Effects of Different Visual Stimuli on Postures and Knee Moments during Sidestepping

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Evasive sidestepping during sports commonly results in noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Sidestepping in response to different simple visual stimuli has been studied previously but never investigated using quasi–game-realistic visual conditions. We compared the biomechanics of high-level and low-level soccer players when sidestepping in response to projected, three-dimensional defender(s) and the traditionally used planned and unplanned arrow stimuli.


A three-dimensional motion analysis system captured the trunk and lower limb kinematics and ground reaction forces of 15 high-level and 15 low-level soccer players sidestepping in response to a one-defender scenario (1DS), two-defender scenario (2DS), arrow-planned condition (AP), and arrow-unplanned condition (AUNP). The temporal constraints imposed by the stimuli conditions resulted in increasing difficulty from AP, 1DS, 2DS, to AUNP. Selected joint kinematics and three-dimensional knee moments during the weight-acceptance phase of sidestepping were analyzed.


Hip external rotation at initial foot contact was smaller when participants sidestepped in response to the projected defenders versus arrow conditions. Hip abduction was smallest in the AP, moderate in the defender scenarios, and largest in the AUNP. Peak knee valgus moments were 25% larger in the defender scenarios and 70% larger in the AUNP compared with the AP. High-level players exhibited decreased hip abduction and knee valgus moments in the 2DS compared with the low-level players.


Compared with the arrow conditions, sidestepping in response to the defender(s) resulted in different postures and knee moments, which further differentiated between high-level and low-level players in the complex 2DS. These findings highlight the effects of stimuli realism and complexity on the visual–perceptual–motor skill of sidestepping, which has implications for anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention.

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