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Lower-Extremity Strength Profiles and Gender-Based Classification of Basketball Players Ages 9-22 Years

Buchanan, Patricia A; Vardaxis, Vassilios G

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 406-419
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942140
Original Research

Buchanan, PA and Vardaxis, VG. Lower-extremity strength profiles and gender-based classification of basketball players ages 9-22 years. J Strength Cond Res 23(2): 406-419, 2009-Despite an increase in women sports participants and recognition of gender differences in injury patterns (e.g., knee), few normative strength data exist beyond hamstrings and quadriceps measures. This study had 2 purposes: to assess the lower-extremity strength of women (W) and men (M) basketball players who were 9-22 years old, and to determine which strength measures most correctly classify the gender of 12- to 22-year-old athletes. Fifty basketball players (26 W, 24 M) without ligamentous or meniscal injury performed concentric isokinetic testing of bilateral hip, knee, and ankle musculature. We identified maximal peak torques for the hip (flexors, extensors, abductors, adductors), knee (flexors and extensors), and ankle (plantar flexors and dorsiflexors), and we formed periarticular (hip, knee, and ankle), antigravity, and total leg strength composite measures. We calculated mean and 95% confidence intervals. With body mass-height normalization, most age and gender differences were small. Mean values were typically higher for older vs. younger players and for men vs. women players. Mean values were often lower for girls 12-13 years vs. those 9-10 years. In the age group of 16-22 years, men had stronger knee flexors, hip flexors, plantar flexors, and total leg strength than women. Men who were 16-22 years old had stronger knee flexors and hip flexors than did younger men and women players. Based on discriminant function, knee strength measures did not adequately classify gender. Instead, total leg strength measures had correct gender classifications of 74 and 69% (jackknifed) with significant multivariate tests (p = 0.025). For researchers and practitioners, these results support strength assessment and training of the whole lower extremity, not just knee musculature. Limited strength differences between girls 9-10 years old and those 12-13 years old suggest that the peripubertal period is an important time to target strength development.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Des Moines University, Des Moines, Iowa

Address correspondence to Patricia A. Buchanan,

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association