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Ralph Mann and John Herman

Selected kinematic variables in the performance of the Gold and Silver medalists and the eighth-place finisher in the men's 200-meter sprint final at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games were investigated. Cinematographic records were obtained for all track running events at the Games, with the 200-meter performers singled out for initial analysis. In this race, sagittal view filming records (100 fps) were collected at the middle (125-meter mark) and end (180-meter mark) of the performance. Computer-generated analysis variables included both direct performance variables (body velocity, stride rate, etc.) and upper and lower body kinematics (upper arm position, lower leg velocity, etc.) that have previously been utilized in the analysis of elite athlete sprinters. The difference in place finish was related to the performance variables body horizontal velocity (direct), stride rate (direct), and support time (indirect). The critical body kinematics variables related to success included upper leg angle at takeoff (indirect), upper leg velocity during support (direct), lower leg velocity at touchdown (direct), foot to body touchdown distance (indirect), and relative foot velocity at touchdown.

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Nicholas P. Linthorne

The effect of wind on the race times of international standard 100-m sprinters was determined using statistical information from official competitions. A time adjustment curve derived from mathematical models was fitted to performances by the finalists at the U.S. Olympic Trials and TAC Championships over the last 10 years, and to multiple performances by individual athletes at recent Olympic Games and World Championships. Consistent results were obtained from the two studies. The rate of improvement in. race time gradually decreased with increasing wind velocity, and so the disadvantage of a head wind was greater than the benefit of a tail wind of the same magnitude. The advantage of a 2-m/s following wind was 0.10 ± 0.01 s for the male sprinters and 0.12 ± 0.02 s for the female sprinters. These results indicated that the altitude of Mexico City (2,250 m) provides an advantage of about 0.07 s. Time adjustment versus wind velocity curves are presented that allow comparison of the merit of 100-m sprint times achieved under diverse wind conditions. The curves supersede those derived by previous investigators.

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Iñigo Mujika

Detailed accounts of the training programs followed by today’s elite triathletes are lacking in the sport-science literature. This study reports on the training program of a world-class female triathlete preparing to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Over 50 wk, she performed 796 sessions (303 swim, 194 bike, 254 run, 45 strength training), ie, 16 ± 4 sessions/wk (mean ± SD). Swim, bike, and run training volumes were, respectively, 1230 km (25 ± 8 km/wk), 427 h (9 ± 3 h/wk), and 250 h (5 ± 2 h/wk). Training tasks were categorized and prescribed based on heart-rate values and/or speeds and power outputs associated with different blood lactate concentrations. Training performed at intensities below her individual lactate threshold (ILT), between the ILT and the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA), and above the OBLA for swim were 74% ± 6%, 16% ± 2%, 10% ± 2%; bike 88% ± 3%, 10% ± 1%, 2.1% ± 0.2%; and run 85% ± 2%, 8.0% ± 0.3%, 6.7% ± 0.3%. Training organization was adapted to the busy competition calendar (18 events, of which 8 were Olympic-distance triathlons) and continuously responded to emerging information. Training volumes were 35–80% higher than those previously reported for elite male and female triathletes, but training intensity and tapering strategies successfully followed recommended best practice for endurance athletes. This triathlete placed 7th in London 2012, and her world ranking improved from 14th to 8th at the end of 2012.

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LeRoy W. Alaways, Sean P. Mish and Mont Hubbard

Pitched-baseball trajectories were measured in three dimensions during competitions at the 1996 Summer Olympic games using two high-speed video cameras and standard DLT techniques. A dynamic model of baseball flight including aerodynamic drag and Magnus lift forces was used to simulate trajectories. This simulation together with the measured trajectory position data constituted the components of an estimation scheme to determine 8 of the 9 release conditions (3 components each of velocity, position, and angular velocity) as well as the mean drag coefficient CD and terminal conditions at home plate. The average pitch loses 5% of its initial velocity during flight. The dependence of estimated drag coefficient on Reynolds number hints at the possibility of the drag crisis occurring in pitched baseballs. Such data may be used to quantify a pitcher’s performance (including fastball speed and amount of curve-ball break) and its improvement or degradation over time. It may also be used to understand the effects of release parameters on baseball trajectories.

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Nancy R. Deuel and Jong-Jin Park

Limb contact variables of the gaits of dressage horses were determined for competitors at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games in the team and individual dressage competitions. Two 16-mm motion picture cameras filming at 100 fps were aimed perpendicular to the plane of equestrian motion along the HXF and MXK diagonals of the standard dressage arena. Eighteen competitors in team dressage were filmed during the Grand Prix test while executing the extended walk, extended trot, and left lead extended canter. Fifteen horses selected as finalists for individual dressage medals were filmed during the Grand Prix Special test executing the extended trot, one-stride canter lead changes, two-stride canter lead changes, and the left lead extended canter. Velocities of the extended walk, extended trot, and extended canter were positively related to stride length. Velocities of the Grand Prix extended walk and Grand Prix Special extended trot were positively related to stride frequency. Limb contact patterns of the extended walk stride appeared to have relatively little importance in scoring. Certain characteristics of the extended trot and extended canter were strongly related to scores attained in Grand Prix Special dressage tests, with highest scores achieved by horses with the longest, fastest strides. For canter strides involving lead changes, no limb contact variables were detected that were significantly related to scores. This study provided the first objective documentation of the limb contact patterns of the walk, trot, and canter of world-class dressage horses.

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David B. Pyne and Rick L. Sharp

The aquatic sports competitions held during the summer Olympic Games include diving, open-water swimming, pool swimming, synchronized swimming, and water polo. Elite-level performance in each of these sports requires rigorous training and practice to develop the appropriate physiological, biomechanical, artistic, and strategic capabilities specific to each sport. Consequently, the daily training plans of these athletes are quite varied both between and within the sports. Common to all aquatic athletes, however, is that daily training and preparation consumes several hours and involves frequent periods of high-intensity exertion. Nutritional support for this high-level training is a critical element of the preparation of these athletes to ensure the energy and nutrient demands of the training and competition are met. In this article, we introduce the fundamental physical requirements of these sports and specifically explore the energetics of human locomotion in water. Subsequent articles in this issue explore the specific nutritional requirements of each aquatic sport. We hope that such exploration will provide a foundation for future investigation of the roles of optimal nutrition in optimizing performance in the aquatic sports.

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Yoshiaki Takei

The purpose of this study was to identify the mechanical factors that are crucial to successful performance of blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout in the handspring and salto forward tucked vault. A 16-mm camera operating at 100 Hz was used to record the performances. The subjects were 51 male gymnasts participating in the 1988 Olympic Games. It was hypothesized that some mechanical factors identified in the model were significantly correlated with successful performance of blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout as rated by the judges. Significant correlations indicated that a large horizontal velocity at touchdown on horse is an important prerequisite for effective blocking and subsequent performance of postflight. The results also indicated that the body’s moment of inertia should be minimized by assuming the full tuck position just before or near the peak of flight, which maximizes the time and height available for executing the kickout in midair. The small angular speed of body rotation due to early kickout and the long-held extended body position as it travels a large horizontal distance are not only effective in the expression of artistic amplitude for virtuosity points but are also crucial for control in landing.

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Miguel-Ángel Gómez, Enrique Ortega Toro and Philip Furley

The aim of the current study was to analyze the temporal effects that unsportsmanlike fouls may have on basketball teams’ scoring performance under consideration of context-related variables. The authors analyzed 130 unsportsmanlike fouls from 362 elite basketball games (men’s and women’s Olympic Games, European and World Championships). The context-related variables studied were score-line, quality of opposition, timeout situation, minutes remaining, and player status. The data were analyzed with linear-regression models. The results showed that both teams (the team that made the foul and the opponent) had similar positive scoring performances during 1 and 3 ball possessions after the unsportsmanlike foul (short-term effect). However, 5 ball possessions after the foul (midterm effect), the team that made the foul had a scoring disadvantage (−0.96) and the opponent team an advantage (0.78). The context-related variable quality of opposition was significant only during 1 ball possession, with negative effects for the team that made the foul and positive effects for the opponent. The final outcome showed a positive effect for score-line when the unsportsmanlike foul was made (0.96) and for quality of opposition (0.64).

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Sabrina Skorski, Naroa Etxebarria and Kevin G. Thompson

Purpose:

To investigate if swimming performance is better in a relay race than in the corresponding individual race.

Methods:

The authors analyzed 166 elite male swimmers from 15 nations in the same competition (downloaded from www.swimrankings.net). Of 778 observed races, 144 were Olympic Games performances (2000, 2004, 2012), with the remaining 634 performed in national or international competitions. The races were 100-m (n = 436) and 200-m (n = 342) freestyle events. Relay performance times for the 2nd–4th swimmers were adjusted (+ 0.73 s) to allow for the “flying start.”

Results:

Without any adjustment, mean individual relay performances were significantly faster for the first 50 m and overall time in the 100-m events. Furthermore, the first 100 m of the 200-m relay was significantly faster (P > .001). During relays, swimmers competing in 1st position did not show any difference compared with their corresponding individual performance (P > .16). However, swimmers competing in 2nd–4th relay-team positions demonstrated significantly faster times in the 100-m (P < .001) and first half of the 200-m relays than in their individual events (P < .001, ES: 0.28–1.77). However, when finishing times for 2nd–4th relay team positions were adjusted for the flying start no differences were detected between relay and individual race performance for any event or split time (P > .17).

Conclusion:

Highly trained swimmers do not swim (or turn) faster in relay events than in their individual races. Relay exchange times account for the difference observed in individual vs relay performance.

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Laura Capranica and Mindy L. Millard-Stafford

A prevailing theory (and practical application) is that elite performance requires early childhood skill development and training across various domains, including sport. Debate continues whether children specializing early (ie, training/competition in a single sport) have true advantage compared with those who sample various sports early and specialize in a single sport later (adolescence). Retrospective data and case studies suggest either model yields elite status depending upon the sport category (ie, situational: ball games, martial arts, fencing; quantitative: track and feld, swimming, skiing; or qualitative: gymnastics, diving, figure skating). However, potential risks of early specialization include greater attrition and adverse physical/emotional health outcomes. With the advent of the IOC Youth Olympic Games, increased emphasis on global youth competition has unknown implications but also represents a potential platform for investigation. Modification of youth competition formats should be based upon multidisciplinary research on psycho-physiological responses, and technical-tactical behaviors during competition. The assumption that a simple scaled-down approach of adult competitions facilitates the development of technical/tactical skills of youth athletes is not necessarily substantiated with field-based research. Relatively little evidence exists regarding the long-term effects of rigorous training and competitive schedules on children in specific sports. It is clear that more prospective studies are needed to understand the training dose that optimally develops adaptations in youth without inducing dropout, overtraining syndrome, and/or injury. Such an approach should be sport specific as well as gender based. Until such evidence exists, coaches and sport administrators will continue to rely upon their sport-specific dogma to influence programmatic development of our most vulnerable population.