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Ryu Nagahara, Alberto Botter, Enrico Rejc, Masaaki Koido, Takeshi Shimizu, Pierre Samozino and Jean-Benoit Morin

Purpose:

To test the concurrent validity of data from 2 different global positioning system (GPS) units for obtaining mechanical properties during sprint acceleration using a field method recently validated by Samozino et al.

Methods:

Thirty-two athletes performed maximal straight-line sprints, and their running speed was simultaneously measured by GPS units (sampling rate: 20 or 5 Hz) and either a radar or laser device (devices taken as references). Lower-limb mechanical properties of sprint acceleration (theoretical maximal force, theoretical maximal speed, maximal power) were derived from a modeling of the speed–time curves using an exponential function in both measurements. Comparisons of mechanical properties from 20- and 5-Hz GPS units with those from reference devices were performed for 80 and 62 trials, respectively.

Results:

The percentage bias showed a wide range of overestimation or underestimation for both systems (-7.9% to 9.7% and -5.1% to 2.9% for 20- and 5-Hz GPS), while the ranges of its 90% confidence limits for 20-Hz GPS were markedly smaller than those for 5-Hz GPS. These results were supported by the correlation analyses.

Conclusions:

Overall, the concurrent validity for all variables derived from 20-Hz GPS measurements was better than that obtained from the 5-Hz GPS units. However, in the current state of GPS devices’ accuracy for speed–time measurements over a maximal sprint acceleration, it is recommended that radar, laser devices, and timing gates remain the reference methods for implementing the computations of Samozino et al.

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Jean-Benoît Morin, George Petrakos, Pedro Jiménez-Reyes, Scott R. Brown, Pierre Samozino and Matt R. Cross

Background:

Sprint running acceleration is a key feature of physical performance in team sports, and recent literature shows that the ability to generate large magnitudes of horizontal ground-reaction force and mechanical effectiveness of force application are paramount. The authors tested the hypothesis that very-heavy loaded sled sprint training would induce an improvement in horizontal-force production, via an increased effectiveness of application.

Methods:

Training-induced changes in sprint performance and mechanical outputs were computed using a field method based on velocity–time data, before and after an 8-wk protocol (16 sessions of 10- × 20-m sprints). Sixteen male amateur soccer players were assigned to either a very-heavy sled (80% body mass sled load) or a control group (unresisted sprints).

Results:

The main outcome of this pilot study is that very-heavy sled-resisted sprint training, using much greater loads than traditionally recommended, clearly increased maximal horizontal-force production compared with standard unloaded sprint training (effect size of 0.80 vs 0.20 for controls, unclear between-groups difference) and mechanical effectiveness (ie, more horizontally applied force; effect size of 0.95 vs –0.11, moderate between-groups difference). In addition, 5-m and 20-m sprint performance improvements were moderate and small for the very-heavy sled group and small and trivial for the control group, respectively.

Practical Applications:

This brief report highlights the usefulness of very-heavy sled (80% body mass) training, which may suggest value for practical improvement of mechanical effectiveness and maximal horizontal-force capabilities in soccer players and other team-sport athletes.

Results:

This study may encourage further research to confirm the usefulness of very-heavy sled in this context.

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Matt R. Cross, Matt Brughelli, Pierre Samozino, Scott R. Brown and Jean-Benoit Morin

Purpose:

To ascertain whether force-velocity-power relationships could be compiled from a battery of sled-resisted overground sprints and to clarify and compare the optimal loading conditions for maximizing power production for different athlete cohorts.

Methods:

Recreational mixed-sport athletes (n = 12) and sprinters (n = 15) performed multiple trials of maximal sprints unloaded and towing a selection of sled masses (20–120% body mass [BM]). Velocity data were collected by sports radar, and kinetics at peak velocity were quantified using friction coefficients and aerodynamic drag. Individual force–velocity and power–velocity relationships were generated using linear and quadratic relationships, respectively. Mechanical and optimal loading variables were subsequently calculated and test–retest reliability assessed.

Results:

Individual force–velocity and power–velocity relationships were accurately fitted with regression models (R 2 > .977, P < .001) and were reliable (ES = 0.05–0.50, ICC = .73–.97, CV = 1.0–5.4%). The normal loading that maximized peak power was 78% ± 6% and 82% ± 8% of BM, representing a resistance of 3.37 and 3.62 N/kg at 4.19 ± 0.19 and 4.90 ± 0.18 m/s (recreational athletes and sprinters, respectively). Optimal force and normal load did not clearly differentiate between cohorts, although sprinters developed greater maximal power (17.2–26.5%, ES = 0.97–2.13, P < .02) at much greater velocities (16.9%, ES = 3.73, P < .001).

Conclusions:

Mechanical relationships can be accurately profiled using common sled-training equipment. Notably, the optimal loading conditions determined in this study (69–96% of BM, dependent on friction conditions) represent much greater resistance than current guidelines (~7–20% of BM). This method has potential value in quantifying individualized training parameters for optimized development of horizontal power.

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Matt R. Cross, Matt Brughelli, Scott R. Brown, Pierre Samozino, Nicholas D. Gill, John B. Cronin and Jean-Benoît Morin

Purpose:

To compare mechanical properties of overground sprint running in elite rugby union and rugby league athletes.

Methods:

Thirty elite rugby code (15 rugby union and 15 rugby league) athletes participated in this cross-sectional analysis. Radar was used to measure maximal overground sprint performance over 20 or 30 m (forwards and backs, respectively). In addition to time at 2, 5, 10, 20, and 30 m, velocity-time signals were analyzed to derive external horizontal force–velocity relationships with a recently validated method. From this relationship, the maximal theoretical velocity, external relative and absolute horizontal force, horizontal power, and optimal horizontal force for peak power production were determined.

Results:

While differences in maximal velocity were unclear between codes, rugby union backs produced moderately faster split times, with the most substantial differences occurring at 2 and 5 m (ES 0.95 and 0.86, respectively). In addition, rugby union backs produced moderately larger relative horizontal force, optimal force, and peak power capabilities than rugby league backs (ES 0.73−0.77). Rugby union forwards had a higher absolute force (ES 0.77) despite having ~12% more body weight than rugby league forwards.

Conclusions:

In this elite sample, rugby union athletes typically displayed greater short-distance sprint performance, which may be linked to an ability to generate high levels of horizontal force and power. The acceleration characteristics presented in this study could be a result of the individual movement and positional demands of each code.

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Francis Degache, Jean-Benoît Morin, Lukas Oehen, Kenny Guex, Guido Giardini, Federico Schena, Guillaume Y. Millet and Grégoire P. Millet

The aim of study was to examine the effects of the world’s most challenging mountain ultramarathon (Tor des Géants [TdG]) on running mechanics. Mechanical measurements were undertaken in male runners (n = 16) and a control group (n = 8) before (PRE), during (MID), and after (POST) the TdG. Contact (t c) and aerial (t a) times, step frequency (f), and running velocity (v) were sampled. Spring-mass parameters of peak vertical ground-reaction force (F max), vertical downward displacement of the center of mass (Δz), leg-length change (ΔL), and vertical (k vert) and leg (k leg) stiffness were computed. Significant decreases were observed in runners between PRE and MID for t a (P < .001), F max (P < .001), Δz (P < .05), and k leg (P < .01). In contrast, f significantly increased (P < .05) between PRE and MID-TdG. No further changes were observed at POST for any of those variables, with the exception of k leg, which went back to PRE. During the TdG, experienced runners modified their running pattern and spring-mass behavior mainly during the first half. The current results suggest that these mechanical changes aim at minimizing the pain occurring in lower limbs mainly during the eccentric phases. One cannot rule out that this switch to a “safer” technique may also aim to anticipate further damages.

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Bruno Marrier, Yann Le Meur, Cédric Leduc, Julien Piscione, Mathieu Lacome, Germain Igarza, Christophe Hausswirth, Jean-Benoît Morin and Julien Robineau

Purpose: To describe the training periodization in rugby sevens players competing in the World Rugby Sevens Series during a non-Olympic season. Methods: Workload data were collected over a 33-wk period in 12 male players participating in a full competitive season. Workload was quantified using session rating of perceived exertion and global positioning system–derived data during training and competition. Self-reported well-being was assessed using a questionnaire. Each variable was analyzed weekly and through 5 mesocycles (preseason, in-season 1–4), each of which ended with competition blocks. Results: The perceived load decreased throughout the season for the full squad (−68% [26%] between preseason and final competitive block, large effect) and when unavailable players were removed from the analysis (−38% [42%], moderate). Weekly perceived load was highly variable, with a typical periodization in 4 phases during each mesocycle (regeneration, training overload, taper, and competition). During the preseason, the workload was higher during the overload training phase than during the competitive period (range: +23% to +59%, large to very large, for the distance covered above individual maximal aerobic speed and the number of accelerations). This observation no longer persisted during the season. The well-being score decreased almost certainly from in-season 3 (moderate). Conclusions: These results highlighted the apparent difficulty in maintaining high-load training periods throughout the season in players engaged on the World Rugby Sevens Series despite ∼4–7 training weeks separating each competitive block. This observation was likely explained by the difficulties inherent to the World Rugby Sevens Series (risk of contact injury, calendar, and multiple long-haul travel episodes) and potentially by limited squad-rotation policies.

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Scott R. Brown, Erin R. Feldman, Matt R. Cross, Eric R. Helms, Bruno Marrier, Pierre Samozino and Jean-Benoît Morin

The global application of horizontal force (F H) via hip extension is related to improvements in sprint performance (eg, maximal velocity [v max] and power [P max]). Little is known regarding the contribution of individual leg F H and how a difference between the legs (asymmetry) might subsequently affect sprint performance. The authors assessed a single male athlete for pre-post outcomes of a targeted hip-extension training program on F H asymmetry and sprint-performance metrics. An instrumented nonmotorized treadmill was used to obtain individual leg and global sprint kinetics and determine the athlete’s strong and weak leg, with regard to the ability to produce F H while sprinting. Following a 6-wk control block of testing, a 6-wk targeted training program was added to the athlete’s strength-training regimen, which aimed to strengthen the weak leg and improve hip-extension function during sprinting. Preintervention to postintervention, the athlete increased F H (standardized effect [ES] = 2.2; +26%) in his weak leg, decreased the F H asymmetry (ES = −0.64; −19%), and increased v max (ES = 0.67; +2%) and P max (ES = 3.2; +15%). This case study highlighted a promising link between a targeted training intervention to decrease asymmetry in F H and subsequent improvement of sprint-performance metrics. These findings also strengthen the theoretical relationship between the contribution of individual leg F H and global F H while sprinting, indicating that reducing asymmetry may decrease injury risk and increase practical performance measures. This case study may stimulate further research investigating targeted training interventions in the field of strength and conditioning and injury prevention.

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Pedro Jiménez-Reyes, Pierre Samozino, Fernando Pareja-Blanco, Filipe Conceição, Víctor Cuadrado-Peñafiel, Juan José González-Badillo and Jean-Benoît Morin

Purpose:

To analyze the reliability and validity of a simple computation method to evaluate force (F), velocity (v), and power (P) output during a countermovement jump (CMJ) suitable for use in field conditions and to verify the validity of this computation method to compute the CMJ force–velocity (Fv) profile (including unloaded and loaded jumps) in trained athletes.

Methods:

Sixteen high-level male sprinters and jumpers performed maximal CMJs under 6 different load conditions (0–87 kg). A force plate sampling at 1000 Hz was used to record vertical ground-reaction force and derive vertical-displacement data during CMJ trials. For each condition, mean F, v, and P of the push-off phase were determined from both force-plate data (reference method) and simple computation measures based on body mass, jump height (from flight time), and push-off distance and used to establish the linear Fv relationship for each individual.

Results:

Mean absolute bias values were 0.9% (± 1.6%), 4.7% (± 6.2%), 3.7% (± 4.8%), and 5% (± 6.8%) for F, v, P, and slope of the Fv relationship (SFv), respectively. Both methods showed high correlations for Fv-profile-related variables (r = .985–.991). Finally, all variables computed from the simple method showed high reliability, with ICC >.980 and CV <1.0%.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that the simple method presented here is valid and reliable for computing CMJ force, velocity, power, and Fv profiles in athletes and could be used in practice under field conditions when body mass, push-off distance, and jump height are known.

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Matt R. Cross, Farhan Tinwala, Seth Lenetsky, Scott R. Brown, Matt Brughelli, Jean-Benoit Morin and Pierre Samozino

The assessment of horizontal force during overground sprinting is increasingly prevalent in practice and research, stemming from advances in technology and access to simplified yet valid field methods. As researchers search out optimal means of targeting the development of horizontal force, there is considerable interest in the effectiveness of external resistance. Increasing attention in research provides more information surrounding the biomechanics of sprinting in general and insight into the potential methods of developing determinant capacities. However, there is a general lack of consensus on the assessment and computation of horizontal force under resistance, which has resulted in a confusing narrative surrounding the practical applicability of loading parameters for performance enhancement. As such, the aim of this commentary was twofold: to provide a clear narrative of the assessment and computation of horizontal force in resisted sprinting and to clarify and discuss the impact of methodological approaches to subsequent training implementation. Horizontal force computation during resisted sleds, a common sprint-training apparatus in the field, is used as a test case to illustrate the risks associated with substandard methodological practices and improperly accounting for the effects of friction. A practical and operational synthesis is provided to help guide researchers and practitioners in selecting appropriate resistance methods. Finally, an outline of future challenges is presented to aid the development of these approaches.

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Bruno Marrier, Julien Robineau, Julien Piscione, Mathieu Lacome, Alexis Peeters, Christophe Hausswirth, Jean-Benoît Morin and Yann Le Meur

Peaking for major competition is considered critical for maximizing team-sport performance. However, there is little scientific information available to guide coaches in prescribing efficient tapering strategies for team-sport players.

Purpose:

To monitor the changes in physical performance in elite team-sport players during a 3-wk taper after a preseason training camp.

Methods:

Ten male international rugby sevens players were tested before (Pre) and after (Post) a 4-wk preseason training camp focusing on high-intensity training and strength training with moderate loads and once each week during a subsequent 3-wk taper. During each testing session, midthigh-pull maximal strength, sprint-acceleration mechanical outputs, and performance, as well as repeated-sprint ability (RSA), were assessed.

Results:

At Post, no single peak performance was observed for maximal lower-limb force output and sprint performance, while RSA peaked for only 1 athlete. During the taper, 30-m-sprint time decreased almost certainly (–3.1% ± 0.9%, large), while maximal lower-limb strength and RSA, respectively, improved very likely (+7.7% ± 5.3%, small) and almost certainly (+9.0% ± 2.6%, moderate). Of the peak performances, 70%, 80%, and 80% occurred within the first 2 wk of taper for RSA, maximal force output, and sprint performance, respectively.

Conclusions:

These results show the sensitivity of physical qualities to tapering in rugby sevens players and suggest that an ~1- to 2-wk tapering time frame appears optimal to maximize the overall physical-performance response.