Following on from Part 1, I will take you through a few examples of tests that you can use in your athletic screening process. Note that these tests reflect the injury mechanisms for an ACL injury seen in part 1 (e.g. drop vertical jump [double & single leg] reflect landing after heading a ball), hence the relevance of these tests to athletic performance and injury prevention. The first one is the Single Leg Hop and Land for Distance which reflects the ability to land effectively on one leg when moving in a forward direction.
Test 1: Single Leg Hop and Land for Distance Test.
Stand on one leg and find your balance. Once ready, hop as far as you can forward and land on that same leg. Repeat 3 times each side and take the best of the 3 measures for each side. This will give you some objective data to work with when you reassess. However, for the purpose of this series, we are more concerned with the movement quality (e.g. kinematics) of the LANDING. What we are looking for in this test is the coordination between the trunk, hip, knee and ankle when the athlete lands. This means we want to see a soft landing with a 2 to 3 second hold/stick, good alignment of the knee (over the toes) and an upright trunk position. Below is a video of one of my soccer athletes performing this test in his pre-season this year:
Test 2: Drop Vertical Jump Test
To perform this test, set up and stand on a 30cm tall object. You can use a box, steps + risers or weight plates, depending on what you have in your current facility. Drop off this height with a jump, hit the ground and straight away jump as high as you can and then land on two legs. For the single leg variant of this, the procedure is exactly the same however on one leg.
Test 3: Crossover Hop and Land Test
This test assesses the cutting/sidestepping movement capability of the individual. To perform the crossover hop test stand on one side of a 15cm wide line on one leg and find your balance. Once ready, perform 3 consecutive hops as far as you can while crossing the line between each hop. Repeat 3 times each side and take the best of the 3 measures for each side. “The distance from the start line to the toe of the test leg following the third hop was measured” (Hopper et al., 2002). Again, this will give you some objective data for when you reassess. As mentioned in the Single Leg Hop and Land for Distance Test, the purpose of these tests are to look at movement quality of the landings. Below is a schematic diagram of how this test would be performed and a video of how you do this in practice:
This wraps up part 2 of this series. Part 3 will take you some of the best exercises used to prevent knee injuries in soccer.