Are biomechanical stability deficits during unplanned single-leg landings related to specific markers of cognitive function?

Published:October 01, 2019DOI:



      Cognitive skills such as working memory or inhibitory control are suggested to have an impact on injury risk during time-constrained athletic movements. Thus, the aim of this study was to gain further insights into the cognitive processes associated with biomechanical stability in unplanned jump-landings.




      Twenty male participants (27 ± 4 years) performed 70 counter-movement jumps with single-leg landings on a pressure plate. Equally balanced and in randomized order, these were to be performed either planned (landing leg indicated before take-off) or unplanned (visual cue during flight). Biomechanical stability was estimated from vertical peak ground reaction force (pGRF), time to stabilization (TTS), center of pressure path length (COP), and the number of standing errors (ground touch with free leg). In addition, decision-making was assessed as the amount of landing errors (wrong/both feet) in the unplanned condition. Cognitiive function was measured using computerized as well as pen-and-paper-testing.


      Unplanned landings produced higher COP values (p < 0.001, d = 1.1) and more standing errors (p < 0.001, d = 0.9) than the pre-planned condition. Decreased postural stability (COP) was related to lower inhibitory control (p = 0.036, r = 0.48). There was a correlation between the increase in standing errors and better cognitive flexibility/working memory (p = 0.037, r = −0.48) and short-term memory (p = 0.028, r = 0.50). The opposite was found for the unplanned landing errors: poor decision-making was associated with deficits in cognitive flexibility/working memory (p = 0.022, r = 0.54) and short-term memory (p = 0.019, r = −0.55).


      Cognitive function may be an important, but under-researched moderator of unplanned jump-landing safety. Further research should elucidate the development of training methods aiming to improve movement-related decision-making and landing stability under time constraints.


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