The countermovement vertical jump (VJ) and three-step, single-leg vertical jump (SLVJ) are common techniques to assess jump performance. Many variables can affect jump height, including lower extremity (LE) stiffness and familiarity with the jump being used. Softness of an insole contributes to LE stiffness, but little research has been conducted in this area, particularly with commercially available insoles. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of insole softness on VJ and SLVJ performance in collegiate athletes. METHODS: Thirty-one collegiate athlete females and males (nf = 20, nm = 11) aged 18-22 years old, completed two separate testing sessions (random order), each of which included VJ and SLVJ testing. A control session was performed with participants’ normal athletic shoes (CON) while an experimental session was performed with commercially available insoles inserted into the participants’ shoes (INSOLE). Prior to the testing sessions, all participants completed a familiarization session, which included VJ and SLVJ instruction. Participants chose the preferred foot to jump from for the SLVJ, and the same foot was used for each SLVJ attempt in both testing sessions. For each testing session, participants performed a standardized 10-15 min dynamic warm-up, followed by three VJs and three SLVJs for maximum height with little rest between attempts. The highest VJ and SLVJ attempts for each testing session were recorded (in cm) for analysis. A paired t-test (α set at p ≤ 0.05) was used to compare VJ and SLVJ heights between conditions (CON and INSOLE). RESULTS: There were no significant differences between conditions for the VJ (CON 56.5±11.1 cm, INSOLE 57.9±12.1 cm; p = 0.14) and the SLVJ (CON 52.2±9.9 cm, INSOLE 53.0±10.2 cm; p = 0.19). CONCLUSION: The present study challenges the claim that commercially available insoles can increase vertical jump by at least three inches. Under the presented research conditions, greater insole softness did not improve VJ and SLVJ height. Variance in familiarity with VJ and SLJV techniques (based on their collegiate sport and athletic experience) and footwear may have contributed to the observed results. To the authors’ knowledge, no previous studies have examined the use of these commercially available insoles under similar experimental conditions. Therefore, it is recommended that further empirical testing be conducted to ascertain the potential athletic benefits of commercially available insoles.

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