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Wendy A. Pethick, Holly J. Murray, Rob J. Gathercole and Gord G. Sleivert

This case study examines the longitudinal jump data of 1 male and 1 female world-class mogul skier over the course of a quadrennial leading to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Between-subjects standard deviation, smallest worthwhile enhancement, % coefficient of variance, and effect size (ES) were calculated from team jump testing taking place immediately preceding the 2010 Winter Olympics, as this was deemed the point in the quadrennial that the athlete group would be most likely near their best performance. These data were then used to characterize the progression of explosive power of elite mogul skiers over an Olympic quadrennial. Jump data for both the male and the female athlete showed trivial to large improvements in jump performance from Q1 (quadrennial year 1) to Q2, variable changes in performance from Q2 to Q4, and an overall improvement (small to large ES) from Q1 to Q4. Explosive power is a critical component of performance for moguls, and an analysis of the group data (Canadian athletes 2006–2010) shows that of all performance markers, jump testing is the variable that clearly delineates between World Cup and developmental athletes.

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Oliver Gonzalo-Skok, Julio Tous-Fajardo, Carlos Valero-Campo, César Berzosa, Ana Vanessa Bataller, José Luis Arjol-Serrano, Gerard Moras and Alberto Mendez-Villanueva

Purpose:

To analyze the effects of 2 different eccentric-overload training (EOT) programs, using a rotational conical pulley, on functional performance in team-sport players. A traditional movement paradigm (ie, squat) including several sets of 1 bilateral and vertical movement was compared with a novel paradigm including a different exercise in each set of unilateral and multi-directional movements.

Methods:

Forty-eight amateur or semiprofessional team-sport players were randomly assigned to an EOT program including either the same bilateral vertical (CBV, n = 24) movement (squat) or different unilateral multidirectional (VUMD, n = 24) movements. Training programs consisted of 6 sets of 1 exercise (CBV) or 1 set of 6 exercises (VUMD) × 6–10 repetitions with 3 min of passive recovery between sets and exercises, biweekly for 8 wk. Functional-performance assessment included several change-of-direction (COD) tests, a 25-m linear-sprint test, unilateral multidirectional jumping tests (ie, lateral, horizontal, and vertical), and a bilateral vertical-jump test.

Results:

Within-group analysis showed substantial improvements in all tests in both groups, with VUMD showing more robust adaptations in pooled COD tests and lateral/horizontal jumping, whereas the opposite occurred in CBV respecting linear sprinting and vertical jumping. Between-groups analyses showed substantially better results in lateral jumps (ES = 0.21), left-leg horizontal jump (ES = 0.35), and 10-m COD with right leg (ES = 0.42) in VUMD than in CBV. In contrast, left-leg countermovement jump (ES = 0.26) was possibly better in CBV than in VUMD.

Conclusions:

Eight weeks of EOT induced substantial improvements in functional-performance tests, although the force-vector application may play a key role to develop different and specific functional adaptations.

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Luke W. Hogarth, Brendan J. Burkett and Mark R. McKean

Purpose:

To examine the neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses to consecutive tag football matches played on the same day and determine the relationship between fatigue and match running performance.

Methods:

Neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses of 15 national tag football players were assessed before and during the 2014 State of Origin tournament. Global positioning systems (GPS) provided data on players’ match running performance, and a vertical-jump test and subjective questionnaire were used to assess players’ neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue, respectively.

Results:

There were small to moderate reductions in the majority of match-running-performance variables over consecutive matches, including distance (ES = −0.81), high-speed-running (HSR) distance (ES = −0.51), HSR efforts (ES = −0.64), and maximal accelerations (ES = −0.76). Prematch vertical jump was initially below baseline values before the first match (ES = 0.68−0.88). There were no substantial reductions in vertical-jump performance from baseline values over consecutive matches, although there was a small decline from after match 2 to after match 3 (3.3%; ES = −0.45 ± 0.62). There were progressive reductions in perceived well-being scores after matches 1 (ES = −0.38), 2 (ES = −0.70), and 3 (ES = −1.14). There were small to moderate associations between changes in fatigue measures and match running performance.

Conclusions:

Perceptual fatigue accumulates over consecutive tag football matches, although there were only marginal increases in neuromuscular fatigue. However, both neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue measures were found to contribute to reduced match running performance in the final match.

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Micah Gross, Kathrin Bieri, Hans Hoppeler, Barbara Norman and Michael Vogt

Introduction:

Supplementation with beta-alanine may have positive effects on severe-intensity, intermittent, and isometric strength-endurance performance. These could be advantageous for competitive alpine skiers, whose races last 45 to 150 s, require metabolic power above the aerobic maximum, and involve isometric muscle work. Further, beta-alanine supplementation affects the muscle force-frequency relationship, which could influence explosiveness. We explored the effects of beta-alanine on explosive jump performance, severe exercise energy metabolism, and severe-intensity ski-like performance.

Methods:

Nine male elite alpine skiers consumed 4.8 g/d beta-alanine or placebo for 5 weeks in a double-blind fashion. Before and after, they performed countermovement jumps (CMJ), a 90-s cycling bout at 110% VO2max (CLT), and a maximal 90-s box jump test (BJ90).

Results:

Beta-alanine improved maximal (+7 ± 3%, d = 0.9) and mean CMJ power (+7 ± 2%, d = 0.7), tended to reduce oxygen deficit (-3 ± 8%, p = .06) and lactate accumulation (-12 ± 31%) and enhance aerobic energy contribution (+1.3 ± 2.9%, p = .07) in the CLT, and improved performance in the last third of BJ90 (+7 ± 4%, p = .02). These effects were not observed with placebo.

Conclusions:

Beta-alanine supplementation improved explosive and repeated jump performance in elite alpine skiers. Enhanced muscle contractility could possibly explain improved explosive and repeated jump performance. Increased aerobic energy production could possibly help explain repeated jump performance as well.

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Nuria Garatachea, Zoraida Verde, Alejandro Santos-Lozano, Thomas Yvert, Gabriel Rodriguez-Romo, Francisco J. Sarasa, Sonsoles Hernández-Sánchez, Catalina Santiago and Alejandro Lucia

Purpose:

To determine the association of the ACTN3 R577X polymorphism with leg-muscle explosive power in Spanish (white) elite basketball players and controls.

Participants:

100 (60 men) elite basketball players (cases) and 283 nonathletic controls.

Methods:

The authors assessed power performance by means of the vertical-squat and countermovement-jump tests.

Results:

Genotype distributions did not differ between groups (cases: 37.0% [RR], 42.0% [RX], and 21.0% [XX]; controls: 31.8% [RR], 49.8% [RX], and 18.4% [XX]; P = .353). The authors did not observe any effect of the ACTN3 R577X polymorphism on study phenotypes in either group, including when they performed the analyses separately in men and women. They found no association between the ACTN3 R577X polymorphism and the likelihood of being an elite basketball player using the dominant or the recessive model, and the results remained unaltered when the analyses were adjusted for sex, weight, height, and age or when performed for men and women separately.

Conclusions:

Although the ACTN3 R577X is associated with explosive muscle performance and this phenotype is important in the sport of basketball (ie, during jumps), the authors found no association with leg explosive power in elite basket players or with the status of being this type of athlete.

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Kam-Ming Mok, Eirik Klami Kristianslund and Tron Krosshaug

Knee valgus angles measured in sidestep cutting and vertical drop jumps are key variables in research on anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury causation. These variables are also used to quantify knee neuromuscular control and ACL injury risk. The aims of the current study were to (1) quantify the differences in the calculated knee valgus angles between 6 different thigh marker clusters, (2) investigate the trial ranking based on their knee valgus angles, and (3) investigate the influence of marker clusters on the cross-talk effect. Elite female handball and football players (n = 41) performed sidestep cutting and vertical drop jumping motions. We found systematic differences up to almost 15° of peak valgus between the marker sets in the drop jump test. The Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient varied from .505 to .974 among the 6 marker sets. In addition, the cross-talk effect varied considerably between the marker clusters. The results of the current study indicate that the choice of thigh marker cluster can have a substantial impact on the magnitude of knee valgus angle, as well as the trial ranking. A standardized thigh marker cluster, including nonanatomical landmark, is needed to minimize the variation of the measurement.

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Bruno Marrier, Yann Le Meur, Julien Robineau, Mathieu Lacome, Anthony Couderc, Christophe Hausswirth, Julien Piscione and Jean-Benoît Morin

Purpose:

To compare the sensitivity of a sprint vs a countermovement-jump (CMJ) test after an intense training session in international rugby sevens players, as well as analyze the effects of fatigue on sprint acceleration.

Methods:

Thirteen international rugby sevens players completed two 30-m sprints and a set of 4 repetitions of CMJ before and after a highly demanding rugby sevens training session.

Results:

Change in CMJ height was unclear (–3.6%; ±90% confidence limits 11.9%. Chances of a true positive/trivial/negative change: 24/10/66%), while a very likely small increase in 30-m sprint time was observed (1.0%; ±0.7%, 96/3/1%). A very likely small decrease in the maximum horizontal theoretical velocity (V0) (–2.4; ±1.8%, 1/4/95%) was observed. A very large correlation (r = –.79 ± .23) between the variations of V0 and 30-m-sprint performance was also observed. Changes in 30-m sprint time were negatively and very largely correlated with the distance covered above the maximal aerobic speed (r = –.71 ± .32).

Conclusions:

The CMJ test appears to be less sensitive than the sprint test, which casts doubts on the usefulness of a vertical-jump test in sports such as rugby that mainly involve horizontal motions. The decline in sprint performance relates more to a decrease in velocity than in force capability and is correlated with the distance covered at high intensity.

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Jay Hoffman, Nicholas Ratamess, Jie Kang, Gerald Mangine, Avery Faigenbaum and Jeffrey Stout

The effects of creatine and creatine plus β-alanine on strength, power, body composition, and endocrine changes were examined during a 10-wk resistance training program in collegiate football players. Thirty-three male subjects were randomly assigned to either a placebo (P), creatine (C), or creatine plus β-alanine (CA) group. During each testing session subjects were assessed for strength (maximum bench press and squat), power (Wingate anaerobic power test, 20-jump test), and body composition. Resting blood samples were analyzed for total testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, IGF-1, and sex hormone binding globulin. Changes in lean body mass and percent body fat were greater (P < 0.05) in CA compared to C or P. Significantly greater strength improvements were seen in CA and C compared to P. Resting testosterone concentrations were elevated in C, however, no other significant endocrine changes were noted. Results of this study demonstrate the efficacy of creatine and creatine plus β-alanine on strength performance. Creatine plus β-alanine supplementation appeared to have the greatest effect on lean tissue accruement and body fat composition.

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Sergej M. Ostojic

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute creatine-monohydrate supplementation on soccer-specific performance in young soccer players. Twenty young male soccer players (16.6 ± 1.9 years) participated in the study and were matched and allocated to 2 randomly assigned trials: ingesting creatine-monohydrate supplement (3 × 10-g doses) or placebo for 7 days. Before and after the supplementation protocol, each subject underwent a series of soccer-specific skill tests: dribble test, sprint-power test, endurance test, and vertical jump test. Specific dribble test times improved significantly in the creatine group (13.0 ± 1.5 vs. 10.2 ± 1.8 s; p < .05) after supplementation protocol. Sprint-power test times were significantly improved after creatine-monohydrate supplementation (2.7 ± 0.4 vs. 2.2 ± 0.5 s; p < .05) as well as vertical jump height (49.2 ± 5.9 vs. 55.1 ± 6.3 cm; p < .05) in creatine trial. Furthermore, dribble and power test times, along with vertical jump height, were superior in creatine versus placebo trial (p < .05) at post-supplementation performance. There were no changes in specific endurance test results within or between trials (p > .05). There were no between-trial differences in the placebo trial (p > .05). The main finding of the present study indicates that supplementation with creatine in young soccer players improved soccer-specific skill performance compared with ingestion of placebo.

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Ingunn Fjørtoft

This article is a contribution to the experience of testing motor fitness and exploring the EUROFIT test in young children. In the age group 5–7 years, the motor fitness tests showed strong dependency on age and a small dependence on sex. Body weight and height did not appear to have any impact on the test variables for this age group. The reliability test showed significant difference between test and retest in the plate tapping test only. The reproducibility was low in bent arm hang and flamingo balance, with coefficients of variation of 67%. Modest validity of the flamingo balance test and the standing broad jump test was confirmed with correlations of 0.43 and 0.52, respectively, by laboratory testing on a force platform. Factor analyses extracted 3 components, which explained 62% of the total variance, but no single component could explain general motor fitness. The EUROFIT Motor Fitness Test appeared to be applicable also in young children, but the reproducibility of two test items was questionable. Modification of test items was suggested to fit this age group.