By: ATH Athletic Performance Director Frank Bourgeois, PhD
Frank Bourgeois, PhD in conjunction with Auckland University of Technology brings us insight on multidirectional jump tests and informs us on which tests are good predictors of change of direction performance.
Several sports require frequent rapid planned and unplanned changes in sprint direction. As such, performance in change of direction (COD) tasks is widely considered an important aspect of athlete development, particularly during the phase of ‘foundational training’. Thus, the training and monitoring of COD capabilities are common in strength and rehabilitation programs.
However, the use of traditional COD tests has recently received criticism, directing attention to using more sport-specific COD tests. Nonetheless there remains a need to assess performance in pre-planned anticipated tasks that mimic movements the athlete will experience in sport, particularly in rehabilitation settings. The practicality and reliability of jump tests make them attractive monitoring tools, and have been shown to be closely related to COD performance. Yet limitations exist. First, unilateral measurements are suggested over bilateral as most COD movements are usually single-leg. Second, being that COD maneuvers occur at speed in the horizontal plane, so should the jump. Lastly, due to the individual-specific nature of jump performance, jumps should be tailored to the individual over using absolute distances (i.e. box height in a drop jump).
APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM
Twenty-two men were asked to execute 180- and 45-degree COD tests. Next their leg-length was measured to set three individual-specific distances executed in a multidirectional jump (MDJ) test that involved a double-leg broad jump to a single-leg 45-degree jump.
All MDJ distances were found reliable, and successfully predicted performance in 180- and 45-degree COD tests.
The primary finding was the high correlation between MDJ and COD measures when horizontal/lateral jumps are individualized to leg length – and thus the MDJ predicting COD sprint times in affording prediction in two commonly used COD tests. Therefore, the MDJ may be used most effectively in settings that lack specialized equipment, space or time to enhance and monitor 180- and 45-degree COD performance.