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Greater Core Endurance Identifies Improved Mechanics During Jump Landing in Female Youth Soccer Athletes

Kate Pfile, Michelle Boling, Andrea Baellow, Emma Zuk, and Anh-Dung Nguyen

Female soccer athletes are at greater risk for anterior cruciate ligament injury compared with males. Risk factors include altered landing biomechanics and diminished core neuromuscular control, measured using advanced laboratory equipment. There is a need for a clinical measure of core muscle function to better understand kinesiological factors within a female, youth athlete population. The purpose was to determine whether sagittal and frontal plane kinematics during a jump landing task differ based on levels of core endurance in female youth soccer athletes. Participants included healthy, female soccer athletes ages 8–17 years (M = 12.3 years, SD = 2.4 years), height (M = 1.52 m, SD = 0.16 m), and body mass (M = 46.0 kg, SD = 13.7 kg). A quantitative data descriptive laboratory study in a field-based setting was conducted. Sixty-six participants performed the side plank test for time to failure. Three-dimensional biomechanics were collected, and initial contact and peak trunk, hip, and knee joint angles were identified during the deceleration phase of a double-leg jump-landing task. The group with the lowest side plank time displayed decreased knee flexion at initial contact (p = .02) and peak knee flexion (p = .03) and decreased peak hip flexion angles (p = .01). There were no additional statistically significant differences among groups (p > .05). Female youth soccer athletes who have reduced core endurance also display decreased hip and knee flexion, which may place them at risk for anterior cruciate ligament injury.