As our ability to quantify and evaluate championship performance improves, so too does our understanding of what it takes to get there. Whether we are using lessons from normative data, elite sport, or from outliers who represent the absolute best of what athletes are capable of, there is still a tremendous amount to be discovered regarding what separates a great performer from an average one. Dual force platform technology can play a major role in doing so as the following case studies will demonstrate.
|ELITE FOOTBALL ATHLETE vs ELITE WEIGHTLIFTER||FOOTBALL ATHLETE||OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTER|
|Jump Height (cm)||37.5||57.5|
|Peak Concentric Power (Watts)||60||78.3|
|Eccentric Deceleration RFD (N/s/kg)||300||119|
|Eccentric Duration (ms)||296||542|
|Concentric Duration (ms)||170||210|
|Contraction Time (Eccentric + Concentric Duration)||466||752|
Table 1. Elite Soccer Athlete vs Elite Weightlifter Vertical Jump Performance
What defines a great jumper? Is it jumping height? Our data suggests that we must look deeper. If we look at the table above it would seem quite clear that the Olympic weightlifter is the better jumper. His vertical jump height and power is far superior to that of the football athlete.
Who is the better jumper?
Figure 1. Who is the better jumper?
However, the football athlete may only jump 65% of the weightlifter’s height, but he does so in 38% less time. Looking at the characteristics of each sport it is very easy to see why each athlete has learned to perform the way they have and why their jumping strategies are so different. In the sport of football force production and absorption are primarily constrained by the time a football player has to do so. In Olympic weightlifting, there is no time constraint to the performance of each competitive lift.
|ATHLETE COMPARISON||D1 BEACH VB ATHLETE||D1 INDOOR VB ATHLETE|
|Jump Height (cm)||28.3||37.5|
|Eccentric Acceleration Phase Duration (s)||0.3||0.24|
|Eccentric Peak Power (W)||1504.4||1218|
|Eccentric Peak Velocity (m/s)||-1.49||-1.25|
|Eccentric Deceleration RFD (N/s/kg)||59.4||112.1|
|Concentric Impulse @ 100ms (Ns)||65||83|
|Concentric Impulse (Ns)||170||170|
|Concentric Peak Velocity (m/s)||2.5||2.82|
Table 2. Comparison of a Division 1 Beach Volleyball and Indoor Volleyball Athlete
In this second case study presented above we can see that these two athletes’ strategies are also quite different. Yet their resultant outputs, regarding the elevation of their center of mass and their impulse characteristics, are virtually identical and are key determinants of performance for NCAA Division 1 level athletes in vertically oriented jumping sports. Additionally, those areas of their performance profiles that are more distinct are consistent with the varying physical demands of the two volleyball variations.
So, what makes a better jumper?
First, you must define what it is that they must do! This is what Dr. William Sands refers to as characteristic, but idiosyncratic. A given athlete’s performance and stress response will be characteristic, but will often be very idiosyncratic in comparison with other athletes and thus makes comparisons looking at normative data or group averages less useful overall. We can see this in everything from an athlete’s unique pre-performance routine to Usain Bolt’s sprinting stride. The lesson that underpins this relationship is that while how they get there may vary, the best athletes find a way.