Alterations to the orientation of the ground reaction force vector affect sprint acceleration performance in team sports athletes

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Bezodis, Neil E. ; North, Jamie S. ; Razavet, Jane L. (2016)

A more horizontally oriented ground reaction force vector is related to higher levels of sprint acceleration performance across a range of athletes. However, the effects of acute experimental alterations to the force vector orientation within athletes is unknown. Fifteen male team sports athletes completed maximal effort 10 m accelerations in three conditions following different verbal instructions intended to manipulate the force vector orientation. Ground reaction forces were collected from the step nearest 5 m and stance leg kinematics at touchdown were also analysed to understand specific kinematic features of touchdown technique which may influence the consequent force vector orientation. Magnitude-based inferences were used to compare findings between conditions. There was a likely more horizontally oriented ground reaction force vector and a likely lower peak vertical force in the control condition compared with the experimental conditions. 10 m sprint time was very likely quickest in the control condition which confirmed the importance of force vector orientation for acceleration performance on a within-athlete basis. The stance leg kinematics revealed that a more horizontally oriented force vector during stance was preceded at touchdown by a likely more dorsiflexed ankle, a likely more flexed knee, and a possibly or likely greater hip extension velocity.
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