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

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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.

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