Gender bias in the effects of arms and countermovement on jumping performance

Mark S Walsh, Harald Böhm, Michelle M Butterfield, Jabakar Santhosam
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2007, 21 (2): 362-6
The ability to jump high is considered important in a number of sports. It is commonly accepted that the use of the arms and a counter movement increase jump height. In some sport situations (e.g., volley ball block, basketball rebound), athletes may not be able to utilize a counter movement or arm swing. The purpose of this study is to examine gender differences in the contribution of the arm swing and counter movement to vertical jump height. Fifty college students, 25 men (age = 21.4 +/- 1.7 years, height = 182.2 +/- 8 cm, weight = 83.7 +/- 12.4 kg) and 25 women (age = 20.7 +/- 1.6 years, height = 166.7 +/- 6.3 cm, weight = 61.5 +/- 7.0 kg), performed 4 jumping movements: squat jumps with hands on hips (SNA), counter movement jump with hands on hips (CMNA), squat jump with arm swing (SA), and counter movement with arm swing (CMA). Significant differences were found between men's and women's performance, as well as between each type of jump within each gender. A mixed-model analysis of variance detected gender differences with respect to changes in the jumping movement. For both sexes the jumps in order from worst to best were SNA, CMNA, SA, and CMA. Peak power values for men were 4,057, 4,020, 4,644, and 4,747 W, respectively, for the 4 jumps. The female power values were 2,543, 2,445, 2,842, and 2,788 W, respectively, for the 4 jumps. Arms increased jump height more than a counter movement for both genders, with jump heights for men at 29.6, 31, 36, and 38 cm, respectively, and those of women 21, 22, 26, and 27 cm, respectively. Use of the arms was found to increase the jump height of the men significantly more than that of women. Changes in jumping movements affect men and women differently. The greater increase in jump height for the men when using the arm swing could be because of greater upper body strength of men compared with women. This could have applications to training and upper body strength and also to modeling of jumping movements.

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