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  • Author: Sean J. Maloney x
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Sean J. Maloney, Iain M. Fletcher and Joanna Richards

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.

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Sean J. Maloney, Anthony N. Turner and Stuart Miller

It has previously been shown that a loaded warm-up may improve power performances. We examined the acute effects of loaded dynamic warm-up on change of direction speed (CODS), which had not been previously investigated. Eight elite badminton players participated in three sessions during which they performed vertical countermovement jump and CODS tests before and after undertaking the dynamic warm-up. The three warm-up conditions involved wearing a weighted vest (a) equivalent to 5% body mass, (b) equivalent to 10% body mass, and (c) a control where a weighted vest was not worn. Vertical jump and CODS performances were then tested at 15 seconds and 2, 4, and 6 minutes post warm-up. Vertical jump and CODS significantly improved following all warm-up conditions (P < .05). Post warm-up vertical jump performance was not different between conditions (P = .430). Post warm-up CODS was significantly faster following the 5% (P = .02) and 10% (P < .001) loaded conditions compared with the control condition. In addition, peak CODS test performances, independent of recovery time, were faster than the control condition following the 10% loaded condition (P = .012). In conclusion, the current study demonstrates that a loaded warm-up augmented CODS, but not vertical jump performance, in elite badminton players.

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Sean J. Maloney, Joanna Richards and Iain M. Fletcher

This study sought to compare vertical stiffness during bilateral and unilateral drop jumping. Specifically, the intersession reliabilities and force-deformation profiles associated with each task were to be examined. On 3 occasions, following familiarization, 14 healthy males (age: 22 [2] y; height: 1.77 [0.08] m; and body mass: 73.5 [8.0] kg) performed 3 bilateral, left leg and right leg drop jumps. All jumps were performed from a drop height of 0.18 m on to a dual force plate system. Vertical stiffness was calculated as the ratio of peak ground reaction force (GRF) to the peak center of mass (COM) displacement. Unilateral drop jumping was associated with higher GRF and greater COM displacement (both Ps < .001), but vertical stiffness was not different between tasks when considering individual limbs (P = .98). A coefficient of variation of 14.6% was observed for bilateral vertical stiffness during bilateral drop jumping; values of 6.7% and 7.6% were observed for left and right limb vertical stiffness during unilateral drop jumping. These findings suggest that unilateral drop jumps may exhibit greater reliability than bilateral drop jumps while eliciting similar vertical stiffness. It is also apparent that higher GRFs during unilateral drop jumping are mitigated by increased COM displacement.

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Rebecca Fernandes, Chris Bishop, Anthony N. Turner, Shyam Chavda and Sean J. Maloney

Purpose: Currently, it is unclear which physical characteristics may underpin the change of direction deficit (COD-D). This investigation sought to determine if momentum, speed-, and jump-based measures may explain variance in COD-D. Methods: Seventeen males from a professional soccer academy (age, 16.76 [0.75] y; height, 1.80 [0.06] m; body mass, 72.38 [9.57] kg) performed 505 tests on both legs, a 40-m sprint, and single-leg countermovement and drop jumps. Results: The regression analyses did not reveal any significant predictors for COD-D on either leg. “Large” relationships were reported between the COD-D and 505 time on both limbs (r = .65 to .69; P < .01), but COD-D was not associated with linear momentum, speed-, or jump-based performances. When the cohort was median split by COD-D, the effect sizes suggested that the subgroup with the smaller COD-D was 5% faster in the 505 test (d = −1.24; P < .001) but 4% slower over 0–10 m (d = 0.79; P = .33) and carried 11% less momentum (d = −0.81; P = .17). Conclusion: Individual variance in COD-D may not be explained by speed- and jump-based performance measures within academy soccer players. However, when grouping athletes by COD-D, faster athletes with greater momentum are likely to display a larger COD-D. It may, therefore, be prudent to recommend more eccentric-biased or technically focused COD training in such athletes and for coaches to view the COD action as a specific skill that may not be represented by performance time in a COD test.