January 2011

French study links leg stiffness, power to jump height, speed in tennis players

In the moment: Sports medicine

A French study suggests that leg stiffness and power in tennis players are each significantly correlated with countermovement jump height and running speed—two factors that earlier research linked to competitive performance.

Investigators from the Universite du Maine in Le Mans, France, assessed leg stiffness, jump height, and sprint speed in 13 elite male tennis players (average age 23); theoretical maximal leg power was extrapolated from a force-velocity test on a cycle ergometer. They found that leg stiffness was significantly correlated to both speed and jump height, as was leg power. The findings were published in the December issue of the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

Sprinting speed and vertical jumping power were both correlated with tennis performance in a September 2009 study from the Qatar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. That study involved 12 male competitive tennis players whose average age was 13.6. Interestingly, however, the Qatar researchers did not find a correlation between leg stiffness and tennis performance.

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