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Sprint ability develops non-linearly across childhood and adolescence. However, the underpinning ground-reaction-force (GRF) production is not fully understood. This study aimed to uncover the kinetic factors that explain these maturation-related sprint performance differences in Japanese boys and girls. A total of 153 untrained schoolchildren (80 boys, 73 girls) performed two 50-m maximal-effort sprints over a 52-force-platform system embedded in an indoor track. Maturity offset (years from peak height velocity; PHV) was estimated using anthropometric data and used to categorise the children into six year-long maturation groups (from group 1 [5.5-4.5 years before PHV] to group 6 [0.5 years before to 0.5 years after PHV). Maximum and mean step-averaged velocities across 26 steps were compared across consecutive maturation groups, with further GRF analysis (means and waveforms [statistical parametric mapping]) performed when velocity differences were observed. For boys, higher maximum velocities (effect size±90% CI = 1.63±0.69) were observed in maturation group 2 (4.5-3.5 years before PHV) compared to group 1 (5.5-4.5 years before PHV), primarily attributable to higher anteroposterior GRFs across shorter ground contacts. Maximum velocities increased from maturation group 4 (2.5-1.5 years before PHV) to 5 (1.5-0.5 years before PHV) in the girls (effect size±90% CI = 1.00±0.78), due to longer ground contacts rather than higher GRFs per se. Waveform analyses revealed more effective reversal of braking forces and higher propulsive forces (e.g. 14-77% of stance 4), particularly for comparisons involving boys, which suggested potentially enhanced stretch-shortening ability. Youth-sport practitioners should consider these maturation-specific alterations when evaluating young athletes’ sprint abilities.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Scandanavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports|
|Early online date||14 Apr 2020|
|Publication status||Published - 27 Aug 2020|
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