Standing Start & Initial Acceleration Can Determine Sprint Speed

Female athlete sprint start

A Review by Alyssa Bialowas

The ability to accelerate in short sprint distances benefits the performance of athletes in team sports such as hockey, football, rugby, soccer, and in all athletics and sprint distance running. Sprinting requires an individual to cover a set distance at maximum peak strength and cardiovascular output. The ability to accelerate and transition to maximum velocity phases of the sprint provides an opportunity for successful performance in respective team sports.

Literature surrounding key kinematic variables associated with short sprint performance is limited when looking at the first three strides of a sprint. This study set out to investigate the determinants of sprint performance and develop reliable testing techniques for athletes that participate in team sports.

Related Article: Push or Pull? Sprinting Mechanics and You

The Study

Ten male volunteers from various team sports agreed to participate in the study. The team of researchers used a test-retest design to determine reliability between sessions of short sprint performance and the kinematic variables, where each score was measured in respect to each subject over two sessions. The subjects participated in the two sessions, at a minimum of 48 hours apart. Participants performed three maximal output sprints over a 10m distance from a standing start, where 5m and 10m sprint times were captured with high-speed camera footage. Key kinematic variables were measured in this way.

The Results

Key kinematic variables associated with sprint performance produced reliable results between trials. Sprint performances were identified as unreliable variables of measurement in the study, as performances were too inconsistent between trials. Step frequency and flight time during the third step had the largest correlation with overall sprint performance. Third step length and stance time produced a small correlation as well. However, the majority of associations were insignificant. The results of the study are still valuable in substance as noting inconsistencies in sprint performance can offer various training interventions in team sport athletes. 

Takeaway

Determinants of sprint performance vary between athletes that participate on team sports versus track and sprint distance running. Due to the nature of variable athletes and varying sprint techniques, team sport athletes may be more inconsistent in their running as compared to sprinters. Future research is required to investigate whether additional kinematic variables such as such as step length and frequency, stance time and flight time, influence sprint performance in team sport athletes.

Related Article: So You Want To Be A Sprinter? – Ebook Edition

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References

Maulder, P., & Standing, R. (2017). “The Biomechanics of Standing Start and Initial

Acceleration: Reliability of the Key Determining Kinematics.” Journal of Sports

Science and Medicine, 16, 154-162.

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