Sprinting kinematics of elite rugby players
Australian Strength and Conditioning Association
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
The purpose of this study was to characterize the sprinting kinematics of elite rugby players as they transition from a standing start to maximal velocity. A group of players (n=11) underwent an assessment of their sprinting ability by performing four 50 m sprints. All players (height = 1.86 ± 0.08 m, mass = 100 ± 9 kg) had played senior international rugby. Each of the sprints was filmed using Nikon J1 video cameras recording at 400 f/s at the 3 m, 9 m, 15 m, 21 m, 27 m, 33 m, 39 m, and 45 m marks of the 50 m sprints. Stride length, stride rate, ground contact time, flight time and velocity were calculated using a computer program (Kinovea). Velocity peaked at either the 33 m or 39 m mark with significant differences in velocity between the 33 m mark and velocities at 3 m, 9 m and 15 m marks (P<0.05 - P<0.0001). Ground contact time at the 3 m mark was significantly longer than at every other distance measured (P<0.0001). Stride length was significantly shorter at the 3 m (P<0.0001) than every other section. Stride length and ground contact time at 9 m were significantly different from every other distance except for 15 m. No differences were found in stride rate between any of the distances. Elite rugby players achieve their top speed between 30 m and 40 m and do so by decreasing ground contact time and increasing stride length as they accelerate.