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William P. Berg and Michael R. Hughes

Muscle activation was measured using EMG in 28 males (n = 28) while participants caught visually identical balls of known and unknown weights (50, 1.32, 2.18, and 2.99 kg) under variable (1–10s) and constant (3s) foreperiods. EMG integrals were computed for three time intervals before the catch (anticipatory), and one after (compensatory). Load uncertainty caused the CNS to use an anticipatory strategy characterized by preparation to catch balls of an unknown weight by utilizing about 92% of the muscle activation used to catch the heaviest possible ball under the known weight condition. The CNS appeared to scale anticipatory muscle activation to afford an opportunity to catch a ball of an unknown weight between .50 and 2.99 kg. The constant 3s foreperiod, which permitted temporal anticipation, did not influence the anticipatory neuromotor strategy adopted by the CNS to cope with load uncertainty. Load uncertainty also altered compensatory neuromotor control in catching.

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Michael C. Rumpf, John B. Cronin, Jonathan Oliver and Michael Hughes

Sprinting is an important physical capacity and the development of sprint ability can take place throughout the athlete’s growth. The purpose of this study therefore was to determine if the kinematics and kinetics associated with maximum sprint velocity differs in male youth participants of different maturity status (pre, mid- and postpeak height velocity (PHV)) and if maximum sprint velocity is determined by age, maturity or individual body size measurement. Participants (n = 74) sprinted over 30 meters on a nonmotorized treadmill and the fastest four consecutive steps were analyzed. Pre-PHV participants were found to differ significantly (p < .05) to mid- and post-PHV participants in speed, step length, step frequency, vertical and horizontal force, and horizontal power (~8-78%). However, only relative vertical force and speed differed significantly between mid and post-PHV groups. The greatest average percent change in kinetics and kinematics was observed from pre- to mid-PHV (37.8%) compared with mid- to post- PHV groups (11.6%). When maturity offset was entered as a covariate, there was no significant difference in velocity between the three groups. However, all groups were significantly different from each other when age was chosen as the covariate. The two best predictors of maximal velocity within each maturity group were power and horizontal force (R 2 = 97−99%) indicating the importance of horizontal force application while sprinting. Finally, maturity explained 83% of maximal velocity across all groups.

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Michael C. Rumpf, John B. Cronin, Jon L. Oliver and Michael Hughes

The primary purpose of this paper was to provide insight into the methodological issues and associated reliability of assessments used to quantify running sprint ability in youth athletes aged 8–18 years. Over-ground sprinting was the most reliable and common used choice of assessment to measure sprint performance of youth. In addition, the performance data of those athletes over distances ranging from 5 to 40 meters was collated from 34 published articles and tabulated with regards to the athlete’s chronological age. Torque or nonmotorized treadmills have been used to quantify sprint performance in youth with acceptable reliability, this technology providing deeper insight into sprint kinetics and kinematics; however there is limited performance data on youth using the torque and the nonmotorized treadmill. It is suggested that future research should use this technology in youth to better understand changes associated with growth, maturation and training.

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Michael C. Rumpf, John B. Cronin, Shane D. Pinder, Jon Oliver and Michael Hughes

The primary purpose of this paper was to provide insight into the effect of different training methods on sprinting time in male youth aged 8–18 years. Specific and nonspecific training methods were identified, the participants of the fiveteen studies chategorized into pre, mid- and postpeak height velocity and effect sizes and percent changes calculated for each training method were appropriate. Plyometric training had the most effect on sprint times in pre- and midpeak height velocity participants, while combined training methods were the most efficient in postpeak height velocity participants. However, it is difficult to quantify the effects of different training methods due to the limited knowledge in this area e.g., resisted training on pre-PHV participants. Furthermore, it may be worthwhile to investigate additional variables (i.e., stride length, stride frequency, horizontal force), to better determine effect of training methods in different maturity statuses, the development of sprinting and possible stages where individual development can be optimized by training.

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Michael Clemens Rumpf, John Barry Cronin, Ikhwan Nur Mohamad, Sharil Mohamad, Jonathan Oliver and Michael Hughes

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of 2.5, 5, 7.5, and 10% body mass load on resisted sled towing 30 meter sprint times in male youth athletes of different maturity status. A total of 35 athletes (19 prepeak-height-velocity (PHV) and 16 mid/post-PHV) sprinted three times in an unloaded and each of the loaded conditions. The pre-PHV athletes were significantly slower (~33%; p < .05) than the more mature athletes across all loads (unloaded, 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10% body mass). Each incremental load (i.e., 2.5% body mass) was found to reduce 30 m sprint times by 3.70% (± 2.59) and 2.45% (± 1.48) for the pre- and mid/post-PHV respectively. The slopes of the pre- (y = 0.09 x + 5.71) and mid/post (y = 0.04 x + 4.38) regression equations were compared and found to be statistically different (p = .004) suggesting that athletes of different maturity status responded differentially to the same relative resisted sprint load. Ten percent body mass load resulted in a reduced sprint time of ~15.8 and ~9.8% for the pre- and mid/post-PHV group, respectively. These results enable predictive equations to be formulated and appropriate resisted sprint loading, based on the intended focus of a session.

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Robert W. Meyers, Jon L. Oliver, Michael G. Hughes, Rhodri S. Lloyd and John B. Cronin

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to examine the influence of age and maturation upon magnitude of asymmetry in the force, stiffness and the spatiotemporal determinants of maximal sprint speed in a large cohort of boys.

Methods:

344 boys between the ages of 11 and 16 years completed an anthropometric assessment and a 35 m sprint test, during which sprint performance was recorded via a ground-level optical measurement system. Maximal sprint velocity, as well as asymmetry in spatiotemporal variables, modeled force and stiffness data were established for each participant. For analysis, participants were grouped into chronological age, maturation and percentile groups.

Results:

The range of mean asymmetry across age groups and variables was 2.3–12.6%. The magnitude of asymmetry in all the sprint variables was not significantly different across age and maturation groups (p > .05), except relative leg stiffness (p < .05). No strong relationships between asymmetry in sprint variables and maximal sprint velocity were evident (rs < .39).

Conclusion:

These results provide a novel benchmark for the expected magnitude of asymmetry in a large cohort of uninjured boys during maximal sprint performance. Asymmetry in sprint performance is largely unaffected by age or maturation and no strong relationships exist between the magnitude of asymmetry and maximal sprint velocity.

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Robert W. Meyers, Jonathan L. Oliver, Michael G. Hughes, John B. Cronin and Rhodri S. Lloyd

The purpose of this study was to examine the natural development of the mechanical features of sprint performance in relation to maturation within a large cohort of boys. Three hundred and thirty-six boys (11-15 years) were analyzed for sprint performance and maturation. Maximal speed, stride length (SL), stride frequency (SF), flight time (FT) and contact time (CT) were assessed during a 30m sprint. Five maturation groups (G1-5) were established based on age from peak height velocity (PHV) where G1=>2.5years pre-PHV, G2 = 2.49-1.5years pre-PHV, G3 = 1.49-0.5years pre-PHV, G4 = 0.49years pre- to 0.5years post-PHV and G5 = 0.51-1.5years post-PHV. There was no difference in maximal speed between G1, G2 and G3 but those in G4 and G5 were significantly faster (p < .05) than G1-3. Significant increases (p < .05) in SL were observed between groups with advancing maturation, except G4 and G5 (p > .05). SF decreased while CT increased (both p < .05) between G1, G2 and G3, but no further significant changes (p > .05) were observed for either variable between G3, G4 and G5. While G1-3 increased their SL, concomitant decreases in SF and increases in CT prevented them from improving maximal speed. Maximal sprint speed appears to develop around and post-PHV as SF and CT begin to stabilize, with increases in maximal sprint speed in maturing boys being underpinned by increasing SL.

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Robert W. Meyers, Jon L. Oliver, Michael G. Hughes, Rhodri S. Lloyd and John Cronin

The purpose of this study was to examine the reliability of the spatiotemporal determinants of maximal sprinting speed in boys over single and multiple steps. Fifty-four adolescent boys (age = 14.1 ± 0.7 years [range = 12.9–15.7 years]; height = 1.63 ± 0.09 m; body mass = 55.3 ± 13.3 kg; -0.31 ± 0.90 age from Peak Height Velocity (PHV) in years; mean ± s) volunteered to complete a 30 m sprint test on 3 occasions over a 2-week period. Speed, step length, step frequency, contact time, and flight time were assessed via an optical measurement system. Speed and step characteristics were obtained from the single-fastest step and average of the 2 and 4 fastest consecutive steps. Pairwise comparison of consecutive trials revealed the coefficient of variation (CV) for speed was greater in 4-step (CV = 7.3 & 7.5%) compared with 2-step (CV = 4.2 & 4.1%) and 1-step (CV = 4.8 & 4.6%) analysis. The CV of step length, step frequency and contact time ranged from 4.8 to 7.5% for 1-step, 3.8–5.0% for 2-step and 4.2–7.5% for 4-step analyses across all trials. An acceptable degree of reliability was achieved for the spatiotemporal and performance variables assessed in this study. Two-step analysis demonstrated the highest degree of reliability for the key spatiotemporal variables, and therefore may be the most suitable approach to monitor the spatiotemporal characteristics of maximal sprint speed in boys.

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Keeron J. Stone, Jonathan L. Oliver, Michael G. Hughes, Michael R. Stembridge, Daniel J. Newcombe and Robert W. Meyers

Existing procedures for the simulation of soccer match play fail to incorporate multidirectional and repeated-sprint activities, even though these movements are considered fundamental to match play. In the current study, selected physiological and performance responses were assessed during an adapted version of an existing soccer simulation protocol. Mean heart rates of 163 ± 14 beats·min–1, mean blood lactates of 4.9 ± 2.3 mmol·L-1 and decrements in single-sprint and repeated-sprint performances were observed. The presented adaptations to an existing soccer simulation protocol better reflect the movement characteristics as well as the physiological and performance responses of soccer match play.