The assessment of vertical leg stiffness is an important consideration given its relationship to performance. Vertical stiffness is most commonly assessed during a bilateral hopping task. The current study sought to determine the intersession reliability, quantified by the coefficient of variation, of vertical stiffness during bilateral hopping when assessed for the left and right limbs independently, which had not been previously investigated. On 4 separate occasions, 10 healthy males performed 30 unshod bilateral hops on a dual force plate system with data recorded independently for the left and right limbs. Vertical stiffness was calculated as the ratio of peak ground reaction force to the peak negative displacement of the center of mass during each hop and was averaged over the sixth through tenth hops. For vertical stiffness, average coefficients of variation of 15.3% and 14.3% were observed for the left and right limbs, respectively. An average coefficient of variation of 14.7% was observed for bilateral vertical stiffness. The current study reports that calculations of unilateral vertical stiffness demonstrate reliability comparable to bilateral calculations. Determining unilateral vertical stiffness values and relative discrepancies may allow a coach to build a more complete stiffness profile of an individual athlete and better inform the training process.
Sean J. Maloney, Iain M. Fletcher, and Joanna Richards are with the Institute of Sport Science and Physical Activity Research, University of Bedfordshire, Bedford, United Kingdom.