DuAnn E. Kremer, Lauren Stanford, Jill Lucas. University of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, VA.

BACKGROUND: An extrinsic motivator, such as a target, can encourage an individual to work harder during a task or activity. Extrinsic motivation is easier to manipulate than intrinsic motivation, so it is important to know how it affects performance. The purpose of this study was to examine if the addition of an extrinsic motivator had an effect on performance in a vertical jump test. METHODS: Seventeen subjects (52.9% female, 70.6% D-III varsity athlete, 20.82 ± 1.33 yrs of age, BMI 25.23 ± 2.67 kg/m2) performed a minimum of three countermovement vertical jumps under each of the two testing conditions: switch mat and switch mat with Vertec. Jump height was calculated from flight time measured by the switch mat. The Vertec served as the extrinsic motivator, as it provided an overhead target to reach for. Prior to testing, all subjects participated in a standardized dynamic warm-up and a series of practice jumps. Each jumping trial was followed by a 30 second rest period. Subjects continued jumping until no further improvement was seen in performance, compared to previous trials under the same condition. A dependent t-test was used to compare max jump height between the two conditions. An additional nominal variable was created to indicate if subjects experienced improvement with the Vertec. Chi-square tests compared the relationship between sex and improvement with the Vertec as well as athlete status and improvement with the Vertec. Body mass index (BMI) and max jump height were analyzed with a Pearson product moment correlation. RESULTS: The extrinsic motivator improved jump performance by an average of 0.99 in (22.49 ± 5.03 in vs 21.50 ± 4.43 in, t(16) = -2.77, p = 0.014). Thirteen of the seventeen subjects achieved a higher jump height with the Vertec. Improvement with the Vertec did not vary by sex (χ2 (1, N = 17) = 1.64, p = 0.31) or by athlete status (χ2 (1, N = 17) = 0.05, p = 0.05). A non-significant weak positive correlation was found between max jump height on the switch mat and BMI (r = 0.228, p = 0.379). A similar relationship was found between max jump height with the Vertec present and BMI (r = 0.253, p = 0.327). CONCLUSIONS: It was concluded that adding an extrinsic motivator significantly improves vertical jump performance. The improvement in performance did not differ based on sex or whether the subject was a current D-III varsity athlete. Body mass index was weakly correlated with performance. Our results suggest that the use of extrinsic motivators may be beneficial in both testing and training environments.

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