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Jump-Landing Differences Between Varsity, Club, and Intramural Athletes: The Jump-ACL Study

Theiss, Justin L.1; Gerber, J. Parry1; Cameron, Kenneth L.2; Beutler, Anthony I.3; Marshall, Stephen W.4; Distefano, Lindsay J.5; Padua, Darin A.6; de la Motte, Sarah J.3; Miller, Joseph M.1; Yunker, Craig A.7

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 1164–1171
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182a1fdcd
Research Note

Theiss, JL, Gerber, JP, Cameron, KL, Beutler, AI, Marshall, SW, Distefano, LJ, Padua, DA, de la Motte, SJ, Miller, JM, and Yunker, CA. Jump-landing differences between varsity, club, and intramural athletes: The jump-ACL study. J Strength Cond Res 28(4): 1164–1171, 2014—Abnormal movement patterns have been identified as important prospective risk factors for lower extremity injury, including anterior cruciate ligament injury. Specifically, poor neuromuscular control during the early landing phase has been associated with increased injury risk. Although it is commonly assumed that higher division collegiate athletes generally exhibit better movement patterns than lower division athletes, few studies compare the biomechanical differences on basic tasks such as jump landing between various levels of athletic groups. The objective of this study was to evaluate jump-landing and fitness differences among college-aged Intramural, Competitive Club, and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level athletes. Two hundred seventy-seven student-athletes (222 men, 55 women; age 19.3 ± 0.8 years) categorized as NCAA Division I, Competitive Club, or Intramural level athletes were evaluated during a jump-landing task using the Landing Error Scoring System (LESS), a validated qualitative movement assessment. Fitness was measured using the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Results showed no significant differences in landing errors between the levels of athletic group (F 2,267 = 0.36, p = 0.70). There was a significant difference in landing errors between genders (F 1,268 = 3.99, p = 0.05). Significant differences in APFT scores were observed between level of athletic group (F 2,267 = 11.14, p < 0.001) and gender (F 1,268 = 9.27, p = 0.003). There was no significant correlation between the APFT and LESS scores (p = 0.26). In conclusion, higher level athletes had better physical fitness as measured by the APFT but did not as a group exhibit better landing technique. The implications of this research suggest that “high-risk” movement patterns are prevalent in all levels of athletes.

1Physical Therapy Sports Medicine Residency, Keller Army Hospital, West Point, New York;

2John A. Feagin Jr. Sports Medicine Fellowship, Keller Army Hospital, West Point, New York;

3Injury Prevention Research Laboratory, Department of Family Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland;

4Injury Prevention Research Center, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina;

5Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut;

6Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, Department of Exercise & Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and

7Department of Physical Education, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York

Address correspondence to Justin L. Theiss,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.