Ankle proprioception, range of motion and drop landing ability differentiates competitive and non-competitive surfers
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Australian Institute of Sport Edith Cowan University
Objectives: To determine whether ankle proprioception differs by competitive level and is related to years of surf-specific experience. A secondary objective of this study is to further compare the physical capacities and abilities that may differentiate between the competitive levels of surfing. Design: Cross-sectional. Methods: Twelve junior-elite (currently competing at a state level or higher and 12–18 years of age), twelve senior-elite (currently competing at a national level and/or the World Qualifying Series and over 16 years of age), and twelve recreational surfers (minimum of two years surfing experience; actively surfing at least once a week and over 18 years of age) were recruited for this study. All participants completed a pre-exercise medical questionnaire, anthropometric assessment, ankle dorsiflexion range of motion assessment, medial-lateral ankle proprioception assessment, countermovement jump, squat jump, isometric mid-thigh pull and drop-and-stick. Results: Senior-elite surfers had large and significantly better ankle proprioception and range of motion than junior-elite and recreational surfers. However, the relationship between years of surf-specific experience and ankle proprioception was small and non-significant. Better drop-and-stick performance, indicated by lower relative peak force, was present in the senior-elite compared to the junior-elite and recreational groups. Conclusions: The results indicate that medial-lateral ankle proprioception is a distinguishing characteristic of senior-elite surfers and therefore, may be a critical ability for competitive success. Greater ankle range of motion and the ability to attenuate energy to reduce landing force may be developed through long-term training commensurate with competitive surfing.