Comparing lower leg kinematics and coordination in sprint acceleration with and without the constraint of holding a field hockey stick
University of Wales
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The importance of rapid sprint acceleration in team based sport performance has been well established. Sports scientists have created a number of training techniques, such as interval sprint training, to improve the acceleration of sports performers over a short distance. Athletes have been hypothesised to adapt their sprinting technique according to the constraints of the task. Several team based sports including rugby, field hockey and lacrosse require the ability to accelerate under constrained conditions. Sprint training regimes traditionally do not facilitate the development of game-specific sprint-based skills. The aim of this study was to investigate the technique of sprint acceleration when performing sprint-based tasks with and without the constraints of carrying a field hockey stick. With institutional ethics approval 18 experienced university male field hockey players (mean ± s), age 20 ± 1 years, body mass 73.3 ± 7.1 kg and stature 1.78 ± 0.05 m completed 3 sprint accelerations holding a field hockey stick and 3 sprint accelerations without a field hockey stick. Technique-based measures were analysed through a kinematic analysis of the lower extremities at touchdown and toe-off during the sprint running stride. Performance measures were analysed and included average velocity and step velocity between 5-10m and 18-22m. The results showed significant differences between sprint acceleration with and without the constraint of holding a field hockey stick (p< 0.05) in the ankle angle and hip angular velocity at touchdown and hip and trunk angle at toe-off. Significant differences (p< 0.05) between the two conditions were also found in the mean sprint velocities between 5-10 m and 18-22 m and the stride length between 5-10 m. The main implication of the studies findings are for coaches to include the addition of the equipment in the sprint training regimes discussed. This may enable the athlete to make the necessary technical adjustments to maximise their sprint acceleration.
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