Court sports often require more frequent changes of direction (COD) than field sports. Most court sports require 180= turns over a small distance, so COD in such sports might be best evaluated with an agility test involving short sprints and sharp turns. The purposes of this study were to (a) quantify vertical and horizontal force during a COD task, (b) identify possible predictors of court-sport-specific agility performance, and (c) examine performance difference between National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I, II, and III athletes. Twenty-nine collegiate female volleyball players completed a novel agility test, countermovement (CM) and drop jump tests, and an isometric leg extensor test. The number of athletes by division was as follows: I (n = 9), II (n = 11), and III (n = 9). The agility test consisted of 4 5-meter sprints with 3 180= turns, including 1 on a multiaxial force platform so that the kinetic properties of the COD could be identified. One-way analysis of variance revealed that Division I athletes had significantly greater countermovement jump heights than Division III, and the effect size comparisons (Cohen's d) showed large-magnitude differences between Division I and both Divisions II and III for jump height. No other differences in performance variables were noted between divisions, although effect sizes reached moderate values for some comparisons. Regression analysis revealed that CM displacement was a significant predictor of agility performance, explaining approximately 34% of the variance. Vertical force was found to account for much of the total force exerted during the contact phase of the COD task, suggesting that performance in the vertical domain may limit the COD task used herein. This study indicates that individuals with greater CM performance also have quicker agility times and suggests that training predominantly in the vertical domain may also yield improvements in certain types of agility performance. This may hold true even if such agility performance requires a horizontal component.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association