Coach, we have a keeper this month.
Very rarely do I get ‘excited’ to reach industry research. In all honesty, it’s boring. The exception? When you find a study that applies directly to your coaching practice.
This review focuses on a study conducted on the relationship between eccentric strength and joint stiffness in maximum velocity sprinting.
Chalk this one up as a win for the nerdy Performance Coaches!
As always, for those new to the show, here’s how these blog posts break down…I am going to test my ability to read and crush the entire article. In this case a ‘brief’ review on maximum strength and change of direction ability. Once done, I am going to write a summary of the article in to these three parts.
Part 1: What we know.
This is going to explain what the research was looking to study, how they studied it, and why you should care.
Part 2: Any comments or concerns about what the study is showing?
Sometimes the best research study looks so good on paper, but then when you dive in you see that it was done on olympic athletes, or was sponsored by a specific company, or something else that can throw a major red flag on its effectiveness in practical use. Alas, that is what we are for here at Parisi HQ
Part 3: How can I use this?
This part is going to explain practical applications of the research. Typically research is lab based and can be hard to replicate when you’re a Performance Coach on a budget. I’m going to do my best to break down how you can actually apply this research to you coaching
For the grammar nerds, here is the article in a pretty clean MLA format…iif you click on the citation it will take you to the full article.
Jamie Douglas, Simon Pearson, Angus Ross & Mike McGuigan (2020) Reactive and eccentric strength contribute to stiffness regulation during maximum velocity sprinting in team sport athletes and highly trained sprinters, Journal of Sports Sciences, 38:1, 29-37, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2019.1678363
What we know.
We know this study is awesome. Here’s the details.
This study explored reactive and eccentric strength as they relate to stiffness regulation during maximum velocity sprinting. This study took it one step further and used team sport athletes compared with highly trained sprinters.
More on this in the next section…
Thirteen team sport athletes and eleven highly trained sprinters were recruited for the study. Maximum velocity was measured using radar, and stiffness regulation was calculated from modeled vertical and leg spring stiffness. Reactive strength (RSI) was determined from a 0.50 m drop jump, and an eccentric back squat was used to assess maximum isoinertial (constant load) eccentric force.
The outcomes- you may need to read through this twice…
Trained sprinters attained a higher Vmax than team sport athletes. This was due to a briefer contact time and higher vertical stiffness.
Trained sprinters exhibited a moderately higher RSI through a shorter and more forceful ground contact phase.
Isoinertial eccentric force was largely correlated with Vmax, but only moderately correlated with vertical stiffness. Reactive and eccentric strength contribute to the ability to regulate leg spring stiffness at maximum velocity, and the attainment of faster sprinting speeds in highly trained sprinters versus team sport athletes.
Last point…this study validates that stiffness is a task-specific neuromuscular skill, reinforcing the importance of specificity in the development of sprint performance.
Any comments or concerns about what the study is showing?
Wow, what a study. I actually think this one was conducted very well. I was surprised to read that the researchers compared sprinters to team sport athletes- something that I think is a curiosity of many Performance Coaches, especially since sprinters display the pinnacle of speed.
What I really liked about this study is that they used isoinertial load for the back squat. This might seem like a big word, but isoinertial means the athletes were tested in such a way that a constant load was used. As the athlete dropped in to triple flexion, there were no mechanical advantages playing a role on the load variance. In short, it’s just a nice extra step to maintain testing integrity and accuracy.
How can I use this?
If you want to get fast, you need to sprint. Just like displaying efforts of maximum strength is a skill- i.e. neuro-recruitment- displaying maximum speed is a skill- i.e. it’s still a high neuro-recruitment activity.
What was unexpected, and is something that I will be looking to learn more about, is eccentric strength being correlated with higher maximum velocity. Though that was not the main outcome of this study, because we were able to see a strong correlation, it’s something we as Performance Coaches can implement in to our training sessions. It’s also a training method that is relatively safe to implement with a wide variety of athlete ages and skills.
What a study!