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Chris Englert and Alex Bertrams

In the current study, we consider that optimal sprint start performance requires the self-control of responses. Therefore, start performance should depend on athletes’ self-control strength. We assumed that momentary depletion of self-control strength (ego depletion) would either speed up or slow down the initiation of a sprint start, where an initiation that was sped up would carry the increased risk of a false start. Applying a mixed between- (depletion vs. nondepletion) and within- (before vs. after manipulation of depletion) subjects design, we tested the start reaction times of 37 sport students. We found that participants’ start reaction times decelerated after finishing a depleting task, whereas it remained constant in the nondepletion condition. These results indicate that sprint start performance can be impaired by unrelated preceding actions that lower momentary self-control strength. We discuss practical implications in terms of optimizing sprint starts and related overall sprint performance.

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George Vagenas and T. Blaine Hoshizaki

The sprint starts of 15 skilled sprinters were filmed and their sprinting times recorded while they were performing four 20-meter sprinting trials. They employed their natural hand-block spacings with alternative leg placements in the front starting block. The subjects were tested for dynamic strength on a force platform and their stronger leg was determined. Selected qualitative variables concerning certain perceived characteristics of lateral dominance and preferred leg for some basic motor skills were identified using a questionnaire. Significantly greater takeoff velocities and faster sprinting times were found when the stronger leg was placed in the front block. Previous empirical methods used in determining the best front leg in the start were found unreliable. Even some experienced sprinters fail to use their optimal leg in the forward position. Dynamic lower limb strength asymmetry was established as the key determinant in optimizing leg placement in the sprint start.

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Jos J. de Koning, Gert de Groot and Gerrit Jan van Ingen Schenau

Mechanical characteristics of the sprint start in speed skating were measured during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. From three-dimensional film analysis of the first 4 seconds of the male and female 500-m races, biomechanical variables were determined. The first strokes during the start appeared to be performed by a running-like technique. At a forward velocity of approximately 4 m/sec, the skaters are forced to change this technique to the typical gliding technique as used during speed skating at steady speed. In explaining the time differences on the first 100 meters of the 500-m speed skating race, the effectiveness of the push-off appears to be more important than the observed high power output levels.

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Elena Bergamini, Pélagie Guillon, Valentina Camomilla, Hélène Pillet, Wafa Skalli and Aurelio Cappozzo

The proper execution of the sprint start is crucial in determining the performance during a sprint race. In this respect, when moving from the crouch to the upright position, trunk kinematics is a key element. The purpose of this study was to validate the use of a trunk-mounted inertial measurement unit (IMU) in estimating the trunk inclination and angular velocity in the sagittal plane during the sprint start. In-laboratory sprint starts were performed by five sprinters. The local acceleration and angular velocity components provided by the IMU were processed using an adaptive Kalman filter. The accuracy of the IMU inclination estimate and its consistency with trunk inclination were assessed using reference stereophotogrammetric measurements. A Bland-Altman analysis, carried out using parameters (minimum, maximum, and mean values) extracted from the time histories of the estimated variables, and curve similarity analysis (correlation coefficient > 0.99, root mean square difference < 7 deg) indicated the agreement between reference and IMU estimates, opening a promising scenario for an accurate in-field use of IMUs for sprint start performance assessment.

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Erik Schrödter, Gert-Peter Brüggemann and Steffen Willwacher

Purpose:

To describe the stretch-shortening behavior of ankle plantar-flexing muscle–tendon units (MTUs) during the push-off in a sprint start.

Methods:

Fifty-four male (100-m personal best: 9.58–12.07 s) and 34 female (100-m personal best: 11.05–14.00 s) sprinters were analyzed using an instrumented starting block and 2-dimensional high-speed video imaging. Analysis was performed separately for front and rear legs, while accounting for block obliquities and performance levels.

Results:

The results showed clear signs of a dorsiflexion in the upper ankle joint (front block 15.8° ± 7.4°, 95% CI 13.2–18.2°; rear block 8.0° ± 5.7°, 95% CI 6.4–9.7°) preceding plantar flexion. When observed in their natural block settings, the athletes’ block obliquity did not significantly affect push-off characteristics. It seems that the stretch-shortening-cycle-like motion of the soleus MTU has an enhancing influence on push-off force generation.

Conclusion:

This study provides the first systematic observation of ankle-joint stretch-shortening behavior for sprinters of a wide range of performance levels. The findings highlight the importance of reactive-type training for the improvement of starting performance. Nonetheless, future studies need to resolve the independent contributions of tendinous and muscle-fascicle structures to overall MTU performance.

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Marcos Gutiérrez-Dávila, Jesús Dapena and José Campos

Pre-tensed and conventional starts that exert, respectively, large and small forces against the starting blocks in the “set” position (0.186 vs. 0.113 N per newton of body weight) were analyzed. The starts were videotaped, and the horizontal forces exerted on feet and hands were obtained from separate force plates. In the pre-tensed start, the legs received larger forward impulses early in the acceleration (0.18 vs. 0.15 N·s per kilogram of mass in the first 0.05 s), but the hands received larger backward impulses (–0.08 vs. –0.04 N·s·kg–1). At the end of the acceleration phase, there was no significant difference in horizontal velocity between the two types of start and only trivial differences in the center of mass positions. The results did not show a clear performance change when the feet were pressed hard against the blocks while waiting for the gun.

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Neil E. Bezodis, Aki I.T. Salo and Grant Trewartha

Two-dimensional analyses of sprint kinetics are commonly undertaken but often ignore the metatarsal-phalangeal (MTP) joint and model the foot as a single segment. The aim of this study was to quantify the role of the MTP joint in the early acceleration phase of a sprint and to investigate the effect of ignoring the MTP joint on the calculated joint kinetics at the other stance leg joints. High-speed video and force platform data were collected from four to five trials for each of three international athletes. Resultant joint moments, powers, and net work at the stance leg joints during the first stance phase after block clearance were calculated using three different foot models. Considerable MTP joint range of motion (>30°) and a peak net MTP plantar flexor moment of magnitude similar to the knee joint were observed, thus highlighting the need to include this joint for a more complete picture of the lower limb energetics during early acceleration. Inclusion of the MTP joint had minimal effect on the calculated joint moments, but some of the calculated joint power and work values were significantly (P < .05) and meaningfully affected, particularly at the ankle. The choice of foot model is therefore an important consideration when investigating specific aspects of sprinting technique.

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Reed D. Gurchiek, Hasthika S. Rupasinghe Arachchige Don, Lasanthi C. R. Pelawa Watagoda, Ryan S. McGinnis, Herman van Werkhoven, Alan R. Needle, Jeffrey M. McBride and Alan T. Arnholt

Subjects performed a general and sprint-specific warm-up concluding with sprint starts from a 4-point stance to familiarize themselves with the sprint test protocol. Each subject performed 3 maximal-effort 40-m sprints with a MIMU (450 Hz, 28 g, accelerometer range: ±24 g, and gyroscope range: ±2000°/s

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Jorge Carlos-Vivas, Elena Marín-Cascales, Tomás T. Freitas, Jorge Perez-Gomez and Pedro E. Alcaraz

measurement of the proportion of the total force produced that is oriented in the horizontal direction of motion at sprint start and (2) the rate of decrease in ratio of force ( D RF ), which describes the athlete’s capability to limit the inevitable decrease in mechanical effectiveness as the running

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Abdou Temfemo, Thierry Lelard, Christopher Carling, Samuel Honoré Mandengue, Mehdi Chlif and Said Ahmaidi

This study investigated the feasibility and reliability of a 12 × 25-m repeated sprint test with sprints starting every 25-s in children aged 6–8 years (36 boys, 41 girls). In all subjects, total sprint time (TST) demonstrated high test-retest reliability (ICC: r = .98; CV: 0.7% (95% CI: 0.6–0.9)). While sprint time varied over the 12 sprints in all subjects (p < .001) with a significant increase in time for the third effort onwards compared with the first sprint (p < .001), there was no difference in performance between genders. In all subjects, TST decreased with age (p < .001) and was accompanied by an increase in estimated anaerobic power (p < .001) but also in sprint time decrement percentage (p < .001). Gender did not effect these changes. The present study demonstrates the practicability and reliability of a repeated sprint test with respect to age and gender in young children.