Reliability of single-leg balance and landing tests in rugby union; prospect of using postural control to monitor fatigue

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 2018, 17 (2), pp. 174 - 180
Issue Date:
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© Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. The present study examined the inter-trial (within test) and inter-test (between test) reliability of single-leg balance and single-leg landing measures performed on a force plate in professional rugby union players using commercially available software (SpartaMARS, Menlo Park, USA). Twenty-four players undertook test – re-test measures on two occasions (7 days apart) on the first training day of two respective pre-season weeks following 48h rest and similar weekly training loads. Two 20s single-leg balance trials were performed on a force plate with eyes closed. Three single-leg landing trials were performed by jumping off two feet and landing on one foot in the middle of a force plate 1m from the starting position. Single-leg balance results demonstrated acceptable inter-trial reliability (ICC = 0.60-0.81, CV = 11-13%) for sway velocity, anterior-posterior sway velocity, and mediolateral sway velocity variables. Acceptable inter-test reliability (ICC = 0.61-0.89, CV = 7-13%) was evident for all variables except mediolateral sway velocity on the dominant leg (ICC = 0.41, CV = 15%). Single-leg landing results only demonstrated acceptable inter-trial reliability for force based measures of relative peak landing force and impulse (ICC = 0.54-0.72, CV = 9-15%). Inter-test results indicate improved reliability through the averaging of three trials with force based measures again demonstrating acceptable reliability (ICC = 0.58-0.71, CV = 7-14%). Of the variables investigated here, total sway velocity and relative landing impulse are the most reliable measures of single-leg balance and landing performance, respectively. These measures should be considered for monitoring potential changes in postural control in professional rugby union.
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