Maximal Sprint Speed in Boys of Increasing Maturity

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Robert W. Meyers Cardiff Metropolitan University

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Jonathan L. Oliver Cardiff Metropolitan University

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Michael G. Hughes Cardiff Metropolitan University

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John B. Cronin AUT University

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Rhodri S. Lloyd Cardiff Metropolitan University

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The purpose of this study was to examine the natural development of the mechanical features of sprint performance in relation to maturation within a large cohort of boys. Three hundred and thirty-six boys (11-15 years) were analyzed for sprint performance and maturation. Maximal speed, stride length (SL), stride frequency (SF), flight time (FT) and contact time (CT) were assessed during a 30m sprint. Five maturation groups (G1-5) were established based on age from peak height velocity (PHV) where G1=>2.5years pre-PHV, G2 = 2.49-1.5years pre-PHV, G3 = 1.49-0.5years pre-PHV, G4 = 0.49years pre- to 0.5years post-PHV and G5 = 0.51-1.5years post-PHV. There was no difference in maximal speed between G1, G2 and G3 but those in G4 and G5 were significantly faster (p < .05) than G1-3. Significant increases (p < .05) in SL were observed between groups with advancing maturation, except G4 and G5 (p > .05). SF decreased while CT increased (both p < .05) between G1, G2 and G3, but no further significant changes (p > .05) were observed for either variable between G3, G4 and G5. While G1-3 increased their SL, concomitant decreases in SF and increases in CT prevented them from improving maximal speed. Maximal sprint speed appears to develop around and post-PHV as SF and CT begin to stabilize, with increases in maximal sprint speed in maturing boys being underpinned by increasing SL.

Meyers, Oliver, Hughes, and Lloyd are with the Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK. Cronin is with the Sport Performance Research Institute, New Zealand, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.

Address author correspondence to Robert Meyers at rwmeyers@cardiffmet.ac.uk.
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