Influence of lower-limb joint kinematics on performance of relay starts in elite swimmers
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of lower-limb joint kinematics and takeoff characteristics on the performance of swimming relay starts. Eight male swimmers, competing at national or international level, performed three trials each of their preferred relay start technique. Video analysis of the sagittal plane was conducted to measure hip, knee and ankle angles and angular velocities, along with takeoff angle, to compare these with dive distance and horizontal takeoff velocity, which were used as performance indicators. The study found that the two athletes that achieved the highest takeoff velocities (10.19 and 9.53 m.s-1) displayed the greatest hip angular velocities in both flexion (8.8 and 9.4 rad.s-1) and extension (16.8 and 15.8 rad.s-1), with peak hip extension angular velocity displaying a positive linear relationship with takeoff velocity between participants (p < .05). A curvilinear relationship emerged between minimum knee angle and dive distance, with the optimum occurring within the range of 100-105°, whilst the lowest distance was achieved by the athlete who spent the longest duration (0.16 seconds) at the point of maximum ankle dorsiflexion. Takeoff angle was found to influence dive distance as the swimmer attaining the highest angle of 2° displayed the greatest distance of all participants (3.28 metres) despite having the lowest takeoff velocity, whereas the participant with the lowest angle (-17°) reached the shortest distance (2.86 metres). Takeoff velocity was improved by increasing hip extension angular velocity due to potentially increased joint power and ground reaction force, with dive distance found to be enhanced by optimising minimum knee angle and reducing ankle amortisation time to utilise stored elastic energy. The study concluded that coaches should focus on encouraging swimmers’ movement patterns to maximise the effects of the stretchshortening cycle, as evidence suggests that this may play a significant role in relay starts.
DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONOURS) SPORT CONDITIONING, REHABILITATION AND MASSAGE
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