A COMPARISON OF THE MORPHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MALE SPRINTERS AND MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNERS
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Morphology plays an important role in determining the potential for success in sport. The purpose of this study was to investigate the morphological differences between male sprinters and middle distance runners. The aim was to attempt to identify characteristics key to improving performance, thus influencing coaches’ decisions by providing reasoning for the physique of an individual, depending on their discipline, and the need to achieve this through adapting training and diet, as well as providing an aid for talent identification of potential young athletes. Twenty-one athletes ranging from club to international level participated in the study. They were divided into sprinters (n=13, 60m-400m) with mean age 20.3 ± 1.6 years, stature 182.2cm ± 3.7cm and body mass 77.8kg ± 7.3kg respectively, and middle distance runners (n=8, 800m-5000m) with mean age 21.4 ± 4.4 years, stature 178.7cm ± 3.9cm and body mass 67.3kg ± 4.3kg respectively. Morphological characteristics were assessed from 11 anthropometric measurements collected from the athletes. Descriptive statistics were generated for all variables of interest and mean differences analysed using an independent t-test. Statistically significant differences (p<0.05) were found in body mass, percentage body fat, fat mass, fat free mass and sum of four skinfolds. There was also a statistically significant difference (p<0.05) between mean somatotype for sprinters, which was calculated as ectomorphic mesomorph (2.3-4.3-2.7), and middle distance runners mesomorphic-ectomorph (2.0-3.6-4.0); with only ectomorphy individually presenting a statistically significant difference (p<0.01). There were no statistically significant differences found in stature. It can be concluded that most morphological characteristics impact potential for performance. The identification of significant differences suggests that variances exist between sprinters and middle distance runners due to the different physiological demands of the track events.
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