Can coordination variability identify performance factors and skill level in competitive sport? The case of race walking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (SciVal)
187 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Marginal changes in the execution of competitive sports movements can represent a significant change for performance success. However, such differences may emerge only at certain execution intensities and are not easily detectable through conventional biomechanical techniques. This study aimed to investigate if and how competition standard and progression speed affect race walking kinematics from both a conventional and a coordination variability perspective.

Methods: Fifteen experienced athletes divided into three groups (Elite, International, and National) were studied while race walking on a treadmill at two different speeds (12.0 and 15.5 km/h). Basic gait parameters, the angular displacement of the pelvis and lower limbs, and the variability in continuous relative phase between six different joint couplings were analyzed.

Results: Most of the spatio-temporal, kinematic, and coordination variability measures proved sensitive to the change in speed. Conversely, non-linear dynamics measures highlighted differences between athletes of different competition standard when conventional analytical tools were not able to discriminate between different skill levels. Continuous relative phase variability was higher for National level athletes than International and Elite in two couplings (pelvis obliquity – hip flex/extension and pelvis rotation – ankle dorsi/plantarflexion) and gait phases (early stance for the first coupling, propulsive phase for the second) that are deemed fundamental for correct technique and performance.

Conclusion: Measures of coordination variability showed to be a more sensitive tool for the fine detection of skill-dependent factors in competitive race walking, and showed good potential for being integrated in the assessment and monitoring of sports motor abilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-43
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number1
Early online date13 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Motor Control
  • Biomechanics
  • Gait
  • Sport Technique
  • Training
  • Joint Coupling


Dive into the research topics of 'Can coordination variability identify performance factors and skill level in competitive sport? The case of race walking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this