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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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Carlos Balsalobre-Fernández, Hovannes Agopyan and Jean-Benoit Morin

The purpose of this investigation was to analyze the validity of an iPhone application (Runmatic) for measuring running mechanics. To do this, 96 steps from 12 different runs at speeds ranging from 2.77–5.55 m·s−1 were recorded simultaneously with Runmatic, as well as with an opto-electronic device installed on a motorized treadmill to measure the contact and aerial time of each step. Additionally, several running mechanics variables were calculated using the contact and aerial times measured, and previously validated equations. Several statistics were computed to test the validity and reliability of Runmatic in comparison with the opto-electronic device for the measurement of contact time, aerial time, vertical oscillation, leg stiffness, maximum relative force, and step frequency. The running mechanics values obtained with both the app and the opto-electronic device showed a high degree of correlation (r = .94–.99, p < .001). Moreover, there was very close agreement between instruments as revealed by the ICC (2,1) (ICC = 0.965–0.991). Finally, both Runmatic and the opto-electronic device showed almost identical reliability levels when measuring each set of 8 steps for every run recorded. In conclusion, Runmatic has been proven to be a highly reliable tool for measuring the running mechanics studied in this work.

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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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Jean-Benoît Morin, Georges Dalleau, Heikki Kyröläinen, Thibault Jeannin and Alain Belli

The spring-mass model, representing a runner as a point mass supported by a single linear leg spring, has been a widely used concept in studies on running and bouncing mechanics. However, the measurement of leg and vertical stiffness has previously required force platforms and high-speed kinematic measurement systems that are costly and difficult to handle in field conditions. We propose a new “sine-wave” method for measuring stiffness during running. Based on the modeling of the force-time curve by a sine function, this method allows leg and vertical stiffness to be estimated from just a few simple mechanical parameters: body mass, forward velocity, leg length, flight time, and contact time. We compared this method to force-platform-derived stiffness measurements for treadmill dynamometer and overground running conditions, at velocities ranging from 3.33 m·s–1 to maximal running velocity in both recreational and highly trained runners. Stiffness values calculated with the proposed method ranged from 0.67% to 6.93% less than the force platform method, and thus were judged to be acceptable. Furthermore, significant linear regressions (p < 0.01) close to the identity line were obtained between force platform and sine-wave model values of stiffness. Given the limits inherent in the use of the spring-mass model, it was concluded that this sine-wave method allows leg and stiffness estimates in running on the basis of a few mechanical parameters, and could be useful in further field measurements.

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

We compared different approaches to analyze running mechanics alterations during repeated treadmill sprints. Thirteen active male athletes performed five 5-second sprints with 25 seconds of recovery on an instrumented treadmill. This approach allowed continuous measurement of running kinetics/kinematics and calculation of vertical and leg stiffness variables that were subsequently averaged over 3 distinct sections of the 5-second sprint (steps 2–5, 7–10, and 12–15) and for all steps (steps 2–15). Independently from the analyzed section, propulsive power and step frequency decreased with fatigue, while contact time and step length increased (P < .05). Except for step frequency, all mechanical variables varied (P < .05) across sprint sections. The only parameters that highly depend on running velocity (propulsive power and vertical stiffness) showed a significant interaction (P < .05) between the analyzed sections, with smaller magnitude of fatigue-induced change observed for steps 2–5. Considering all steps or only a few steps during early, middle, or late phases of 5-second sprints provides similar mechanical outcomes during repeated treadmill sprinting, although acceleration induces noticeable differences between the sections studied. Furthermore, quantifying mechanical alterations from the early acceleration phase may not be readily detectable, and is not recommended.