Effects of a 10-month neuromuscular training program on strength, power, speed, and vault performance in young female gymnasts
Medicine and science in sports and exercise
School of Medical and Health Sciences
PURPOSE: This study aimed to evaluate a 10-month neuromuscular training (NMT) intervention on isometric and dynamic kinetics, standing long jump (SLJ) distance, speed, and sport-specific performance. METHODS: Forty-three prepubertal female gymnasts were allocated into either a gymnastics + NMT (gNMT; n = 16), gymnastics only (GYM, n = 15), or maturity-matched control (CON; n = 12) group. The gNMT followed a 10-month, twice-weekly NMT program that targeted movement competency, strength, power, and speed. Vaulting vertical take-off velocity, speed, SLJ distance, and kinetics during an isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP), countermovement jump (CMJ), and drop jump (DJ) were measured at baseline and thereafter at 4, 7, and 10 months. Within-group differences were calculated using 3 × 4 repeated-measures ANCOVA. RESULTS: Interaction effects were observed for SLJ distance and various IMTP, DJ, and vaulting variables. The gNMT showed significant improvements in IMTP absolute force and SLJ distance after 4 months and each subsequent testing session. IMTP relative force and various CMJ and DJ kinetics significantly improved in the gNMT from 7 months. Significant gains in speed and vaulting take-off velocity occurred after 10 months. The GYM group achieved some significant improvements in CMJ impulse, absolute isometric strength, and DJ spring-like behavior, whereas the CON group did not experience any changes. CONCLUSIONS: The addition of NMT to gymnastics training improved various isometric and dynamic kinetics, SLJ distance, speed, and vaulting take-off velocity in the gNMT, changes that were not equally evidenced for GYM or CON. The threshold for most of the training-induced adaptations observed in IMTP relative force, CMJ and DJ kinetics, sprint speed, and vaulting were achieved after 7 months, emphasizing the efficacy of long-term NMT programs for young gymnasts.