GAINcast Episode 194: The trailblazer (with Betty Atwater)

Sports biomechanics came to age in the 1960s and 1970s with scientists like Betty Atwater at the forefront of this new field. A lot has changed in sports science over the last 50 years, but many of the foundational findings still hold and there is a lot we can learn from the analytical and technical processes used by the trailblazers of biomechanics. On this week’s GAINcast Atwater joins to discussion some of her landmark research on pitching and sprinting, as well as the work that led to it.

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Notes and quotes

Betty Atwater is a Professor Emerita, retired from the Department of Physiology at the University of Arizona. Anne’s research has been in the areas of Biomechanics and Kinesiology. She received her PhD and MS degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her undergraduate degree from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey).

  • 4:30 – Development of the field of biomechanics
  • 9:30 – How Atwater got started in throwing and sprinting biomechanics: “It is far better to look at the product of the performance rather than the process. In projectile skills you look at speed and vertical angle of projection rather than the form.”
  • 12:15 – Filming techniques and processes: “It’s not about practice makes perfect, but practice the results of which are known makes perfect.”
  • 19:00 – Research on pitching and correcting common misconceptions paper in throwing: “Illustrations can be more productive than data when talking with coaches and athletes.”
  • 25:30 – Research on sprinting and running.
  • 30:15 – Current state of biomechanics: “Nothing has changed in movement. It is just how you record it. I worry that when you don’t look at the images all you see is a table of numbers and not where it came from.”
  • 34:00 – Creating a partnership: “The approach is to go to the coach and ask what they want to know. Ask how you can help them rather than telling them how to coach their athletes.”
  • 36:45 – Tissue biomechanics
  • 38:30 – Injuries in baseball.
  • 41:30 – Research on synchronized swimming
  • 48:15 – Developing dialogue with the coach and analyzing sports science research.

To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: