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Sophia Nimphius and Matthew J. Jordan

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Tania Spiteri, Nicolas H. Hart, and Sophia Nimphius

The aim of this study was to compare biomechanical and perceptual-cognitive variables between sexes during an offensive and defensive agility protocol. Twelve male and female (n = 24) recreational team sport athletes participated in this study, each performing 12 offensive and defensive agility trials (6 left, 6 right) changing direction in response to movements of a human stimulus. Three-dimensional motion, ground reaction force (GRF), and impulse data were recorded across plant phase for dominant leg change of direction (COD) movements, while timing gates and high-speed video captured decision time, total running time, and post COD stride velocity. Subjects also performed a unilateral isometric squat to determine lower body strength and limb dominance. Group (sex) by condition (2 × 2) MANOVAs with follow-up ANOVAs were conducted to examine differences between groups (P ≤ .05). Male athletes demonstrated significantly greater lower body strength, vertical braking force and impulse application, knee and spine flexion, and hip abduction, as well as faster decision time and post COD stride velocity during both agility conditions compared with females. Differences between offensive and defensive movements appear to be attributed to differences in decision time between sexes. This study demonstrates that biomechanical and perceptual-cognitive differences exist between sexes and within offensive and defensive agility movements.

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Timo Rantalainen, Nicolas H. Hart, Sophia Nimphius, and Daniel W. Wundersitz

Inertial measurement units (IMU) provide a convenient tool for gait stability assessment. However, it is unclear how various gait characteristics relate to each other and whether gait characteristics can be obtained from resultant acceleration. Therefore, step duration variability was measured in treadmill walking from 39 young ambulant volunteers (age 24.2 [± 2.5] y; height 1.79 [± 0.09] m; mass 71.6 [± 12.0] kg) using motion capture. Accelerations and gyrations were simultaneously recorded with an IMU. Harmonic ratio, maximum Lyapunov exponents, and multiscale sample entropy (MSE) were calculated. Step duration variability was positively associated with MSE with coarseness levels = 3–6 (r = –.33 to –.42, P ≤ .045). Harmonic ratio and MSE with all coarseness levels were negatively associated (r = –.45 to –.57, P ≤ .004). The MSE with coarseness level = 2 was negatively associated with short-term maximum Lyapunov exponents (r = –.32, P = .047). The agreement between resultant and vertical acceleration derived gait characteristics was excellent (ICC = 0.97–0.99). In conclusion, MSE with varying coarseness levels was associated with the other gait characteristics evaluated in the study. Resultant and vertical acceleration derived results had excellent agreement, which suggests that resultant acceleration is a viable alternative to considering the acceleration dimensions independently.

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Samuel J. Callaghan, Robert G. Lockie, Walter Yu, Warren A. Andrews, Robert F. Chipchase, and Sophia Nimphius

Purpose: To investigate whether changes in delivery length (ie, short, good, and full) lead to alterations in whole-body biomechanical loading as determined by ground reaction force during front-foot contact of the delivery stride for pace bowlers. Current load-monitoring practices of pace bowling in cricket assume equivocal biomechanical loading as only the total number of deliveries are monitored irrespective of delivery length. Methods: A total of 16 male pace bowlers completed a 2-over spell at maximum intensity while targeting different delivery lengths (short, 7–10 m; good, 4–7 m; and full, 0–4 m from the batter’s stumps). In-ground force plates were used to determine discrete (vertical and braking force, impulse, and loading rates) and continuous front-foot contact ground reaction force. Repeated-measures analysis of variance (P < .05), effects size, and statistical parametrical mapping were used to determine differences between delivery lengths. Results: There were no significant differences between short, good, and full delivery lengths for the discrete and continuous kinetic variables investigated (P = .19–1.00), with trivial to small effect sizes. Conclusion: There were minimal differences in front-foot contact biomechanics for deliveries of different lengths (ie, short, good, and full). These data reinforce current pace bowling load-monitoring practices (ie, counting the number of deliveries), as changes in delivery length do not affect the whole-body biomechanical loading experienced by pace bowlers. This is of practical importance as it retains simplicity in load-monitoring practice that is used widely across different competition levels and ages.

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Joseph O.C. Coyne, Sophia Nimphius, Robert U. Newton, and G. Gregory Haff

Purpose: Criticisms of the acute to chronic workload ratio (ACWR) have been that the mathematical coupling inherent in the traditional calculation of the ACWR results in a spurious correlation. The purposes of this commentary are (1) to examine how mathematical coupling causes spurious correlations and (2) to use a case study from actual monitoring data to determine how mathematical coupling affects the ACWR. Methods: Training and competition workload (TL) data were obtained from international-level open-skill (basketball) and closed-skill (weightlifting) athletes before their respective qualifying tournaments for the 2016 Olympic Games. Correlations between acute TL, chronic TL, and the ACWR as coupled/uncoupled variations were examined. These variables were also compared using both rolling averages and exponentially weighted moving averages to account for any potential benefits of one calculation method over another. Results: Although there were some significant differences between coupled and uncoupled chronic TL and ACWR data, the effect sizes of these differences were almost all trivial (g = 0.04–0.21). Correlations ranged from r = .55 to .76, .17 to .53, and .88 to .99 for acute to chronic TL, acute to uncoupled chronic TL, and ACWR to uncoupled ACWR, respectively. Conclusions: There may be low risk of mathematical coupling causing spurious correlations in the TL–injury-risk relationship. Varying levels of correlation seem to exist naturally between acute and chronic TL variables regardless of coupling. The trivial to small effect sizes and large to nearly perfect correlations between coupled and uncoupled AWCRs also imply that mathematical coupling may have little effect on either calculation method, if practitioners choose to apply the ACWR for TL monitoring purposes.

Open access

Joseph O.C. Coyne, Sophia Nimphius, Robert U. Newton, and G. Gregory Haff

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Josh L. Secomb, Sophia Nimphius, Oliver R.L. Farley, Lina Lundgren, Tai T. Tran, and Jeremy M. Sheppard

Purpose:

To identify whether there are any significant differences in the lower-body muscle structure and countermovement-jump (CMJ) and squat-jump (SJ) performance between stronger and weaker surfing athletes.

Methods:

Twenty elite male surfers had their lower-body muscle structure assessed with ultrasonography and completed a series of lower-body strength and jump tests including isometric midthigh pull (IMTP), CMJ, and SJ. Athletes were separated into stronger (n = 10) and weaker (n = 10) groups based on IMTP performance.

Results:

Large significant differences were identified between the groups for vastus lateralis (VL) thickness (P = .02, ES = 1.22) and lateral gastrocnemius (LG) pennation angle (P = .01, ES = 1.20), and a large nonsignificant difference was identified in LG thickness (P = .08, ES = 0.89). Furthermore, significant differences were present between the groups for peak force, relative peak force, and jump height in the CMJ and SJ (P < .01−.05, ES = 0.90−1.47) and eccentric peak velocity, as well as vertical displacement of the center of mass during the CMJ (P < .01, ES = 1.40−1.41).

Conclusion:

Stronger surfing athletes in this study had greater VL and LG thickness and LG pennation angle. These muscle structures may explain their better performance in the CMJ and SJ. A unique finding in this study was that the stronger group appeared to better use their strength and muscle structure for braking as they had significantly higher eccentric peak velocity and vertical displacement during the CMJ. This enhanced eccentric phase may have resulted in a greater production and subsequent utilization of stored elastic strain energy that led to the significantly better CMJ performance in the stronger group.

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James J. Tufano, Jenny A. Conlon, Sophia Nimphius, Lee E. Brown, Laurent B. Seitz, Bryce D. Williamson, and G. Gregory Haff

Purpose:

To compare the effects of a traditional set structure and 2 cluster set structures on force, velocity, and power during back squats in strength-trained men.

Methods:

Twelve men (25.8 ± 5.1 y, 1.74 ± 0.07 m, 79.3 ± 8.2 kg) performed 3 sets of 12 repetitions at 60% of 1-repetition maximum using 3 different set structures: traditional sets (TS), cluster sets of 4 (CS4), and cluster sets of 2 (CS2).

Results:

When averaged across all repetitions, peak velocity (PV), mean velocity (MV), peak power (PP), and mean power (MP) were greater in CS2 and CS4 than in TS (P < .01), with CS2 also resulting in greater values than CS4 (P < .02). When examining individual sets within each set structure, PV, MV, PP, and MP decreased during the course of TS (effect sizes 0.28–0.99), whereas no decreases were noted during CS2 (effect sizes 0.00–0.13) or CS4 (effect sizes 0.00–0.29).

Conclusions:

These results demonstrate that CS structures maintain velocity and power, whereas TS structures do not. Furthermore, increasing the frequency of intraset rest intervals in CS structures maximizes this effect and should be used if maximal velocity is to be maintained during training.

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Jeremy M. Sheppard, Sophia Nimphius, Greg G. Haff, Tai T. Tran, Tania Spiteri, Hedda Brooks, Gary Slater, and Robert U. Newton

Purpose:

Appropriate and valid testing protocols for evaluating the physical performances of surfing athletes are not well refined. The purpose of this project was to develop, refine, and evaluate a testing protocol for use with elite surfers, including measures of anthropometry, strength and power, and endurance.

Methods:

After pilot testing and consultation with athletes, coaches, and sport scientists, a specific suite of tests was developed. Forty-four competitive junior surfers (16.2 ± 1.3 y, 166.3 ± 7.3 cm, 57.9 ± 8.5 kg) participated in this study involving a within-day repeated-measures analysis, using an elite junior group of 22 international competitors (EJG), to establish reliability of the measures. To reflect validity of the testing measures, a comparison of performance results was then undertaken between the EJG and an age-matched competitive junior group of 22 nationally competitive surfers (CJG).

Results:

Percent typical error of measurement (%TEM) for primary variables gained from the assessments ranged from 1.1% to 3.0%, with intraclass correlation coefficients ranging from .96 to .99. One-way analysis of variance revealed that the EJG had lower skinfolds (P = .005, d = 0.9) than the CJG, despite no difference in stature (P = .102) or body mass (P = .827). The EJG were faster in 15-m sprint-paddle velocity (P < .001, d = 1.3) and had higher lower-body isometric peak force (P = .04, d = 0.7) and superior endurance-paddling velocity (P = .008, d = 0.9).

Conclusions:

The relatively low %TEM of these tests in this population allows for high sensitivity to detect change. The results of this study suggest that competitively superior junior surfers are leaner and possess superior strength, paddling power, and paddling endurance.