Increased Athletic Performance in Lighter Basketball Shoes: Shoe or Psychology Effect?

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To determine the effect of shoe mass on performance in basketball-specific movements and how this affects changes if an athlete is aware or not of the shoe’s mass relative to other shoes.

Methods:

In an experimental design, 22 male participants were assigned to 2 groups. In the “aware” group, differences in the mass of the shoes were disclosed, while participants in the other group were blinded to the mass of shoes. For both groups lateral shuffle-cut and vertical-jump performances were quantified in 3 different basketball-shoe conditions (light, 352 ± 18.4 g; medium, 510 ± 17 g; heavy, 637 ± 17.7 g). A mixed ANOVA compared mean shuffle-cut and vertical-jump performances across shoes and groups. For blinded participants, perceived shoeweight ratings were collected and compared across shoe conditions using a Friedman 2-way ANOVA.

Results:

In the aware group, performance in the light shoes was significantly increased by 2% (vertical jump 2%, P < .001; shuffle cut 2.1%, P < .001) compared with the heavy shoes. In the blind group, participants were unable to perceive the shoe-weight variation between conditions, and there were no significant differences in vertical-jump and shuffle-cut performance across shoes.

Conclusions:

Differences in performance of the aware participants were most likely due to psychological effects such as positive and negative expectancies toward the light and heavy shoes, respectively. These results underline the importance for coaches and shoe manufacturers to communicate the performance-enhancing benefits of products or other interventions to athletes to optimize their performance outcome.

The authors are with the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Maurice Mohr at mmaurice@ucalgary.ca.