How sprinters accelerate beyond the velocity plateau of soccer players: waveform analysis of ground reaction forces

Steffi Colyer, Ryu Nagahara, Yohei Takai, Aki Salo

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Forces applied to the ground during sprinting are vital to performance. This study aimed to understand how specific aspects of ground reaction force waveforms allow some individuals to continue to accelerate beyond the velocity plateau of others. Twenty-eight male sprint specialists and 24 male soccer players performed maximal-effort 60-m sprints. A 54-force-plate system captured ground reaction forces, which were used to calculate horizontal velocity profiles. Touchdown velocities of steps were matched (8.00, 8.25, and 8.50 m/s), and the subsequent ground contact forces were analyzed. Mean forces were compared across groups and statistical parametric mapping (t tests) assessed for differences between entire force waveforms. When individuals contacted the ground with matched horizontal velocity, ground contact durations were similar. Despite this, sprinters produced higher average horizontal power (15.7-17.9 W/kg) than the soccer players (7.9-11.9 W/kg). Force waveforms did not differ in the initial braking phase (0%-~20% of stance). However, sprinters attenuated eccentric force more in the late braking phase and produced a higher antero-posterior component of force across the majority of the propulsive phase, for example, from 31%-82% and 92%-100% of stance at 8.5 m/s. At this velocity, resultant forces were also higher (33%-83% and 86%-100% of stance) and the force vector was more horizontally orientated (30%-60% and 95%-98% of stance) in the sprinters. These findings illustrate the mechanisms which allowed the sprinters to continue accelerating beyond the soccer players’ velocity plateau. Moreover, these force production demands provide new insight regarding athletes’ strength and technique training requirements to improve acceleration at high velocity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2527-2535
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number12
Early online date19 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • 1D analysis
  • running velocity
  • soccer
  • statistical parametric mapping
  • t test
  • track and field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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