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Levels of Gnostic Functions in Top Karate Athletes—A Pilot Study

Tatiana Tapajcikova, Dávid Líška, Ladislav Batalik, Clea P. Tucker, and Alena Kobesova

High-quality sensory perception and body scheme (somatognosis) are important aspects for sport performance. This study compares stereognosis, body scheme, and kinesthesia in a group of 36 competitive karate athletes against a control group of 32 general population participants. The stereognosis Petrie test, two body scheme tests, and three kinesthesia tests served as outcome measurement tools. No significant difference was found in the stereognosis Petrie test, for the dominant (p = .389) or the nondominant (p = .791) hand, nor in the kinesthesia test (dominant, p = .661 and nondominant, p = .051). Karate athletes performed significantly better in the body scheme tests, that is, fist width estimation (p = .024) and shoulder width estimation (p = .019), as well as in karate-specific kinesthesia tests, that is, single punch (p = .010) and triple punch (p = .001). This study confirms competitive karate athletes have significantly better somatognosis, and better accuracy when performing quick dynamic movements compared with the general population.

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Optimality, Stability, and Agility of Human Movement: New Optimality Criterion and Trade-Offs

Mark L. Latash

This review of movement stability, optimality, and agility is based on the theory of motor control with changes in spatial referent coordinates for the effectors, the principle of abundance, and the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis. A new optimality principle is suggested based on the concept of optimal sharing corresponding to a vector in the space of elemental variables locally orthogonal to the uncontrolled manifold. Motion along this direction is associated with minimal components along the relatively unstable directions within the uncontrolled manifold leading to a minimal motor equivalent motion. For well-practiced actions, this task-specific criterion is followed in spaces of referent coordinates. Consequences of the suggested framework include trade-offs among stability, optimality, and agility, unintentional changes in performance, hand dominance, finger specialization, individual traits in performance, and movement disorders in neurological patients.

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Effects of 4 Weeks of Variability of Practice Training in Padel Double Right Wall: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Carolina Gutiérrez-Álvarez, Joshua Colomar, Ernest Baiget, Santos Villafaina, and Juan Pedro Fuentes-García

This study aimed to analyze the effect of a variable practice training in the double wall right forehand by using wrist weights. Thirty-four experienced padel players participated in this study. Players were randomly distributed in two groups (control group [CG] and training group [TG]). The TG performed 1 month of variable training, induced by weighted wrist bands, twice a week, with the same number of sessions and volume of training as the CG. TG obtained significant difference in posttest measurements (effect size = 0.437) in terms of the number of successful shots compared to CG (effect size = 0.027). These findings showed a significant effect of the TG with respect to the CG. Results reinforce the role of variability in the exploration and reinforcement of motor learning.

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Feasibility of Volitional Reaction Time Tests in Athletes: A Systematic Review

Danica Janicijevic and Amador Garcia-Ramos

This systematic review aimed to synthesize the current evidence on the feasibility of volitional reaction time (RT) tests to evaluate the information processing abilities of athletes. Four databases were searched, and, finally, 38 studies exploring the reliability, validity, or sensitivity of RT tests were included. Seven studies explored the reliability, which ranged from poor to excellent, while only three studies explored the validity of RT tests. The most important downside of the majority of the implemented RT tests is their nonspecific nature (i.e., stimulus and response did not resemble the sports actions). Sports scientists should focus on developing RT tests that are specific for each sport and refine the testing procedures to obtain accurate, reproducible, and sensitive measurements of RT.

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Exploring Sex Differences and Force Level Effects on Grip Force Perception in Healthy Adults

Yan-Xia Li, Lin Li, Zhi-Qiang Cai, Xu-Xue Zhou, Xiu-Jun Hao, and Li Li

This study aimed to explore the effect of sex and force level on grip force reproduction in healthy adults by conducting a force reproduction task. Participants (n = 28) were instructed to replicate a range of reference grip force levels (10–130 N in 10 N increments). We found that women (absolute error: 16.2 ± 8.7 N) replicated these force levels more accurately than men (absolute error: 23.1 ± 9.5 N) at higher force levels (90–130 N). Furthermore, the force reproductions were most accurate at the 30–50 N range for men and the 50–60 N range for women. These results may offer significant insights into the higher rates of musculoskeletal disorders among women, enabling researchers and clinicians to design novel interventions and tools that can improve grip force perception and reduce hand injury rates in both men and women.

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Kinetic Analysis of the Fingers Under Different Ball Velocities During Overarm Throwing

Shohei Shibata, Yuki Inaba, Shinsuke Yoshioka, and Senshi Fukashiro

The purpose of this study is to examine changes in the kinetic parameters of the fingers caused by differences in ball velocity during overarm throwing. Six baseball players participated in the study, and the kinetics of the wrist and metacarpophalangeal (MP) joint were calculated using an inverse dynamics method. The results of Tukey’s multiple comparison tests showed that the torque and work of the wrist increased with increasing ball velocity (p < .05), indicating that wrist torque and work contributed to the adjustment of ball velocity. Peak MP joint torque also increased with ball velocity (p < .05), although the work of the MP joint remained relatively constant. We conclude that MP joint torque and work contribute to the achievement of stable ball release rather than adjusting ball velocity.

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The Feasibility of Using the Virtual Time-to-Contact Measure of Postural Stability to Examine Postural Recovery in People With Diabetes Mellitus

Chia-Cheng Lin, Sunghan Kim, Paul DeVita, Matt Becker, and Stacey Meardon

This study aimed to examine the feasibility of using time-to-contact measures during the perturbation protocol in people with diabetes mellitus. Three-dimension motion capture and force data were collected during 0.5-s perturbations in four directions (forward, backward, right, and left) and at two accelerations (20 and 40 cm/s2) to compute the time-to-contact. Time-to-contact analysis was divided into three phases: perturbation, initial recovery, and final recovery. The statistical analysis showed the main effects of Direction and Phase (p < .01) as well as a Direction by Phase interaction (p < .01). Backward perturbation with lower acceleration and backward/forward perturbation with higher acceleration had deleterious effects on postural stability in people with diabetes mellitus.

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Effects of Soccer Exercise on Balance Ability and Kinesthesia of the Lower Limb Joints in Children Aged 5–6 Years

Kebin Shen and Yunxi Liu

Age-, height- and weight-matched children were recruited to the experimental group (EG; n = 31) and control group (n = 32). Following a 16-week soccer training program, balance ability and dominant-side lateral knee and ankle kinesthesia changes were tested. Regarding balance ability, the Sway Index, when children stood on a firm or foam surface with their eyes closed in the static balance test, and the dynamic balance test time were 13.5%, 11.6%, and 14.3% lower in the EG than in the control group, respectively. The scores in the left and right directions were 23.7% and 24.2% higher in the EG, respectively. Regarding kinesthesia, the angle of knee extension and ankle metatarsal flexion and dorsiflexion were 13.4%, 20.0%, and 16.8% lower in the EG than in the control group. These results indicate children in the EG had a better performance. After soccer exercise, children aged 5–6 years displayed improved balance in the left and right directions and improved knee extension, ankle plantarflexion, and dorsiflexion kinesthesia.

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Effect of Long-Term Classical Ballet Dance Training on Postactivation Depression of the Soleus Hoffmann-Reflex

Hiroki Obata, GeeHee Kim, Tetsuya Ogawa, Hirofumi Sekiguchi, and Kimitaka Nakazawa

Classical ballet dancing is a good model for studying the long-term activity-dependent plasticity of the central nervous system in humans, as it requires unique ankle movements to maintain ballet postures. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether postactivation depression is changed through long-term specific motor training. Eight ballet dancers and eight sedentary subjects participated in this study. The soleus Hoffmann reflexes were elicited at after the completion of a slow, passive dorsiflexion of the ankle. The results demonstrated that the depression of the soleus Hoffmann reflex (i.e., postactivation depression) was larger in classical ballet dancers than in sedentary subjects at two poststretch intervals. This suggests that the plastic change through long-term specific motor training is also expressed in postactivation depression of the soleus Hoffmann reflex. Increased postactivation depression would strengthen the supraspinal control of the plantarflexors and may contribute to fine ankle movements in classical ballet dancers.

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Target Constraints Influence Locomotion Pattern to the First Hurdle

Athanasia Smirniotou, Flora Panteli, and Apostolos Theodorou

The study examined to what extent the manipulation of hurdle height (0.76-m hurdle, low hurdle 0.50 m, and white stripe) would affect visual regulation strategies and kinematic reorganization when approaching the first hurdle. In addition, the impact of constraints as a training tool in terms of creating movement patterns functional for and representative of competitive movement models was assessed. The approach phase to the first hurdle of 13 physical education students with no previous experience in hurdling was video recorded and analyzed. Emergence of different footfall variability curves and movement coordination patterns suggests that participants interact differently with features of the performance context. Contrary to the white stripe, the hurdle height required participants to initiate regulation and distribute adjustments over a larger number of steps, and afforded the preparation for takeoff in order to clear the hurdle. In task design, manipulation of task constraints should offer valuable information regarding the dynamics of movement.