Standing in the center of a lab in the basement of Cramer Hall, freshman men’s basketball player Henry Ellenson executes a series of jumps while Todd Smith, director of sports performance, urges him on. It all happens under the watch of Dr. Kristof Kipp, assistant professor of exercise science in the College of Health Sciences.
Kipp uses “force plates”— a pair of small gray floor panels to measure the energy being exerted on them — and gauge the force Ellenson generates when performing several kinds of jumps.
The force plates feed data into a computer that records it for analysis. By establishing baseline numbers for the athlete, then taking the measurements of the same jumps later on, Kipp can evaluate how an athlete’s jumping abilities change during the season. The Athletic Department’s strength and conditioning coaches can use the data to develop a player’s exercise regimens to maximize performance and prevent injuries.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Kipp says. “If you want to measure performance, accumulated fatigue and injury, you have to have numbers to do that.”
The experience was new to Ellenson. “I think it’s neat that they’re measuring our jumps, and to be able to see how we improve through-out the year will be really neat,” he says.
Kipp, who came to Marquette in fall 2011, is excited about the possibilities of the new Athletic Performance and Research Center Marquette is planning to build in partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“There are very few institutions around the globe, really, where athletic performance is one of the centerpieces of research,” he says. — CJ