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Influence of Age, Maturity, and Body Size on the Spatiotemporal Determinants of Maximal Sprint Speed in Boys

Meyers, Robert W.; Oliver, Jon L.; Hughes, Michael G.; Lloyd, Rhodri S.; Cronin, John B.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: April 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - p 1009–1016
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001310
Original Research

Meyers, RW, Oliver, JL, Hughes, MG, Lloyd, RS, and Cronin, JB. Influence of age, maturity, and body size on the spatiotemporal determinants of maximal sprint speed in boys. J Strength Cond Res 31(4): 1009–1016, 2017—The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of age, maturity, and body size on the spatiotemporal determinants of maximal sprint speed in boys. Three-hundred and seventy-five boys (age: 13.0 ± 1.3 years) completed a 30-m sprint test, during which maximal speed, step length, step frequency, contact time, and flight time were recorded using an optical measurement system. Body mass, height, leg length, and a maturity offset represented somatic variables. Step frequency accounted for the highest proportion of variance in speed (∼58%) in the pre–peak height velocity (pre-PHV) group, whereas step length explained the majority of the variance in speed (∼54%) in the post-PHV group. In the pre-PHV group, mass was negatively related to speed, step length, step frequency, and contact time; however, measures of stature had a positive influence on speed and step length yet a negative influence on step frequency. Speed and step length were also negatively influence by mass in the post-PHV group, whereas leg length continued to positively influence step length. The results highlighted that pre-PHV boys may be deemed step frequency reliant, whereas those post-PHV boys may be marginally step length reliant. Furthermore, the negative influence of body mass, both pre-PHV and post-PHV, suggests that training to optimize sprint performance in youth should include methods such as plyometric and strength training, where a high neuromuscular focus and the development force production relative to body weight are key foci.

1Youth Physical Development Unit, Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, United Kingdom;

2Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand; and

3School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

Address correspondence to Robert W. Meyers, rwmeyers@cardiffmet.ac.uk.

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.