

Certainly there is a great deal of individual variation in growth. Many gymnasts are “late maturers”.

Those images are taken from an excellent report by Istvan Balyi & Richard Way, The Role of Monitoring Growth in Long-Term Athlete Development November 20 2009 (PDF)

Some conclusions:

Monitoring growth before, during and after the adolescent growth spurt is very important for coaches to be able to create an individualized plan to optimize athletes’ development.

• Growth measurements are needed to monitor growth.

• Plotting growth will help to identify the onset of the growth spurt

• Before the onset of the growth spurt standing height should be measured on every birthday, or at the beginning of the annual training cycle in clubs.

Most coaches are not doing this in 2011.

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