The Influence of Biological Maturity on Sprint Speed, Standing Long Jump, and Vaulting Performance in Young Female Gymnasts

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To quantify speed, peak momentum, standing long jump (SLJ), and the ratio of vertical to horizontal take-off velocity (Ratiovert–hori TOV) in young female gymnasts of different maturity status and their influence on vaulting vertical TOV. Methods: One hundred twenty gymnasts age 5–14 years were subdivided into maturity groupings using percentage of predicted adult height. Participants performed three 20-m sprints, SLJ, and straight jump vaults that were recorded using 2-dimensional video and analyzed using digitizing software. Results: All speed intervals, peak speed, peak momentum, SLJ distance, vault height, and vertical TOV increased between the early prepubertal and late prepubertal (P < .001; d = 0.65–1.10) and early prepubertal and pubertal (P < .001; d = 0.75–1.00) groups. No differences between these metrics were observed between the 2 most mature groups (d = 0.01–0.55). Multiple regression analyses revealed peak speed had the strongest association with vertical TOV (R2 = 59%) and also identified the Ratiovert–hori as a secondary determinant (R2 = 12%). A separate regression model indicated that maturity status (percentage of predicted adult height) moderately influences vertical TOV during vaulting (R2 = 41%). Conclusion: Speed and SLJ performance increase between the early prepubertal and late prepubertal years in young female gymnasts. However, given that peak speed and Ratiovert–hori combined to explain 71% of the total variance in vaulting vertical TOV, in order to increase aerial time for more advanced vaulting, practitioners should attempt to enhance peak speed alongside takeoff technique to develop gymnasts’ ability to transfer linear speed to vertical TOV.

Moeskops, Oliver, and Lloyd are with the Youth Physical Development Centre, Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, United Kingdom. Oliver and Lloyd are also with the Sports Performance Research Inst New Zealand (SPRINZ), AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand. Lloyd is also with the Centre for Sport Science and Human Performance, Waikato Inst of Technology, Hamilton, New Zealand. Read is with the Athlete Health and Performance Research Center, Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar, and the School of Sport and Exercise, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, United Kingdom. Myer is with the Div of Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, OH, USA; the Dept of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA; and the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Boston, MA, USA.

Moeskops (smoeskops@cardiffmet.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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