Athletics fans love statistics, and I’m no different, which is why it was so exciting to hear that the IAAF and Leeds Becket University were to collaborate on a biomechanics project at the recent World Championships, giving us some insight into what makes up a world class performance in athletics. As the Championships finished last weekend, the first initial reports were released for the men’s 100m and 10,000m, men’s discus final, and women’s pole vault final, which you can find here. The extended analysis will come in time, but the initial analysis does contain plenty of interesting bits of information. As my athletics knowledge is primarily limited to the sprints, that is where I’ll focus. The initial report itself does a great job of presenting the pertinent points, but I hope to add a little extra context where possible. Read more
Speed is key in every sport, but not all speed is created equal. In many sports, maximum speed is not the game changer. Instead, it is how fast you can respond to the opponent, change direction, and get moving again. In other words, multi-directional speed is often more important than linear speed. On this episode of the podcast professor Ken Clark explains the three elements of multi-directional speed, how it differs from other types of speed, and strategies to improve it. Read more
Technical models are often what we turn to when we develop an athlete’s technique. How do we develop models? And how do we adapt them to the athlete? On this week’s episode Vern looks at how technical models fit into training and what steps coaches need to take to get the most out of them. Read more
I am not talking about the UConn women’s basketball that just won their 100th straight game or the New England Patriots. I am talking about two of the greatest athletes ever! Who are they? You know them because you compete with them all day everyday. One is invisible but beats you every time. The other is always underfoot, but because it is so familiar we fail to recognize it. I am talking about gravity and the ground. Read more
This month, we look at a wide range of disciplines, with studies coming from sports psychology, sports nutrition, strength and conditioning, and biomechanics – and, as always, we finish off with a quick fire round up. The first overview will be free for everyone, but to read the complete September edition you must be a HMMR Plus Member. HMMR Plus is a new offering we have that gives users access to exclusive content like our article archive, webinars, online meet ups, and of course Sports Science Monthly. Therefore sign up now to gain access to Sports Science Monthly and more. To see what Sports Science Monthly is about, our April and May editions are available for free. With that said, let’s dive in! Read more
Each year I reread the following books to keep in touch with the basics. My roots are deep in Athletics (Track & Field) so you can see that reflected in these reading. I find that every time I go through these books that I find something new or at least different perspective. This is just one way that I work at getting better at getting better. In my opinion if you want to be a coach you need to have a “go to” list like this that will keep in touch with the foundations of coaching. Read more
Gary Winckler is one of the top sprint and hurdle coaches in the world and also one of the most thoughtful and intelligent coaches out there. In 2008 Winckler retired after 23 years as a coach at the University of Illinois. During that time he coached over 300 All-Americans and more than a dozen Olympians. On this episode of the GAINcast Winckler explains the performance influences that led to his success as a coach. Read more
I thought my series on the future of hammer throw research was done after Part 1 and Part 2. But that was until thrower Kevin Becker passed along the link below. Becker is currently finishing up his Ph.D. in Kinesiology at the University of Tennessee focusing on motor learning and the hammer throw. We will have more on his work in the coming months, but for now Becker sent me a CNN special from last month that focused on figure skating.
The special looked at the work of Professor Jim Richards at the University of Delaware. As a biomechanist, Richards recognized the value his field could offer figure skating, but also was well aware of its limitations.
Last week I started to look at ways science could continue to help improve performances in the hammer throw. To start with, I ask renowned biomechanist Dr. Jesus Dapena what direction he thought hammer throw research should move. Dapena, who is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University wrote seven influential biomechanics papers on the hammer throw in the 1980s. His idea was also simple: we need to look closer at the role of balance in the throw.
To continue the discussion, I posed the same question to Dr. Klaus Bartonietz, a biomechanist who worked for more than 15 years at the German Olympic Training Center in Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland. In addition to being a scientist, he was also a successful throwing coach who guided Boris Henry to over 90 meters in the javelin. His 2000 work “Hammer Throw: Problems and Prospects” for the International Olympic Committee is the best summary available of the current findings in research on hammer throw technique. Currently he is editor of the leading German track and field technical journal and works as a speaker and consultant on a variety of training topics. His comments are below and cover four areas of research. As I mentioned in the past post, if you are a student or scientist who would like to do research in this area, or are already doing research on another topic, please get in touch with me since I would love to follow your progress.
Simultaneous with the growth in results, the 1980s produced a plethora of scientific research into the hammer throw. The Soviets had their teams of scientists, and, sports being central to the cold war, the Americans worked hard to decipher what the Soviets had discovered. East and West Germany were equally well invested in pushing the event forward. But since then new research has slowed. The best work in the past two decades has come from Marwa Sakr and Koji Murofushi, who have both used new technologies to measure many of the forces taking place in the throw, rather than simply looking at body positions. But most other papers seem to simply reanalyze old work or look at topics like effect of wind on a throw that are very interesting but offer few practical applications for athletes.
Research into training methods has been ever more sparse lately. While new translations of Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s work on the transfer of training and periodization have helped individuals like myself learn more about these topics, no one is continuing his research into event-specific training methods.
We obviously still have a lot that science can teach us about the event, but it is hard to determine what direction future research should head in. Recently I posed this question to some sports scientists. First up is Dr. Jesus Dapena. Dapena recently retired from Indiana University where he was a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and ran their Biomechanics Laboratory. While he has not published any recent work on the hammer throw, he produced seven influential biomechanics papers in the 1980s that were essential in helping the English-speaking world start to understand the Soviet advances in hammer technique. His comments are below. In Part 2 I chat with Dr. Klaus Bartonietz, a biomechanist who worked for more than 15 years at the German Olympic Training Center in Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland and was the personal coach for 90-meter javelin thrower Boris Henry.
If you are a student or scientist that would like to do research in this area, or are already doing research on another topic, please get in touch with me since I would love to follow your progress.