Open Access Open Badges Research article

Metastability in plyometric training on unstable surfaces: a pilot study

Armin Kibele1*, Claudia Classen1, Thomas Muehlbauer2, Urs Granacher2 and David G Behm3

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Sports and Sport Science, University of Kassel, Damaschkestr. 25, Kassel 34121, Germany

2 Division of Training and Movement Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany

3 School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 2014, 6:30  doi:10.1186/2052-1847-6-30

Published: 17 July 2014



In the past, plyometric training (PT) has been predominantly performed on stable surfaces. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine effects of a 7-week lower body PT on stable vs. unstable surfaces. This type of exercise condition may be denoted as metastable equilibrium.


Thirty-three physically active male sport science students (age: 24.1 ± 3.8 years) were randomly assigned to a PT group (n = 13) exercising on stable (STAB) and a PT group (n = 20) on unstable surfaces (INST). Both groups trained countermovement jumps, drop jumps, and practiced a hurdle jump course. In addition, high bar squats were performed. Physical fitness tests on stable surfaces (hexagonal obstacle test, countermovement jump, hurdle drop jump, left-right hop, dynamic and static balance tests, and leg extension strength) were used to examine the training effects.


Significant main effects of time (ANOVA) were found for the countermovement jump, hurdle drop jump, hexagonal test, dynamic balance, and leg extension strength. A significant interaction of time and training mode was detected for the countermovement jump in favor of the INST group. No significant improvements were evident for either group in the left-right hop and in the static balance test.


These results show that lower body PT on unstable surfaces is a safe and efficient way to improve physical performance on stable surfaces.

Instability resistance training; Stretch-shortening cycle; Physical fitness test; Balance training