Variability, or how a task changes across trials, may reveal differences between athletes of differing skill levels. The purpose of this study was to examine trunk and lower extremity (LE) single joint kinematic variability and intersegmental coordination variability in dancers and nondancers during bipedal vertical dance jumps (sautés). Twenty healthy females, 10 with no formal dance training and 10 professional dancers, performed 20 consecutive sautés. Single joint kinematic variability was assessed using mean standard deviation of angular displacement, and intersegmental coordination variability was assessed using angular deviation of the coupling angle between segments. Within the context of the standard error of measure, there was no difference in single joint kinematic variability between dancers and nondancers. Intersegmental coordination variability in the trunk was higher than variability in LE couplings for both groups. Dancers had lower intersegmental coordination variability than nondancers for LE sagittal, frontal, and transverse plane couplings, and sagittal plane trunk couplings. Trunk adjustments may be important for successful performance, but lower intersegmental coordination variability in expert dancers indicates a higher level of control. Trunk coordination and postural control may be important factors to investigate in skilled athletes.
Danielle N. Jarvis, Jo Armour Smith, and Kornelia Kulig are with the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.