Climbing Skill and Complexity of Climbing Wall Design: Assessment of Jerk as a Novel Indicator of Performance Fluency

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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This study investigated a new performance indicator to assess climbing fluency (smoothness of the hip trajectory and orientation of a climber using normalized jerk coefficients) to explore effects of practice and hold design on performance. Eight experienced climbers completed four repetitions of two, 10-m high routes with similar difficulty levels, but varying in hold graspability (holds with one edge vs holds with two edges). An inertial measurement unit was attached to the hips of each climber to collect 3D acceleration and 3D orientation data to compute jerk coefficients. Results showed high correlations (r = .99, P < .05) between the normalized jerk coefficient of hip trajectory and orientation. Results showed higher normalized jerk coefficients for the route with two graspable edges, perhaps due to more complex route finding and action regulation behaviors. This effect decreased with practice. Jerk coefficient of hip trajectory and orientation could be a useful indicator of climbing fluency for coaches as its computation takes into account both spatial and temporal parameters (ie, changes in both climbing trajectory and time to travel this trajectory).

Ludovic Seifert, Dominic Orth, Jérémie Boulanger, and Vladislavs Dovgalecs are with CETAPS—EA 3832, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Rouen, France. Dominic Orth is also with the School of Exercise & Nutrition Science, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Romain Hérault is with LITIS—EA 4108, National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA), Rouen, France. Keith Davids is with the Centre for Sports Engineering Research, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom and FiDiPro Programme, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Address author correspondence to Ludovic Seifert at