At ACLAÍ we spend quite a lot of time working out ways on how to improve our training system, and measuring progress for our athletes is a big part of that. We have recently been trying out the wonderful OptoJump hardware and technology, and have found it most useful. For any coaches out there, its worth having a finger on the pulse when it comes to what types of technology is out there at your disposal, so we wanted to give you a quick run down of the OptoJump.

The testing and monitoring of athletes is an essential element of strength and conditioning for a number of reasons. It can provide strength and conditioning coaches with the necessary information to optimise the best training program design (Foster et al. 2001). Consequently, the risk of injury and illness is reduced, the athletes career can potentially be elongated and performance can be increased (Kellmann, 2010). It also allows feedback to be provided to athletes and their coaches giving them a clearer perception of how their body responds and adapts to different training and can act as a source of motivation. (Cardinale, Newton and Nosaka, 2011).

Force platforms and optical motion analysis are the most commonly used pieces of equipment to measure force production and movement patterns and have both been regarded as gold standard pieces of equipment (Cronin, Hing and McNair 2004; Liu, Inoue and Shibata 2009). Force platforms, which are complex in nature, require scientific knowledge to use. They are generally confined to the constraints of a laboratory. Due to their sensitivity to peripheral vibrations the force platform has limited use in terms of day to day use in the field in order to maintain their functional integrity (Cronin et al. 2004). They are also extremely expensive with a cost upwards of 12,500 euro. As a result of the high cost, they are generally not easily available to athletes or training facilities. Similarly, optical motion analysis are expensive costing upwards of 15,500 pound sterling. They require a large amount of space to work as well as high speed graphic signal processing devices. They are a sophisticated piece of equipment for which the analysis is very time consuming and complex. This limits them to laboratory research and makes them difficult to use in daily monitoring or testing (Liu et al. 2009). The difficulties associated with these laboratory based pieces of equipment creates a niche for a practical device which can measure the same variables as a force platform or optical motion analysis accurately and is both portable and affordable.

The Optojump photoelectric cells (Microgate, Bolzano, Italy) are an alternative to these more complicated and expensive laboratory based equipment. Optojump which is an optical measurement system consists of two parallel bars, a receiving and transmitting bar. LED’s on the transmitting bar communicate continuously with those on the receiving bar. The system detects any interruptions in communication between the bars and calculates their duration. This combined with video analysis of the tests performed allows for jump tests, reaction tests and running tests to be performed. This provides coaches with contact and flight times, reaction times to sound and visual impulses, elevation of centre of gravity, specific power outputs as well as frequency and energy expended which are sent directly to the coaches laptop computer. Optojump, which is positioned on the ground also allows for athlete-surface interaction to be respected as it can be placed directly on all sports surfaces with the exception of sand. It is easily transportable, inconspicuous to the athlete, user friendly and practical, affording athletes and coaches with the opportunity for day to day monitoring in the training environment making it an appealing option for the monitoring and testing of athletes. Optojump is cost efficient in respect to its laboratory based counterparts with a cost price of approximately 2000 euro as well as being easily accessible as they are commercially available. The information that Optojump provides allows for the development of effective and efficient training, aids injury prevention and due to instant feedback can motivate the individual. It causes minimal disturbances to training enabling it to track the athlete’s progress and possibly indicate any fatigue or overtraining that may occur potentially making it a valuable feedback tool.

Here at Aclai we are currently working with the Optojump device affording us the opportunity to continuously monitor and test our clients. We use the opto jump to measure vertical jump, both bi latera; and uni-lateral), as well as a whole other host of variables. Stay tuned for more on our optojump exploits!

Reference List

Cardinale, M., Newton, R., & Noaka, K. (2011). Strength and conditioning: Biological 22principles and practical application. USA: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Cronin, J B., Hing, R. D., & McNair. P. J. (2004). Reliability and validity of a linear position transducer for measuring jump performance. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(3), 590-593.

Foster, C., Florhaug, J. A., Franklin, J., Gottschall, L., Hrovatin, L. A., Parker, S., … & Dodge, C. (2001). A new approach to monitoring exercise training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research15(1), 109-115.

Kellmann, M. (2010). Preventing overtraining in athletes in high‐intensity sports and stress/recovery monitoring. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports20(s2), 95-102.

Liu, T., Inoue, Y., & Shibata, K. (2009). Development of a wearable sensor system for quantitative gait analysis. Measurement42(7), 978-988.


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