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A kinematic analysis of the role of the upper-extremities during vertical jumpingWorsfold, Paul R.; Twist, Craig; Lamb, Kevin L.; Connell, Robert (University of Chester, 2013)Over the last two decades, plyometric training has been extensively adopted by athletes, coaches and sport scientists with a primary aim to improve vertical jump height. The focus of these plyometric programmes has been to train the lower-extremity musculature in order to enhance jump performance. However, the lower-extremities are not the only contributing factor to vertical jump performance, as the use of an arm-swing during vertical jumping has also been shown to contribute to achieving maximum vertical jump height, yet training programmes for improving the arm-swing during the vertical jump are limited. Therefore, the primary aim of this thesis was to examine the full arm-swing mechanics during vertical jumping, and to then develop and assess the suitability of an upper-extremity plyometric programme for increasing both arm-swing kinematics and jump height. Firstly, a descriptive study was conducted to assess if an arm-swing countermovement was utilised during the vertical jump, which was deemed the prerequisite for using plyometric training to improve the arm-swing. Then an experimental study was conducted comparing vertical jumps performed with and without an arm-swing countermovement. The results showed that jumps performed with an arm-swing countermovement significantly increased mean peak shoulder angular velocity (ω) (+67.5 deg·s-1) and mean jump height (+ 6.2 cm) when compared to jumps performed using no arm-swing countermovement. During the final chapter of this thesis, a group of elite basketball players volunteered to participate in upper-extremity plyometric training aimed at increasing vertical jump height by training only the upper-extremities. Vertical jump height and full body kinematics were analysed using a 3 dimensional (3D) motion capture system, and key kinematic jump variables and various arm-swing performance measurements were collated both before and after a 4 week upper-extremity plyometric intervention. The use of upper-extremity plyometric training significantly increased the mean jump height (+ 7.2 cm), mean peak shoulder ω (+ 167.1 deg·s-1), mean peak frontal shoulder ω (+ 121 deg·s-1) and mean active range of motion at the shoulder joint (+ 5.3°), when compared to a control group. Furthermore, the use of a large active range of motion armswing during the arm-swing countermovement was shown to be the preferred arm-swing condition for increasing arm-swing kinematics. The increase in arm-swing kinematics and jump height after the 4 week upper-extremity plyometric programme was attributed to the participants’ improved ability to use the stretch-shortening cycle, elastic energy transfer system and stretch reflex system. Therefore, the use of upper-extremity plyometric exercises as part of a training regime for improving vertical jump performance should be advocated.