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(12) THE EFFECTS OF CONCURRENT ACTIVATION POTENTIATION ON BAT SWING VELOCITY OF DIVISION II COLLEGE SOFTBALL ATHLETES


Authors:

Alexis Mace – Undergraduate Student, Florida Southern College

Sara Terrell – Exercise Science Program Director, Florida Southern College

Zack Wallace – Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, Florida Southern College

Charles Allen, PhD, CSCS*D, TSAC-F – Assistant Professor of Exercise Science, Florida Southern College

Abstract:

Concurrent activation potentiation (CAP), achieved by remote voluntary contractions (RVC) such as jaw clenching, has been proposed to enhance performance in male but not female athletes. CAP has been shown to enhance muscular performance characteristics, yet its effects on sports performance outcomes such as bat swing velocity (BSV), which is an important component for successful hitting in softball, has not been investigated. Furthermore, it remains unclear as to whether RVC produces a similar ergogenic effect in women as it does in men. PURPOSE: The purpose of this research was to examine the effects of maximal jaw clenching on bat swing velocity in collegiate division II softball players. METHODS: Thirteen (n = 13) division II softball players (age 19.79 ± 1.31 years; height 167.69 ± 6.91 cm; mass 68.23 ± 8.68 kg) volunteered to participate in this study. Subjects were instructed to complete their normal warmup routine as if preparing for a game at-bat. Following the warmup, subjects completed ten maximal effort swings targeting a softball on a tee. Five swings were performed while maximally clenching the jaw and five with relaxed jaw musculature (control condition). Conditions were counterbalanced between subjects to account for possible order effects. Each subject was given 30 seconds of rest between swing attempts. Tee height, tee placement, and bat used varied between subjects but remained consistent for all swing attempts. BSV was recorded using an inertial measurement unit (Zepp Sensor, Zepp Labs, Inc.) attached to the knob of the bat, and all recorded trials were averaged for analysis. Paired sample t-tests were utilized to determine differences between jaw clenched and jaw relaxed conditions. RESULTS: Mean swing velocity for the control condition was 28.02 m/s (62.68mph) and 29.42 m/s (65.82mph) for the jaw clenched condition, producing a statistically significant mean difference of 1.4 m/s (3.14mph) (p = 0.003). CONCLUSIONS: Maximally clenching the jaw while swinging a softball bat is a useful strategy to improve BSV in Division II college softball players. Additionally, CAP via maximal jaw clenching appears to improve aspects of athletic performance in female athletes. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: CAP, achieved by maximally clenching the jaw, is a practical and legal ergogenic strategy to produce increased BSV in female athletes. Since BSV is an important component of successful hitting, coaches may encourage softball athletes to incorporate this RVC technique in their hitting approach as the increase in BSV could positively influence hitting performance.

 

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