Task Constraints and Coordination Flexibility in Young Swimmers

in Motor Control
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This study aimed to examine young swimmers’ behavioral flexibility when facing different task constraints, such as swimming speed and stroke frequency. Eighteen (five boys and 13 girls) 13- to 15-year-old swimmers performed a 15 × 50-m front crawl with five trials, at 100%, 90%, and 70% each of their 50 m maximal swimming speed and randomly at 90%, 95%, 100%, 105%, and 110% of their preferred stroke frequency. Seven aerial and six underwater cameras were used to assess kinematics (one cycle), with upper-limb coordination computed through a continuous relative phase and index of coordination. A cluster analysis identified six patterns of coordination used by swimmers when facing various speed and stroke frequency constraints. The patterns’ nature and the way the swimmers shifted between them are more important than getting the highest number of patterns (range of repertoire), that is, a change in the motor pattern in order to adapt correctly is more important than being able to execute a great number of patterns.

Silva, Vilas-Boas, and Fernandes are with the Centre of Research, Education, Innovation and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D), Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Silva, Morais, Vilas-Boas, and Fernandes are with LABIOMEP (Porto Biomechanics Laboratory), University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Figueiredo is with Portugal Football School, Portuguese Football Federation, Lisbon, Portugal. Seifert is with CETAPS EA3832, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Rouen Normandy, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France.

Silva (anafilsilva@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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