The goals of this investigation were to characterize gender differences in step-close (SC) and no-step (NS) countermovement jumps, examine biomechanical differences of the lead leg (LL) and trail leg (TL) during the SC jump, contrast the LL and TL of the SC to those of the NS jump, and determine whether bilateral asymmetries of the SC jump transfer to NS jump performance. The SC jump differs from the NS jump by a lead-in step that is continuous with the ensuing countermovement. Recreationally competitive volleyball players (12 men and 12 women) volunteered for the study. Three maximal-effort attempts in each condition were analyzed. Ground reaction forces were measured with force platforms and lower-extremity kinematics with optical capture. Ground reaction force as well as anatomical flexion and extension plane joint angle, moment, and power maximum (or minimum) and average values during the propulsion phase were analyzed with significance assessed at p < 0.05. Differences existed between the men and women in anthropometrics and jump height, as well as in many of the joint angles and body weight-normalized kinetic parameters, suggesting that women would benefit from increased strength and power at the ankle, knee, and hip. Differences also existed in many of the parameters between the LL and TL of the SC jump. Subjects jumped higher in the SC condition with greater demands placed on the LL, with the TL often acting similarly to its behavior in the NS condition. A few asymmetries of the LL and TL in the SC jump at the ankle and knee were also present in the NS jump. Strength and conditioning programs should include activities, such as plyometric jumps, that incorporate a step-close technique to optimize the development of this jump style. To minimize the development of functional asymmetries, the LL should be alternated by sets or repetitions.
(C) 2006 National Strength and Conditioning Association