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Open AccessArticle

Stride and Step Length Obtained with Inertial Measurement Units during Maximal Sprint Acceleration

Department of Human Movement Sciences, Faculty of Behavioral and Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sports 2019, 7(9), 202;
Received: 19 July 2019 / Revised: 27 August 2019 / Accepted: 29 August 2019 / Published: 31 August 2019
During sprint acceleration, step length, step rate, ground contact, and airtime are key variables for coaches to guide the training process and technical development of their athletes. In the field, three of these variables are easily obtained with inertial measurement units (IMUs), but, unfortunately, valid estimates of step length with IMUs currently are limited to low speeds (<50% max). A simple method is proposed here to derive step length during maximal sprint acceleration, using IMUs on both feet and two timing gates only. Mono-exponential velocity-time functions are fitted to the 30-m (split) and 60-m times, which in combination with IMU-derived step durations yield estimates of step length. To validate this approach, sixteen well-trained athletes with IMUs on the insteps of both feet executed two 60-m maximal sprints, starting from a three-point position. As a reference, step lengths were determined from video data. The reference step lengths combined with IMU-derived step durations yielded a time series of step velocity that confirmed the appropriateness of a mono-exponential increase of step velocity (R2 ≥ 0.96). The comparison of estimated step lengths to reference measurements showed no significant difference (p > 0.05) and acceptable agreement (root mean square error, RMSE = 8.0 cm, bias ± Limits of Agreement = −0.15 ± 16 cm). Step length estimations further improved (RMSE = 5.7 cm, −0.16 ± 11 cm) after smoothing the original estimated step lengths with a third order polynomial function (R2 = 0.94 ± 0.04). In conclusion, during maximal sprint acceleration, acceptable estimates of stride and step length were obtained from IMU-derived step times and 30-m (split) and 60-m sprint times. View Full-Text
Keywords: IMU; velocity; athletics; sprint start IMU; velocity; athletics; sprint start
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de Ruiter, C.J.; van Dieën, J.H. Stride and Step Length Obtained with Inertial Measurement Units during Maximal Sprint Acceleration. Sports 2019, 7, 202.

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