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Jean-Benoît Morin and Pierre Samozino

Recent studies have brought new insights into the evaluation of power-force-velocity profiles in both ballistic push-offs (eg, jumps) and sprint movements. These are major physical components of performance in many sports, and the methods the authors developed and validated are based on data that are now rather simple to obtain in field conditions (eg, body mass, jump height, sprint times, or velocity). The promising aspect of these approaches is that they allow for more individualized and accurate evaluation, monitoring, and training practices, the success of which is highly dependent on the correct collection, generation, and interpretation of athletes’ mechanical outputs. The authors therefore wanted to provide a practical vade mecum to sports practitioners interested in implementing these power-force-velocity–profiling approaches. After providing a summary of theoretical and practical definitions for the main variables, the authors first detail how vertical profiling can be used to manage ballistic push-off performance, with emphasis on the concept of optimal force–velocity profile and the associated force–velocity imbalance. Furthermore, they discuss these same concepts with regard to horizontal profiling in the management of sprinting performance. These sections are illustrated by typical examples from the authors’ practice. Finally, they provide a practical and operational synthesis and outline future challenges that will help further develop these approaches.

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Johan Cassirame, Hervé Sanchez and Jean-Benoit Morin

Background: Approach speed is a major determinant of pole-vault performance. Athletic jump events such as long jump, triple jump, and pole vault can utilize an elevated track for the runway. Feedback from athletes indicates a benefit of using an elevated track on their results. However, there is no evidence that elevated tracks increase athletes’ performance. Purpose: To investigate the potential advantage of using an elevated track during elite pole-vault competitions on run-up speed parameters. Methods: Performance and run-up criteria (speed, stride rate, contact, and aerial time) were measured from 20 high-level male pole-vaulters during official competitions on either a regular or an elevated track. Parameters comparisons were made between both conditions, and run-up parameters were confronted to speed modification on the elevated track. Results: Statistical analyses indicated that for the elevated track, there was a small improvement in final speed (1.1%), stride rate (1.1%), and takeoff distance (3.1%) and a small reduction in aerial time (−1.9%). The study highlighted different individual responses depending on athletes’ capabilities. The authors noted that speed improvement was largely correlated with stride-rate improvement (r = .61) and contact-time reduction (r = −.51) for slower athletes. Conclusions: Elevated tracks can increase final approach speed in pole vault and positively influence performance. Interindividual responses were observed in these findings.

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Ryu Nagahara, Jean-Benoit Morin and Masaaki Koido

Purpose:

To assess soccer-specific impairment of mechanical properties in accelerated sprinting and its relation with activity profiles during an actual match.

Methods:

Thirteen male field players completed 4 sprint measurements, wherein running speed was obtained using a laser distance-measurement system, before and after the 2 halves of 2 soccer matches. Macroscopic mechanical properties (theoretical maximal horizontal force [F0], maximal horizontal sprinting power [Pmax], and theoretical maximal sprinting velocity [V0]) during the 35-m sprint acceleration were calculated from speed–time data. Players’ activity profiles during the matches were collected using global positioning system units.

Results:

After the match, although F0 and Pmax did not significantly change, V0 was reduced (P = .038), and the magnitude of this reduction correlated with distance (positive) and number (negative) of high-speed running, number of running (negative), and other low-intensity activity distance (negative) during the match. Moreover, Pmax decreased immediately before the second half (P = .014).

Conclusions:

The results suggest that soccer-specific fatigue probably impairs players’ maximal velocity capabilities more than their maximal horizontal force-production abilities at initial acceleration. Furthermore, long-distance running, especially at high speed, during the match may induce relatively large impairment of maximal velocity capabilities. In addition, the capability of producing maximal horizontal power during sprinting is presumably impaired during halftime of a soccer match with passive recovery. These findings could be useful for players and coaches aiming to train effectively to maintain sprinting performance throughout a soccer match when planning a training program.

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Abderrahmane Rahmani, Pierre Samozino, Jean-Benoit Morin and Baptiste Morel

Purpose: To analyze the reliability and validity of a field computation method based on easy-to-measure data to assess the mean force (F¯) and velocity (v¯) produced during a ballistic bench-press movement and to verify that the force–velocity profile (F–v) obtained with multiple loaded trials is accurately described. Methods: Twelve participants performed ballistic bench presses against various lifted mass from 30% to 70% of their body mass. For each trial, F¯ and v¯ were determined from an accelerometer (sampling rate 500 Hz; reference method) and a simple computation method based on upper-limb mass, barbell flight height, and push-off distance. These F¯ and v¯ data were used to establish the F–v relationship for each individual and method. Results: A strong to almost perfect reliability was observed between the 2 trials (ICC > .90 for F¯ and .80 for v¯, CV% < 10%), whatever the considered method. The mechanical variables (F¯, v¯) measured with the 2 methods and all the variables extrapolated from the F–v relationships were strongly correlated (r 2 > .80, P < .001). The practical differences between the methods for the extrapolated mechanical parameters were all <5%, indicating very probably no differences. Conclusion: The findings suggest that the simple computation method used here provides valid and reliable information on force and velocity produced during ballistic bench press, in line with that observed in laboratory conditions. This simple method is thus a practical tool, requiring only 3 simple parameters (upper-limb mass, barbell flight height, and push-off distance).

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Katja Tomazin, Jean-Benoit Morin and Guillaume Y. Millet

Purpose:

To compare neuromuscular fatigue induced by repeated-sprint running vs cycling.

Methods:

Eleven active male participants performed 2 repeated-maximal-sprint protocols (5×6 s, 24-s rest periods, 4 sets, 3 min between sets), 1 in running (treadmill) and 1 in cycling (cycle ergometer). Neuromuscular function, evaluated before (PRE); 30 s after the first (S1), the second (S2), and the last set (LAST); and 5 min after the last set (POST5) determined the knee-extensor maximal voluntary torque (MVC); voluntary activation (VA); single-twitch (Tw), high- (Db100), and low- (Db10) frequency torque; and maximal muscle compound action potential (M-wave) amplitude and duration of vastus lateralis.

Results:

Peak power output decreased from 14.6 ± 2.2 to 12.4 ± 2.5 W/kg in cycling (P < .01) and from 21.4 ± 2.6 to 15.2 ± 2.6 W/kg in running (P < .001). MVC declined significantly from S1 in running but only from LAST in cycling. VA decreased after S2 (~–7%, P < .05) and LAST (~–9%, P < .01) set in repeated-sprint running and did not change in cycling. Tw, Db100, and Db10/Db100 decreased to a similar extent in both protocols (all P < .001 post-LAST). Both protocols induced a similar level of peripheral fatigue (ie, low-frequency peripheral fatigue, no changes in M-wave characteristics), while underlying mechanisms probably differed. Central fatigue was found only after running.

Conclusion:

Findings about neuromuscular fatigue resulting from RS cycling cannot be transferred to RS running.

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Olivier Girard, Franck Brocherie, Jean-Benoit Morin and Grégoire P. Millet

Purpose:

To determine the intrasession and intersession (ie, within- and between-days) reliability in treadmill sprinting-performance outcomes and associated running mechanics.

Methods:

After familiarization, 13 male recreational sportsmen (team- and racket-sport background) performed three 5-s sprints on an instrumented treadmill with 2 min recovery on 3 different days, 5–7 d apart. Intrasession (comparison of the 3 sprints of the first session) and intersession (comparison of the average of the 3 sprints across days) reliability of performance, kinetics, kinematics, and spring-mass variables were assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and coefficients of variation (CV%).

Results:

Intrasession reliability was high (ICC > .94 and CV < 8%). Intersession reliability was good for performance indices (.83 < ICC < .89 and CV < 10%, yet with larger variability for mean velocity than for distance covered or propulsive power) and kinetic parameters (ICC > .94 and CV < 5%, yet with larger variability for mean horizontal forces than for mean vertical forces) and ranged from good to high for all kinematic (.88 < ICC < .95 and CV ≤ 3.5%) and spring-mass variables (.86 < ICC < .99 and CV ≤ 6.5%). Compared with intrasession, minimal detectable differences were on average twice larger for intersession designs, except for sprint kinetics.

Conclusion:

Instrumented treadmill sprint offers a reliable method of assessing running mechanics during single sprints either within the same session or between days.

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Pierre Samozino, Jean Romain Rivière, Jérémy Rossi, Jean-Benoit Morin and Pedro Jimenez-Reyes

Velocity strength training requires exercise modalities that allow athletes to reach very high movement velocity, which is limited during vertical movements involving body weight. Purpose: To quantify the mechanical outputs developed during horizontal squat jumps (HSJs), notably the movement velocity, in comparison with vertical squat jumps (SJs) with and without loads. Methods: Thirteen healthy male athletes performed SJs without additional loads (SJ0) and with a load of ∼60% of body mass (SJ60), and during HSJs performed lying on a roller device with (assisted HSJ [AHSJ]) and without (HSJ) rubber-band assistance. Instantaneous lower-limb extension velocity, force, and power output were measured and averaged over the push-off phase. Results: The force was significantly higher during SJ60 than during SJ0, which was higher than during HSJ and AHSJ. Extension velocity was significantly different across all conditions, with 0.86 (0.07), 1.29 (0.10), 1.59 (0.19), and 1.83 (0.19) m·s−1 for SJ60, SJ0, HSJ, and AHSJ conditions, respectively. Differences in force and velocity values between SJ0 and the other conditions were large to extremely large. Differences were observed in power values only between SJ60 and SJ0, SJ60 and AHSJ, and SJ0 and HSJ. Conclusions: HSJ modalities allow athletes to reach very to extremely largely greater lower-limb extension velocities (HSJ +24.0% [16%], AHSJ +42.8% [17.4%]) compared to those achieved during SJ0. HSJ and AHSJ modalities are inexpensive and practical modalities to train limb-extension velocity capabilities, that is, the ability of the neuromuscular system to produce force at high contraction velocities.

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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.