To investigate the effects of fatigue on the vertical force and kinematics of the lower limbs during maximal water polo eggbeater kicking.
Twelve male water polo players maintained as high a position as possible while performing the eggbeater kick with the upper limbs raised out of the water until they were unable to keep the top of the sternum (manubrium) above water. Data comprising 27 complete eggbeater-kick cycles were extracted corresponding to 9 cycles of the initial nonfatigued (0%), 50% time point (50%), and final fatigued (100%) periods of the trial. Vertical force, foot speed, and hip-, knee-, and ankle-joint angles were calculated.
Mean vertical force (0%, 212.2 N; 50%, 184.5 N; 100%, 164.3 N) progressively decreased with time. Speed of the feet (0.4 m/s), hip abduction (2.9°), and flexion (3.6°) decreased with fatigue, while hip internal rotation (3.6°) and ankle inversion (4°) increased with fatigue. Average angular velocity decreased for all joint motions.
Eggbeater-kick performance decreases with fatigue. Inability to maintain foot speeds and hip and ankle actions with progressing fatigue diminishes the ability of the player to produce vertical force during the cycle. Increased internal rotation of the hip when fatigued and the large eversion/abduction of the ankle during the cycle may be predisposing factors for the prevalence of patellofemoral pain syndrome observed among eggbeater-kick performers. Appropriate training interventions that can limit the effects of fatigue on performance and injury risk should be considered.
Oliveira and Saunders are with the Inst of Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. Sanders is with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.