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    Effect of Ball Inclusion on Jump Performance in Soccer Players: A Biomechanical Approach

    Fílter, Alberto, Olivares-Jabalera, Jesús, Molina-Molina, Alejandro, Suárez-Arrones, Luis, Robles, José, Dos’Santos, Thomas, Loturco, Irineu, Requena, Bernardo and Santalla, Alfredo (2022) Effect of Ball Inclusion on Jump Performance in Soccer Players: A Biomechanical Approach. Science and Medicine in Football, 6 (2). pp. 241-247. ISSN 2473-4446

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    Objective: In soccer, vertical jump means jumping toward a ball. Since no vertical jump test includes the ball as a reference element, the effect that the ball would have in a vertical jump test is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the biomechanical differences between run-up vertical jump measurements without (Run-up Vertical Jump) and with ball inclusion (Heading Test). Methods: Twelve semi- and professional soccer players were recruited. Athletes performed both jump tests in a biomechanical laboratory, where kinetic and spatiotemporal variables were collected and compared using a Student’s dependent t-test for paired samples. Results: Overall, players performed a different jumping strategy during the heading test compared to the run-up vertical jump, exhibiting: 1) higher horizontal velocity during initial contact (+45.3%, P ≤ .001), 2) shorter contact time, greater rate of force development, and total impulse during push-off (+27.5%, +53%, and +10.6%, respectively, P ≤ .008), 3) higher CoM horizontal and resultant velocity during take-off (+76.1% and 20.5%, respectively, P ≤ .001), 4) better vertical jump performance (+4.3%, P ≤ .0001), and 5) larger body angle rotation during landing (+63.3%, P = .006), compared to run-up vertical jump (effect size: 0.78 to 3.7). Conclusion: In general, soccer players display greater vertical jump heights in heading test, which highlights the importance of including an overhead ball during soccer-specific jump tests. Coaches and practitioners are encouraged to assess, and perhaps develop, the jumping ability of soccer players using a suspended ball as a specific target.

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