Reliability and validity of field-based measures of leg stiffness and reactive strength index in youths

J Sports Sci. 2009 Dec;27(14):1565-73. doi: 10.1080/02640410903311572.


The aim of the study was to assess the reliability of a mobile contact mat in measuring a range of stretch-shortening cycle parameters in young adolescents. Additionally, vertical leg stiffness using contact mat data was validated against a criterion method using force-time data. The reliability study involved 18 youths completing a habituation and three separate test sessions, while 20 youths completed a single test session for the validity study. Participants completed three trials of a squat jump, countermovement jump, and maximal hopping test and a single trial of repeated sub-maximal hopping at 2.0 Hz and 2.5 Hz. All tests were performed on the contact mat. Reliability statistics included repeated-measures analysis of variance, intraclass correlation coefficient, and coefficient of variation (CV), while the correlation coefficient (r) and typical error of estimate (TEE) were reported for the validity study. Squat jump height was the most reliable measure (CV = 8.64%), while leg stiffness during sub-maximal hopping, and reactive strength index produced moderate reliability (CV = 10.17-13.93% and 13.98% respectively). Measures of leg stiffness obtained from contact mat data during sub-maximal hopping were in agreement with the criterion measure (r = 0.92-0.95; TEE = 6.5-7.5%), but not during maximal hopping (r = 0.59; TEE = 41.9%). The contact mat was deemed a valid tool for measuring stretch-shortening cycle ability in sub-maximal but not maximal hopping. Although reliability of performance was generally moderate, the tests offer a replicable assessment method for use with paediatric populations.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Equipment Design
  • Exercise Test* / instrumentation
  • Exercise Test* / methods
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Task Performance and Analysis