Characterising initial sprint acceleration strategies using a whole-body kinematics approach
Journal of Sports Sciences
Sprint acceleration is an important motor skill in team sports, thus consideration of techniques adopted during the initial steps of acceleration is of interest. Different technique strategies can be adopted due to multiple interacting components, but the reasons for, and performance implications of, these differences are unclear. 29 professional rugby union backs completed three maximal 30 m sprints, from which spatiotemporal variables and linear and angular kinematics during the first four
... ps were obtained. Leg strength qualities were also obtained from a series of strength tests for 25 participants, and 13 participants completed the sprint protocol on four separate occasions to assess the reliability of the observed technique strategies. Using hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis, four clear participant groups were identified according to their normalised spatiotemporal variables. Whilst significant differences in several lower limb sprint kinematic and strength qualities existed between groups, there were no significant between-group differences in acceleration performance, suggesting inter-athlete technique degeneracy in the context of performance. As the intra-individual whole-body kinematic strategies were stable (mean CV = 1.9% to 6.7%), the novel approach developed and applied in this study provides an effective solution for monitoring changes in acceleration technique strategies in response to technical or physical interventions.