October 21, 2014

    Coincidences don’t Exist: The Relationship of Strength to Performance and Injury

    "Coincidences seem to happen more and more as one progresses" Buddhist teaching

    In relation to last weeks post, we’re going to discuss sport specific Sparta Signatures and the data that drives the specific prescriptions used with our athletes. In a previous post we discussed some correlations we found between the t scores for Signature variables and on-court basketball performance. Our academic statistics partners at BYU looked at over 100 male and female collegiate basketball players and found that as the t scores for EXPLODE increased and LOAD decreased (signature to the right), the players played more minutes. Like last week, this is called a canonical correlation. There are two reasons why an athlete would play more minutes. The first reason is they’re better than other players, and the second is they’re healthier; it’s easier to play when when you’re not hurt.  As coaches, we can see how the ability to maintain stiffness (EXPLODE) without the need for a large counter movement (LOAD) would make for a better, healthier basketball player.


    The tricky thing about this particular data set is that the statisticians also found another correlation. They found that unlike males, female basketball players who had an increased t score for LOAD (signature left) also had more defensive rebounds and blocked shots (they chose to evaluate defensive rebounds because offensive rebounds are more about positioning and timing). This could be a positional difference, i.e. post players need strength in different Sparta signature variables than guards. However, we also think it shows that female basketball players benefit from a different type of strength than male players, and we should adjust our program accordingly. LOAD represents an athletes ability to generate force. To increase an athlete’s LOAD, we prescribe squats and one leg squats, movements that use the ankle joint to activate the quads and other anterior chain muscles for deceleration.

    So why not just keep LOAD low and focus on EXPLODE?  Our statistics show LOAD is also associated with protective effects against knee injuries. We do not believe in coincidences and these knee injuries occur at a higher frequency in females, so the data ties in nicely to simultaneously associate both a positive effect in sport performance and injury reduction.

    Like we have said, we correlate our force plate testing and the resulting Sparta signature with on-court performance because we want to make sure our test is valid. In doing so, sometimes it raises questions about specific athlete prescriptions we are using or have used in the past. The important message is even though the answers are not always immediately clear or simple, continuing to be critical of your own program is the only way you can improve as a coach.

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