ABSTRACT:Aim: Present study was aimed to quantify selected physical fitness measures in elite sprinters and compare it with age-matched controls. Material methods: Sprinters who had participated in different state and national athletic meets with four years of playing history where selected for this study. Ethical committee clearance was obtained and written consent was taken from subjects involved in the study. Database of 30 male sprinters and age-matched controls for flexibility and agility was compiled. After compilation of this data, it was statistically analyzed by unpaired T test and P value of less than 0.05 was noted. Results: Our study revealed a highly significant (P value < 0.001) relationship in flexibility between sprinters and controls by all three tests used to quantify flexibility. Whereas agility was significant using Burpee’s squat test and highly significant using shuttle run and quadrant jump test in these two groups. Conclusion: To help sprinters perform successfully in their competitions and reach international levels, important factors related to a successful performance should be identified and all such physical fitness measures should be assessed in selection criteria. In addition to this regular preseason training programs with different means to improve these parameters should be inculcated.
KEYWORDS: Sprinters, Flexibility, Agility, Preseason training programs.
Sports are organized at competitive levels since ancient times. Today competition in sports has achieved the highest level. In India the scientific community has recently started contributing towards the development of an athlete. Amongst sports, athletic sprint events are most popular
Sprints include 100m, 200m, and 400m running races (1). Although the running distances vary, upper limit is usually 400m (2). Ward and Watts defined sprinting as “running at or close to maximum speed”.
To our irony, the level of performance of Indian sprint athlete lags far behind the international standards. The poor performance of Indian sprinters at the International competition has been of great concern especially to coaches, physical educationist and sports scientists(3). Efforts have been made to improve the standards of our sprinters since long, however little success has so far been achieved in this respect. To help sprinters perform successfully in their competitions and reach international levels, important factors related to a successful performance should be identified and all such physical fitness measures should be assessed in selection criteria. In addition to this regular preseason training programs with different means to improve these parameters should be inculcated. Mike Agostine says “an erage sprinter can become top class sprinter with right training and competition”.
A number of studies have been made on sprint athletes of different countries to co-relate their performance with various physiological parameters but no studies have been reported on Indian top athletes.
So this study was undertaken in, “Exercise and sports physiology laboratory of Department of Physiology”, Dr. Vaishampayan Memorial Government Medical College, Solapur to explore contribution of selected physical fitness parameters like flexibility and agility in elite Indian sprinters and compare it with age matched controls and international standards.
Aims and Objectives:
The purpose of present study was :
- To describe selected physical fitness measures like flexibility and agility in sprinters
- To determine the contributions of these selected parameters to performance of
- To access, analyze and compare the results with age matched controls and also to compare these results with national and international standards available from the literature.
MATERIAL AND METHODS:
The present study was carried out in thirty male sprinters who had participated in different state and national athletic meets with four years of playing history and sprinting 2-3 hrs, 5days a week. Their age ranged from 16-20 yrs with an average of 17.2yrs. Subjects excluded from the study were those who were not regularly practicing, who had a past history of major respiratory or cardiovascular disease or who were injured. Ethical committee clearance was obtained and written consent was taken from subjects involved in the study.
Thirty (30) age matched subjects served as control group. The selected physical fitness parameters were assessed in Exercise and Sports Physiology Lab in Department of Physiology, Dr.V.M.Govt.Medical College, Solapur. These parameters were assessed by a single person and in similar situations for all subjects. Database of 30 male sprinters and age-matched controls for flexibility and agility was compiled. After compilation of this data, it was statistically analyzed by unpaired T test and P value of less than 0.05 was noted.
a. Trunk (Sit-n-reach) – cms.
b. Shoulder (Goniometry) – degrees.
c. Knee (Goniometry) - degrees.
a. Burpee’s squat thrust – no.
b. Shuttle run – secs.
c. Quadrant jump - no.
Flexibility is the capacity of a joint to move through its full range of motion without undue strain to the articulation and muscle attachments(4). Flexibility provides higher degree of freedom and ease of movement and gives greater safety from injury.
The trunk flexibility was assessed by modified sit and reach test.
Shoulder and knee flexibilities were assessed by goniometry.
- Modified Sit and Reach test:
This test is used to measure the development of hip and back flexion as well as extension of the hamstring muscles of the legs.
A measuring tape was stuck on floor and a line perpendicular to the tape at 15 inches was marked on the floor. After sufficient warm-up, the subject was asked to sit down and line up his heels with the near edge of perpendicular line with the tape in between the two heels and slide his seat back beyond the zero end of the tape. An assistant stood and braced his toes against the subject’s heels as he stretched forward so that his heels should not slip over the perpendicular line. Also, two assistants held subject’s knees in locked position. Then, the subject was asked to stretch forwards slowly and steadily without jerks, keeping his knees locked and heels not more than 5 inches apart and to touch the fingertips of both hands as many inches down the stick as possible.The best of three trials measured to the nearest quarter of an inch was the test score of the subject(4) and player were graded according to raw score norms for modified sit and reach test (Annexure I).
- Shoulder flexibility:
The player was asked to lie supine on the bed with palms facing towards his body. The fulcrum of the goniometer was placed over the acromion process . The stationary arm and the moveable arm of the goniometer were aligned in the midline of the humerus and the lateral epicondyle . After alignment the player was asked to lift the arm up just as if raising hand to ask a question. It was seen that the player kept his hand and the palm facing towards his body. At the end point of this test the stationary arm of the goniometer should be in line with that of the lateral margin of the thorax, while the moving arm remains along with the humerus and the lateral epicondyle. Then the angle made by the moving arm with that of the stationary arm was noted (5).
- Knee Flexibility:
The player was asked to lie prone on the bed with knees fully extended. The fulcrum of the goniometer was kept constant at the lateral epicondyle of the femur . Then the player was asked to flex his knees without moving his thighs . The stationary arm was aligned with the lateral margin of the thigh while the moveable arm with that of the leg . The angle (degree) made between the two arms were noted down (5).
Agility is defined as the ability of an individual to rapidly change the body position and direction in a precise manner. Agility was assessed using burpee’s squat thrust, shuttle run and quadrant jump(2).
- Burpee’s squat thrust:
The objective was to measure the rapidity by which body position can be changed. Equipment needed for this test was stop watch.
From a standing position the player was asked to bend at knees and waist and then place his hands on the floor in front of the feet. Then he was asked to thrust his legs backward to a leaning rest position and then return the squat position and then rise to the standing position. From the signal “go” the player was asked to repeat this movement as rapidly as possible until the command “stop” was given.
Scoring- Scores taken were in number of parts executed in 10 sec. As for example, squatting and placing the hands on floor is one part, thrusting the legs to the rear is two, returning to the squat-rest position is three and returning to the standing position is four (4). Each step was given 1 point and the total points were graded according to the raw score norms for burpee’s squat thrust (Annexure II).
- Shuttle run:
This test was measured to measure the agility in running and changing direction. The equipment required for this test was a measuring tape and a stop watch.
Two lines were marked as starting line and finishing line with a distance of 30 ft in between the lines. The player was asked to stand behind the starting line and at the signal of “go” he was asked to run as hard as possible to touch the finishing line and return to the starting line and again do the same for the second time. The time required to do this test was noted down in seconds. The best of three trials was noted down (4). The scoring was given according to percentile chart for shuttle run (Annexure III).
- Quadrant jump:
This test was performed to measure the agility of the subject in changing body position rapidly by jumping. Measuring tape and a stopwatch was needed for this test.
The player was asked to stand behind the small start mark and jump on both the feet into 1, then into 2, 3, 4 and back to 1 again. This pattern of jump was continued till the signal “stop” was given. The score was taken as the number of times the feet landed in a correct zone in 10 seconds. The best of three trials were noted (4). The score so obtained was analyzed according to raw score norms of quadrant jump test (Annexure IV).
Table no. I
Mean ± SD
Mean ± SD
Sit n reach(cms)
|19.5 ± 2.6||16.6 ± 2.3||< 0.001||***HS|
|179.3 ± 2.5||174.6 ± 2.1||< 0.001||***HS|
|133.3 ± 4.4||126.2 ±10.0||< 0.001||***HS|
*NS-Not Significant; **-Significant; ***HS-Highly Significant
Table no. II
|Mean ± SD||Mean ± SD|
|19.4 ± 2.1||17.8 ± 3.0||< 0.01||**S|
|10.7 ± 0.7||11.4 ± 0.8||< 0.001||***HS|
|19.8 ± 2.2||17.7 ± 2.8||< 0.001||***HS|
*NS-Not Significant; **-Significant; ***HS-Highly Significant
Flexibility is defined as the extent or full range of movement in any joint.
Flexibility as a component of physical fitness is the ability of an individual to move the body and its parts through as wide a range of movement as possible without undue strain to the articulation and muscle attachments (4).
We assessed the trunk flexibility of our performers using modified sit and reach test, while that of shoulder and knees was assessed using goniometry.
Trunk flexibility using modified sit and reach test was highly significant amongst the two groups- 19.6 inches in sprinters and 16.5 inches in controls .
Sprinters belonged to intermediate grade of raw scale norms while controls were just beginners according to raw scale norms (Annexure I).
The values for shoulder and knee goniometry in sprinters were 179.3 degrees and 133.3 degrees for flexion as well as extension while controls showed a value of 174.6 degrees and 126.2 degrees. According to American academy of Orthopedic surgeons(6), value of maximum shoulder flexion is 180 degrees which is in complete coherence with our study.
Values obtained for flexibility were highly significant in spinters than the control group. Flexibility of one joint does not indicate that the flexibilities of other joints are also the same in an individual. Hence flexibilities are specific for a given joints and the standard values for different sport differs (6).
An excellent degree of flexibility can be achieved by exercise schedule comprising of light warm-up rounds followed by static and dynamic stretching exercises (7). This schedule will not help attain the player the desired flexibility but also will prevent them from untoward injuries.
Hence our study is unique one in relation to flexibility.
Agility is defined as the ability of an individual to rapidly change the body position and direction in a precise manner. Agility was assessed using burpee’s squat thrust, shuttle run and quadrant jump.
Sprinters had an average score of 19.47 for burpe’s squat thrust and belonged to intermediate grade of raw scale norms (Annexure II) while controls scored 17.8 .They also belonged to intermediate grade of raw scale norms.
Agility by shuttle run was 10.75 seconds in sprinters but controls required a longer time of 11.4 sec . Sprinters belonged to 15th percentile whereas controls at just 10th percentile of raw scale (Annexure III).
The average value of quadrant jump in sprinters was 19.8 and that for controls was 17.7 . Both of them were in intermediate grade of raw scale (Annexure IV). The scores for shuttle run and quadrant jump were highly significant than the controls while those in burpee’s squat thrust were just significant.
Young WB, McDowell MH, Scarlett BJ (8) investigated effect of conversion of sprint training to agility performance and agility training to straight sprint speed and concluded that speed training resulted in significant improvement in straight sprinting speed but limited gains in agility test.
Cochrane DJ, Legg SJ (9) studied effect of whole body vibration training on agility performance and came to conclusion that the WBV training does not enhance performance in non elite athlete as no significant difference was obtained for agility.
Our study reveals that, sprinters had more flexibility and agility as compared to age matched controls. In addition to all other fitness parameters like strength, endurance, lean body mass, aerobic capacity, speed,short reaction time: flexibility and agility are utmost essential for being a good sprinter and reach the international competitions(10). However the international standards for flexibility and agility begs furthure scrutiny as well. Our study concludes that flexibility, agility
of our sprinters were far behind the excellent score for championship which are the determinants of short distance running or sprinting.
Medalist performances no longer occur at random or as a result of chance alone. International level sports performances in various games and sports are influenced by many factors such as level of physical fitness parameters, physiological and psychological abilities, techniques, tactics, physique etc.
Physical fitness parameters like speed, flexibility, agility, strength, endurance of Olympic, international and national athletes has been a subject of great interest for many research workers. These dimensions are necessary for success in track and field events .
To help sprinters perform successfully in their competitions and reach international levels, important factors related to a successful performance should be identified and all such physical fitness measures should be assessed in selection criteria. They should be regularly assessed and trained. The training schedule should be more specific for that particular sprinter based on his dimensions. In addition to this regular preseason training programs with different means to improve these parameters should be inculcated. In general, the training schedule should include warm up exercises, followed by light static stretching, followed by game specific skill training, strength training 4 times / week along with plyometric alternating to resistance training.
Good nutrition also plays an important role in a runner’s overall health and fitness. Specific requirements for vitamins and minerals and especially proteins are essential for recovery and preventing injuries. Fluids and proper hydration are key components in preventing dehydration, fatigue, and poor performance for all runners. Continuing improvements in the performance of short distance runners and increasing levels of participation needs to be generated to know more about the physiology sprinters.
Raw score norms for Modified Sit and reach test.
|23 ¾ above||Advanced|
|21 ¼ – 23 ¾||Adv. Intermediate|
|18 ¾ – 21||Intermediate|
|17 – 18 ½||Adv. Beginner|
|Below 16 ¾||Beginner|
Raw score norms for Burpee’s squat thrust test.
|34 – above||Advanced|
|29 – 33||Adv. Intermediate|
|17 – 28||Intermediate|
|12 – 0.16||Adv. Beginner|
|0 – 11||Beginner|
Raw score norms for Shuttle run test.
|Percentile||Age 15 (yrs)||Age 16 (yrs)||Age 17 + (yrs)|
Raw score norms for Quadrant jump test.
|31 – above||Advanced|
|25 – 30||Adv. Intermediate|
|13 – 24||Intermediate|
|7 – 12||Adv. Beginner|
|0 – 6||Beginner|
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3. Essentials of exercise physiology: William D MaCardle, Frank I Katch, Victor L Katch, 3rd edition.
4. Barry L. Johnson, Jack K. Nelson, Practical measurements for evaluation in physical education, NY. Surjeet publication, 3rd edition, 1988.
5. Cynthia C Norkin, D Joyle White, meaurements of joint motion. A guide to goniometry, jaypee production, 2004, 3rd edition, 60-65.
6. AAOS: Joint motion: Method of measuring and recording, AAOS, Chicago, 1965.
7. Dr. SB Choudhari, Fellowship of sports sciences, Vol II, Medvarsity online, Hyderabad.
10. HS Sodhi, LS Siddhu Physique and selection of sportsmen: Kinanthropometric study, 1984, Punjab Publishing house, Patiala.
Dr. Vandana S. Daulatabad* Dr. Prafull A. Kamble Dr. P.S. Baji
Ashwini Rural Medical College, Hospital & research Centre, Kumbhari, Solapur