The Influence of Age and Maturation on Trajectories of Stretch-Shortening Cycle Capability in Male Youth Team Sports

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 University of Gloucestershire
  • | 2 Palacký University Olomouc
  • | 3 Miguel Hernandez University of Elche
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Purpose: To examine the influence of growth and maturation in the trajectory of stretch-shortening cycle capability. Method: Using a mixed-longitudinal design, absolute and relative leg stiffness and reactive strength index (RSI) were measured 3 times over a 3-year period in 44 youth team-sport players. Maturation was determined as maturity offset and included within the Bayesian inference analysis as a covariate alongside chronological age. Results: Irrespective of age and maturation, there was no change in absolute leg stiffness, however relative leg stiffness decreased over time. Maturation and age reduced this decline, but the decline remained significant (Bayesian factor [10] = 5097, model averaged R2 = .61). The RSI increased over time and more so in older more mature youth players (Bayesian factor [10] = 9.29e8, model averaged R2 = .657). Conclusion: In youth players who are at/post peak height velocity, relative leg stiffness appears to decline, which could have an impact on both performance and injury risk. However, RSI increases during this period, and these data reinforce that leg stiffness and RSI reflect different components of stretch-shortening cycle capability. Practitioners should consider these differences when planning training to maximize stretch-shortening cycle capability during growth and maturation in athletes on the developmental performance pathway.

De Ste Croix and Ayala are with the School of Sport and Exercise, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, United Kingdom. Lehnert, Maixnerova, and Psotta are with the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic. Ayala is also with the Centro de Investigacion del Deporte, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Elche, Spain.

De Ste Croix (mdestecroix@glos.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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