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Am J Sports Med. 2016 Apr;44(4):874-83. doi: 10.1177/0363546515625048. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

The Vertical Drop Jump Is a Poor Screening Test for ACL Injuries in Female Elite Soccer and Handball Players: A Prospective Cohort Study of 710 Athletes.

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Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.



The evidence linking knee kinematics and kinetics during a vertical drop jump (VDJ) to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury risk is restricted to a single small sample. Still, the VDJ test continues to be advocated for clinical screening purposes.


To test whether 5 selected kinematic and kinetic variables were associated with future ACL injuries in a large cohort of Norwegian female elite soccer and handball players. Furthermore, we wanted to assess whether the VDJ test can be recommended as a screening test to identify players with increased risk.


Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.


Elite female soccer and handball players participated in preseason screening tests from 2007 through 2014. The tests included marker-based 3-dimensional motion analysis of a drop-jump landing. We followed a predefined statistical protocol in which we included the following candidate risk factors in 5 separate logistic regression analyses, with new ACL injury as the outcome: (1) knee valgus angle at initial contact, (2) peak knee abduction moment, (3) peak knee flexion angle, (4) peak vertical ground-reaction force, and (5) medial knee displacement.


A total of 782 players were tested (age, 21 ± 4 years; height, 170 ± 7 cm; body mass, 67 ± 8 kg), of which 710 were included in the analyses. We registered 42 new noncontact ACL injuries, including 12 in previously ACL-injured players. Previous ACL injury (relative risk, 3.8; 95% CI, 2.1-7.1) and medial knee displacement (odds ratio, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.12-1.74 per 1-SD change) were associated with increased risk for injury. However, among the 643 players without previous injury, we found no association with medial knee displacement. A receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of medial knee displacement showed an area under the curve of 0.6, indicating a poor-to-failed combined sensitivity and specificity of the test, even when including previously injured players.


Of the 5 risk factors considered, medial knee displacement was the only factor associated with increased risk for ACL. However, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis indicated a poor combined sensitivity and specificity when medial knee displacement was used as a screening test for predicting ACL injury. For players with no previous injury, none of the VDJ variables were associated with increased injury risk.


VDJ tests cannot predict ACL injuries in female elite soccer and handball players.


anterior cruciate ligament; biomechanics; female; football; handball; screening; soccer; vertical drop jump

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