Some of the top minds in the field of strength and conditioning believe that the key to athletic performance comes down to how much force an athlete can put into the ground and how quickly that force can be applied. While this may be an oversimplification, one cannot argue that peak force and rate of force development are integral characteristics that affect sprinting, jumping and rapid changes of direction, each of which are key elements to team sports play. One of the best ways to assess lower body force production along with rate of force development is via the isometric mid-thigh pull, performed on a force plate. The isometric mid-thigh pull has been related to athletic performance variables such as sprinting and jumping in rugby players, however, how this markers relates with performance metrics among college basketball players remains to be determined.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research evaluated relationships between isometric mid-thigh pull derived variables and various athletic performance tests among a group of NCAA Division 1 basketball players. Eight male and 15 female college basketball players were tested for peak force production and rate of force development at 50, 100, 150, 200 and 250 ms. In addition, all players performed a 20 m sprint test (5 and 10 m splits) while power, velocity and force were evaluated via tethered device (1080 Sprint). One repetition front squat and hang clean as well as vertical jump height and agility performance were also evaluated. Bivariate correlations were used to quantify relationships among the variables.
The results showed that isometric mid-thigh pull peak force was significantly related with 1RM front squat (r = 0.71), hang clean (r = 0.89), vertical jump height (r = 0.81) and agility (r = -0.66). In addition, peak force was also significantly related with sprint time for all split intervals (r values range from -0.62 – -0.69), average and peak sprint velocity (r values range from 0.50 – 0.70) as well as average sprint force and average sprint power (r values range from 0.48 – 0.73). Interestingly, rate of force development between 50-250 ms was significantly associated with average sprint force and power over the first 5 m. The authors conclude that initial acceleration kinetics of a sprint (~5 m) are strongly affected by rate of force development and that practitioners may use the isometric mid-thigh pull test to assess and monitor performance in collegiate basketball players.
Townsend, J. R., Bender, D., Vantrease, W., Hudy, J., Huet, K., Williamson, C., … & Mangine, G. T. (2017). Isometric Mid-Thigh Pull Performance Is Associated With Athletic Performance And Sprinting Kinetics In Division I Men And Women’s Basketball Players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.