Exploring the Justifications for Selecting a Drop Landing Task to Assess Injury Biomechanics: A Narrative Review and Analysis of Landings Performed by Female Netball Players

  • Tyler J. CollingsEmail author
  • Adam D. Gorman
  • Max C. Stuelcken
  • Daniel B. Mellifont
  • Mark G. L. Sayers
Review Article


When assessing biomechanics in a laboratory setting, task selection is critical to the production of accurate and meaningful data. The injury biomechanics of landing is commonly investigated in a laboratory setting using a drop landing task. However, why this task is so frequently chosen is unclear. Therefore, this narrative review aimed to (1) identify the justification/s provided within the published literature as to why a drop landing task was selected to investigate the injury biomechanics of landing in sport and (2) use current research evidence, supplemented by a new set of biomechanical data, to evaluate whether the justifications are supported. To achieve this, a comprehensive literature search using Scopus, PubMed, and SPORTDiscus online databases was conducted for studies that had collected biomechanical data relating to sport injuries using a drop landing task. In addition, kinematic and kinetic data were collected from female netball players during drop landings and maximum-effort countermovement jumps from the ground to grab a suspended ball. The literature search returned a total of 149 articles that were reviewed to determine the justification for selecting a drop landing task. Of these, 54% provided no explicit justification to explain why a drop landing task was chosen, and 15% stated it was selected because it had been used in previous research. Other reasons included that the drop landing provides high experimental control (16%), is a functional sports task (11%), and is a dynamic task (6%). Evidence in the literature suggests that the biomechanical data produced with drop landings may not be as externally valid as more sport-specific tasks. Biomechanical data showed that the drop landing may not control center of mass fall height any better than maximum-effort countermovement jumps from the ground. Further, the frequently used step-off technique to initiate drop landings resulted in kinematic and kinetic asymmetries between lower limbs, which would otherwise be symmetrical when performing a countermovement jump from the ground. Researchers should consider the limitations of a drop landing task and endeavor to improve the laboratory tasks used to collect biomechanical data to examine the injury biomechanics of landing.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethics Approval and Consent to Participate

Ethics approval was obtained from the University of Sunshine Coast Human Research Ethics Committee (A16878). Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. This study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Data Statement

The biomechanical and justification data presented in this article are available on request.

Conflicts of Interest

Tyler Collings, Adam Gorman, Max Stuelcken, Daniel Mellifont and Mark Sayers have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


The authors acknowledge the funding provided by the Sport Performance Innovation and Knowledge Excellence unit at the Queensland Academy of Sport. The funding party had no input into the study design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data or writing of the manuscript.

Author Contributions

All authors contributed to the study design, collection of data, interpretation of data, and the writing of the manuscript.


  1. 1.
    Fong DTP, Hong Y, Chan LK, Yung PSH, Chan KM. A systematic review on ankle injury and ankle sprain in sports. Sports Med. 2007;37(1):73–94.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hootman JM, Dick R, Agel J. Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives. J Athl Train. 2007;42(2):311–9.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stuelcken MC, Mellifont DB, Gorman AD, Sayers MG. Mechanisms of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in elite women’s netball: a systematic video analysis. J Sports Sci. 2016;34(16):1516–22. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Krosshaug T, Nakamae A, Boden BP, Engebretsen L, Smith G, Slauterbeck JR, et al. Mechanisms of anterior cruciate ligament injury in basketball: video analysis of 39 cases. Am J Sport Med. 2007;35(3):359–67. Scholar
  5. 5.
    Finch C, Costa AD, Stevenson M, Hamer P, Elliott BC. Sports injury experiences from the Western Australian sports injury cohort study. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2002;26(5):462–7.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gianotti SM, Marshall SW, Hume PA, Bunt L. Incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injury and other knee ligament injuries: a national population-based study. J Sci Med Sport. 2009;12(6):622–7. Scholar
  7. 7.
    Shimokochi Y, Shultz SJ. Mechanisms of noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury. J Athl Train. 2008;43(4):396–408. Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hewett TE, Myer GD, Ford KR. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes: part 1, mechanisms and risk factors. Am J Sport Med. 2006;34(2):299–311. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Smith HC, Vacek P, Johnson RJ, Slauterbeck JR, Hashemi J, Shultz S, et al. Risk factors for anterior cruciate ligament injury: a review of the literature—part 1: neuromuscular and anatomic risk. Sports Health. 2012;4(1):69–78.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Brown C, Padua D, Marshall SW, Guskiewicz K. Individuals with mechanical ankle instability exhibit different motion patterns than those with functional ankle instability and ankle sprain copers. Clin Biomech. 2008;23(6):822–31.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hewett TE, Ford KR, Myer GD. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes: part 2, a meta-analysis of neuromuscular interventions aimed at injury prevention. Am J Sport Med. 2006;34:490–8.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Alentorn-Geli E, Mendiguchía J, Samuelsson K, Musahl V, Karlsson J, Cugat R, et al. Prevention of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament injuries in sports. Part II: systematic review of the effectiveness of prevention programmes in male athletes. Knee Surg Sport Tr A. 2014;22(1):16–25.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gross MT, Liu H-Y. The role of ankle bracing for prevention of ankle sprain injuries. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003;33(10):572–7.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cruz A, Bell D, McGrath M, Blackburn T, Padua D, Herman D. The effects of three jump landing tasks on kinetic and kinematic measures: implications for ACL injury research. Res Sports Med. 2013;21(4):330–42. Scholar
  15. 15.
    Afifi M, Hinrichs RN. A mechanics comparison between landing from a countermovement jump and landing from stepping off a Box. J Appl Biomech. 2012;28(1):1–9.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Edwards S, Steele JR, McGhee DE. Does a drop landing represent a whole skill landing and is this moderated by fatigue? Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010;20(3):516–23.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Almonroeder TG, Kernozek T, Cobb S, Slavens B, Wang J. Cognitive demands influence lower extremity mechanics during a drop vertical jump task in female athletes. J Orthop Sports Phys Therapy. 2018;48:1–22. Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dufek JS, Bates BT. The evaluation and prediction of impact forces during landings. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990;22(3):370–7.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Blackburn JT, Padua DA. Influence of trunk flexion on hip and knee joint kinematics during a controlled drop landing. Clin Biomech. 2008;23(3):313–9.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ewing KA, Fernandez JW, Begg RK, Galea MP, Lee PVS. Prophylactic knee bracing alters lower-limb muscle forces during a double-leg drop landing. J Biomech. 2016;49(14):3347–54. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ali N, Robertson DGE, Rouhi G. Sagittal plane body kinematics and kinetics during single-leg landing from increasing vertical heights and horizontal distances: Implications for risk of non-contact ACL injury. Knee. 2014;21(1):38–46. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Arai T, Miaki H. Influence of static alignment of the knee, range of tibial rotation and tibial plateau geometry on the dynamic alignment of “knee-in” and tibial rotation during single limb drop landing. Clin Biomech. 2013;28(6):642–8. Scholar
  23. 23.
    Carcia CR, Kivlan B, Scibek JS. The relationship between lower extremity closed kinetic chain strength & sagittal plane landing kinematics in female athletes. Int J Sports Phys Therapy. 2011;6(1):1–9.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Cordova ML, Takahashi Y, Kress GM, Brucker JB, Finch AE. Influence of external ankle support on lower extremity joint mechanics during drop landings. J Sport Rehabil. 2010;19(2):136–48.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Decker MJ, Torry MR, Noonan TJ, Riviere A, Sterett WI. Landing adaptations after ACL reconstruction. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(9):1408–13. Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gardner JK, McCaw ST, Laudner KG, Smith PJ, Stafford LN. Effect of ankle braces on lower extremity joint energetics in single-leg landings. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(6):1116–22. Scholar
  27. 27.
    Irmischer BS, Harris C, Pfeiffer RP, DeBeliso MA, Adams KJ, Shea KG. Effects of a knee ligament injury prevention exercise program on impact forces in women. J Strength Cond Res. 2004;18(4):703–7. Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kuni B, Mussler J, Kalkum E, Schmitt H, Wolf SI. Effect of kinesiotaping, non-elastic taping and bracing on segmental foot kinematics during drop landing in healthy subjects and subjects with chronic ankle instability. Physiotherapy. 2016;102(3):287–93. Scholar
  29. 29.
    Nin DZ, Lam WK, Kong PW. Effect of body mass and midsole hardness on kinetic and perceptual variables during basketball landing manoeuvres. J Sports Sci. 2016;34(8):756–65. Scholar
  30. 30.
    Yeow CH, Lee PVS, Goh JCH. An investigation of lower extremity energy dissipation strategies during single-leg and double-leg landing based on sagittal and frontal plane biomechanics. Hum Mov Sci. 2011;30(3):624–35. Scholar
  31. 31.
    Brazen DM, Todd MK, Ambegaonkar JP, Wunderlich R, Peterson C. The effect of fatigue on landing biomechanics in single-leg drop landings. Clin J Sport Med. 2010;20(4):286–92. Scholar
  32. 32.
    Devita P, Skelly WA. Effect of landing stiffness on joint kinetics and energetics in the lower extremity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992;24(1):108–15.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kim K, Jeon K. Comparisons of knee and ankle joint angles and ground reaction force according to functional differences during single-leg drop landing. J Phys Therapy Sci. 2016;28(4):1150–4. Scholar
  34. 34.
    McNitt-Gray JL. Kinematics and impulse characteristics of drop landing from three heights. Int J Sport Biomech. 1991;7(2):201–24.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Mokhtarzadeh H, Ewing K, Janssen I, Yeow CH, Brown N, Lee PVS. The effect of leg dominance and landing height on ACL loading among female athletes. J Biomech. 2017;60:181–7. Scholar
  36. 36.
    Torry MR, Myers C, Shelburne KB, Peterson D, Giphart JE, Pennington WW, et al. Relationship of knee shear force and extensor moment on knee translations in females performing drop landings: a biplane fluoroscopy study. Clin Biomech. 2011;26(10):1019–24. Scholar
  37. 37.
    Zhang SN, Bates BT, Dufek JS. Contributions of lower extremity joints to energy dissipation during landings. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(4):812–9.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Nagano Y, Ida H, Akai M, Fukubayashi T. Biomechanical characteristics of the knee joint in female athletes during tasks associated with anterior cruciate ligament injury. Knee. 2009;16(2):153–8. Scholar
  39. 39.
    Blackburn JT, Padua DA. Sagittal-plane trunk position, landing forces, and quadriceps electromyographic activity. J Athl Train. 2009;44(2):174–9. Scholar
  40. 40.
    Scattone Silva R, Purdam CR, Fearon AM, Spratford WA, Kenneally-Dabrowski C, Preston P, et al. Effects of altering trunk position during landings on patellar tendon force and pain. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017;49(12):2517–27. Scholar
  41. 41.
    Madigan ML, Pidcoe PE. Changes in landing biomechanics during a fatiguing landing activity. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2003;13(5):491–8. Scholar
  42. 42.
    Decker MJ, Torry MR, Wyland DJ, Sterett WI, Steadman JR. Gender differences in lower extremity kinematics, kinetics and energy absorption during landing. Clin Biomech. 2003;18(7):662–9. Scholar
  43. 43.
    Kernozek TW, Torry MR, van Hoof H, Cowley H, Tanner S. Gender differences in frontal and sagittal plane biomechanics during drop landings. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37(6):1003–12.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Lephart SM, Ferris CM, Riemann BL, Myers JB, Fu FH. Gender differences in strength and lower extremity kinematics during landing. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2002;401(401):162–9.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Czasche MB, Goodwin JE, Bull AMJ, Cleather DJ. Effects of an 8-week strength training intervention on tibiofemoral joint loading during landing: a cohort study. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018;4(1):1–9.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Mokhtarzadeh H, Yeow CH, Goh JCH, Oetomo D, Ewing K, Lee PVS. Antagonist muscle co-contraction during a double-leg landing maneuver at two heights. Comput Method Biomech. 2017;20(13):1382–93. Scholar
  47. 47.
    Ferrari R. Writing narrative style literature reviews. Med Writ. 2015;24(4):230–5.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Green BN, Johnson CD, Adams A. Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-reviewed journals: secrets of the trade. J Chiropr Med. 2006;5(3):101–17.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Ambegaonkar JP, Shultz SJ, Perrin DH. A subsequent movement alters lower extremity muscle activity and kinetics in drop jumps vs. drop landings. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(10):2781–8. Scholar
  50. 50.
    Fox A, Spittle M, Otago L, Saunders N. Activity profiles of the Australian female netball team players during international competition: implications for training practice. J Sports Sci. 2013;31(14):1588–95. Scholar
  51. 51.
    Hopper D, Elliott B, Lalor J. A descriptive epidemiology of netball injuries during competition: a five year study. Br J Sports Med. 1995;29(4):223–8.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Wu G, Siegler S, Allard P, Kirtley C, Leardini A, Rosenbaum D, et al. ISB recommendation on definitions of joint coordinate system of various joints for the reporting of human joint motion—part I: ankle, hip, and spine. J Biomech. 2002;35(4):543–8.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Chiu LZ, Moolyk AN. Segment kinematics differ between jump and drop landings regardless of practice. J Appl Biomech. 2015;31(5):357–62. Scholar
  54. 54.
    Christoforidou Α, Patikas DA, Bassa E, Paraschos I, Lazaridis S, Christoforidis C, et al. Landing from different heights: biomechanical and neuromuscular strategies in trained gymnasts and untrained prepubescent girls. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2017;32(Supplement C):1–8. Scholar
  55. 55.
    Salci Y, Kentel BB, Heycan C, Akin S, Korkusuz F. Comparison of landing maneuvers between male and female college volleyball players. Clin Biomech. 2004;19(6):622–8.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Torry MR, Shelburne KB, Myers C, Giphart JE, Pennington WW, Krong JP, et al. High knee valgus in female subjects does not yield higher knee translations during drop landings: a biplane fluoroscopic study. J Orthop Res. 2013;31(2):257–67. Scholar
  57. 57.
    Winter D. Biomechanics and motor control of human movement. 4th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2009.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Benjamini Y, Hochberg Y. Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. J R Stat Soc. 1995;57:289–300.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Cohen J. Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. 2nd ed. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 1988.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Lakens D. Calculating and reporting effect sizes to facilitate cumulative science: a practical primer for t-tests and ANOVAs. Front Psychol. 2013;4(863):1–12. Scholar
  61. 61.
    van Rensburg LJ, Dare M, Louw Q, Crous L, Cockroft J, Williams L, et al. Pelvic and hip kinematics during single-leg drop-landing are altered in sports participants with long-standing groin pain: a cross-sectional study. Phys Therapy Sport. 2017;26:20–6. Scholar
  62. 62.
    Colclough A, Munro AG, Herrington LC, McMahon JJ, Comfort P. The effects of a four week jump-training program on frontal plane projection angle in female gymnasts. Phys Therapy Sport. 2017. Scholar
  63. 63.
    Fontboté CA, Sell TC, Laudner KG, Haemmerle M, Allen CR, Margheritini F, et al. Neuromuscular and biomechanical adaptations of patients with isolated deficiency of the posterior cruciate ligament. Am J Sport Med. 2005;33(7):982–9. Scholar
  64. 64.
    Wang H, Toner MM, Lemonda TJ, Zohar M. Changes in landing mechanics after cold-water immersion. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2010;81(2):127–32. Scholar
  65. 65.
    Nagano Y, Ida H, Akai M, Fukubayashi T. Gender differences in knee kinematics and muscle activity during single limb drop landing. Knee. 2007;14(3):218–23.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Harry JR, Silvernail JF, Mercer JA, Dufek JS. A bilateral comparison of vertical jump landings and step-off landings from equal heights. J Strength Cond Res. 2018;32:1937–47.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Nordin AD, Dufek JS. Lower extremity variability changes with drop-landing height manipulations. Res Sports Med. 2017;25(2):144–55. Scholar
  68. 68.
    Wang IL, Wang SY, Wang LI. Sex differences in lower extremity stiffness and kinematics alterations during double-legged drop landings with changes in drop height. Sports Biomech. 2015;14(4):404–12. Scholar
  69. 69.
    Zazulak BT, Ponce PL, Straub SJ, Medvecky MJ, Avedisian L, Hewett TE. Gender comparison of hip muscle activity during single-leg landing. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2005;35(5):292–9. Scholar
  70. 70.
    Hass CJ, Schick EA, Tillman MD, Chow JW, Brunt D, Cauraugh JH. Knee biomechanics during landings: comparison of pre- and postpubescent females. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37(1):100–7.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Harry JR, Freedman Silvernail J, Mercer JA, Dufek JS. Comparison of pre-contact joint kinematics and vertical impulse between vertical jump landings and step-off landings from equal heights. Hum Mov Sci. 2017;56:88–97. Scholar
  72. 72.
    Weinhandl JT, Joshi M, O’Connor KM. Gender comparisons between unilateral and bilateral landings. J Appl Biomech. 2010;26(4):444–53.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Chang JS, Kwon YH, Choi JH, Lee HS. Gender differences in lower extremity kinematics and kinetics of the vertical ground reaction force peak in drop-landing by flatfooted subjects. J Phys Therapy Sci. 2012;24(3):267–70. Scholar
  74. 74.
    Yu B, Garrett WE. Mechanisms of non-contact ACL injuries. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41(suppl 1):47–51. Scholar
  75. 75.
    Pappas E, Hagins M, Sheikhzadeh A, Nordin M, Rose D. Biomechanical differences between unilateral and bilateral landings from a jump: gender differences. Clin J Sport Med. 2007;17(4):263–8. Scholar
  76. 76.
    James CR, Bates BT, Dufek JS. Classification and comparison of biomechanical response strategies for accommodating landing impact. J Appl Biomech. 2003;19(2):106. Scholar
  77. 77.
    Nordin AD, Dufek JS, James CR, Bates BT. Classifying performer strategies in drop landing activities. J Sports Sci. 2017;35(18):1858–63. Scholar
  78. 78.
    Oggero E, Pagnacco G, Morr DR, Barnes SZ, Berme N. The mechanics of drop landing on a flat surface–a preliminary study. Biomed Sci Instrum. 1997;33:53–8.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Schot PK, Bates BT, Dufek JS. Bilateral performance symmetry during drop landing: a kinetic analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994;26(9):1153–9.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Maulder P, Cronin J. Horizontal and vertical jump assessment: reliability, symmetry, discriminative and predictive ability. Phys Therapy Sport. 2005;6(2):74–82. Scholar
  81. 81.
    Pappas E, Carpes FP. Lower extremity kinematic asymmetry in male and female athletes performing jump-landing tasks. J Sci Med Sport. 2012;15(1):87–92. Scholar
  82. 82.
    Edwards S, Steele JR, Cook JL, Purdam CR, McGhee DE. Lower limb movement symmetry cannot be assumed when investigating the stop-jump landing. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(6):1123–30. Scholar
  83. 83.
    Dai B, Cook RF, Meyer EA, Sciascia Y, Hinshaw TJ, Wang C, et al. The effect of a secondary cognitive task on landing mechanics and jump performance. Sports Biomech. 2017;2017:1–14.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Waldén M, Krosshaug T, Bjørneboe J, Andersen TE, Faul O, Hägglund M. Three distinct mechanisms predominate in non-contact anterior cruciate ligament injuries in male professional football players: a systematic video analysis of 39 cases. Br J Sports Med. 2015;2015:1–11.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Besier TF, Lloyd DG, Ackland TR, Cochrane JL. Anticipatory effects on knee joint loading during running and cutting maneuvers. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(7):1176–81.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Pinder RA, Davids K, Renshaw I, Araújo D. Representative learning design and functionality of research and practice in sport. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2011;33(1):146–55.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Fox A, Spittle M, Otago L, Saunders N. Descriptive analysis of landings during international netball competition: enhancing ecological validity of laboratory testing environments. Int J Perform Anal Sport. 2013;13(3):690–700.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Dai B, Garrett WE, Gross MT, Padua DA, Queen RM, Yu B. The effect of performance demands on lower extremity biomechanics during landing and cutting tasks. J Sport Health Sci. 2015;2015:1–7. Scholar
  89. 89.
    Chaudhari AM, Hearn BK, Andriacchi TP. Sport-dependent variations in arm position during single-limb landing influence knee loading: implications for anterior cruciate ligament injury. Am J Sport Med. 2005;33(6):824–30. Scholar
  90. 90.
    Dempsey AR, Elliott BC, Munro BJ, Steele JR, Lloyd DG. Whole body kinematics and knee moments that occur during an overhead catch and landing task in sport. Clin Biomech. 2012;27(5):466–74. Scholar
  91. 91.
    Stuelcken M, Greene A, Smith R, Vanwanseele B. Knee loading patterns in a simulated netball landing task. Eur J Sport Sci. 2013;13(5):475–82. Scholar
  92. 92.
    Hughes G, Watkins J, Owen N. The effects of opposition and gender on knee kinematics and ground reaction force during landing from volleyball block jumps. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2010;81(4):384–91. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of the Sunshine CoastSippy DownsAustralia
  2. 2.Queensland Academy of SportNathanAustralia

Personalised recommendations