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Using Vuemotion to maximise on field athletic performance

Dean Benton

The Era of Rapid Insights with AI Gait Analysis

Can you explain why video analysis is used to assess various aspects of running mechanics?

Primarily to assess the qualitative aspects of all forms of running, which could be acceleration, deceleration, max speed, and change of direction (COD). Film as a means of visual feedback has been around for a long time. Although, it took a long time for coaches 50 years ago to access it. However, compared to 30 years ago, it is simply more available – instantly available of course. iPads and iPhones are a compelling form of feedback when working with athletes in very small groups. I would argue that it is too relied upon by younger coaches. It is important to develop observation skills in real-time. Ultimately, a well-trained coaching eye, experience, and judgment are still required to interpret video and apply it to the practical environment. What can be heard, seen, or sensed, still largely cannot be measured. In many ways, it is better initially to learn how to coach without the use of technology. Although, used judiciously video is a very powerful tool.

Now with Vuemotion’s AI gait analysis, we can have video analysed in 24 hours. It was only 20-25 years ago this information took biomechanists about a week to get the same information back to athletics coaches. Although, we now have a situation presently where we are drowning in information, but devoid of wisdom in how to apply it – particularly in a team sport setting. Mainly because it is so easy and seductive to collect this information. However, how is it interpreted? Used in programming and ultimately coached?

Decoding Metrics for Speed and Acceleration

ALTIS Kinogram Method and Beyond

When evaluating max velocity and acceleration what specific metrics or patterns do you look for in the data?

I think the ALTIS Kinogram method is excellent. It can have some relevance to field sports. Although, it is only descriptive in nature and stops short of detailing the ‘reason’ and ‘correction’ for errors. The Kinogram method is valuable for describing linear max speed, but we know it doesn’t reference acceleration and deceleration, which form a significant part of field sport running.

The VueMotion 20m fly and 20m acceleration offer excellent insights into the direct descriptors such as time, speed, stride length, stride frequency, and contact/flight time. The 2-D kinematic analysis also provides a valuable understanding of how a player runs. Acceleration is about what you do on the ground, so I look at how a player does this. Max speed is about what you do in the air, so considering how someone repositions limbs preparing for the ground, is very insightful.

 

Athletics has been assessing gait for years. This provides a good guide for us. However, field sport athletes do run differently and are often heavier than track athletes. This does influence stride length, stride frequency, and contact/flight time parameters, but the art is knowing how to interpret these differences.

 

Optimizing On-Field Performance with Video Feedback

How do you tailor running gait analysis to address rehab needs for injured players? What role does technology play in the process?

Depending on the injury, rehab is where significant performance gains can made. If gait analysis is made part of the return-to-run process it can offer tremendous improvements in objective decision-making when a player is ready to return to team training. We must remember that gait is the foundation of function. We can only infer an athlete’s capabilities from 1-dimensional force plates and Nord boards etc. If we revert to the well-established max speed and COD deterministic models by Dr. Warren Young, they underline the importance of reactive leg strength. With the Prepared to Play Triple Hop Test, we can now measure reactive strength in a much more applied way that takes into vertical, anterior-posterior, and mediolateral forces. Therefore, asymmetries, dysfunction, and lack of coordination with hopping are also observed in running-based tests. Namely through differences in stride length, stride frequency, contact times, and of course, kinematics. Having a focus on the process of ‘how’ a player regains running function is more important than a player’s result. Look after the process the product looks after itself.

 

Collaborating for Comprehensive Training Plans

 

In terms of performance enhancement, how do you leverage video feedback to fine-tune running mechanics and optimize players’ on-field speed, acceleration, and deceleration?

I would only use video feedback in a very small group – when I had time. Deceleration is getting a lot of attention of late. In my opinion, it is being complicated and looked at in a reductionist fashion. A discrete deceleration rarely happens in sports in isolation. However, acceleration and a quick transition to reacceleration are much more common. This should greatly influence how we train, teach, and test deceleration. If we simply look at deceleration as a mirror opposite to acceleration, then it is easy to see what are appropriate techniques for both qualities.

 

With the data obtained from video analysis, how do you collaborate with other professionals like physiotherapists and strength coaches to design comprehensive training plans?

Your average professional knows how to fix problems (retrospectively). The very smart professional prevents problems before they occur. Research and experience show a clear connection between running techniques and common injuries. Frans Bosch wrote an outstanding article on the relationship of injury and running technique in 2015. We can now measure these parameters very easily in our own training environment. As such, using gait analysis to 1. assess injury risk; 2. enhance running performance directly; 3. guide rehabilitation; and, 4. influence how running can be enhanced directly via allied programming.

Integrating Vuemotion for Australian Rules Football

What advice would you give to fellow coaches and practitioners looking to integrate Vuemotion analysis into their approach for enhancing player performance in Australian Rules football?

Not to trivialize the severity of contact in AFL, which can be as severe as any football-rugby code at times. However, it doesn’t have the same amount of contact as the rugby codes. Therefore, this should then influence strength training to be slightly less orthodox and be more about enhancing running performance. Depending on the position played, AFL demands all forms of running (acceleration, deceleration, max speed, and COD). If we accept this, what influences these forms of running? How can they be enhanced? In particular, within the limited time made available. Opportunities to enhance running performance ‘directly’ with players in full training are limited. However, there are numerous opportunities and methods to enhance running performance ‘in-directly’. Some are flexibility and gym-based exercises – namely specific plyometrics, reflex strength training, and functional hip exercises.

We know max speed occurs in training and matches, but not always in absolute terms in relation to a player’s max speed PB. However, depending on the position played, AFL players do spend meaningful time at very high and high-speed running where mechanical efficiency is a huge advantage. So, if we see improving mechanical efficiency as advantageous how do we go about it?

We can’t escape that running speed is determined by stride length and stride frequency. Measuring a player’s leg length will tell us what their stride length should be theoretically. This will inform if they are within, or outside norms associated with speed targets you desire them to attain. For example, some players might have a disproportionally low stride frequency, which is often associated with overstriding. Conversely, some players might be overly dependent on stride frequency (human sewing machines) and not apply enough effective force to attain a desired speed or accelerate to speed. As such, judiciously knowing what plyometrics, what flexibility, and what running drills can correct these outliers can make a big difference in a short period of time – both in terms of performance and risk mitigation.

 

Bosch, F., & IJzerman, J. (2015). Running mechanics in injury prevention and performance. In Sports Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation (pp. 106-120). Routledge.

 

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Dean Benton: Sprint running for football codes | Prepare Like a Pro

Mastering the AFL Marathon - 6 Essential Strategies for Prolonging Your Playing CareerCategoriesPLP Podcast Weekly Updates

Episode 82 – Mastering the AFL Marathon – 6 Essential Strategies for Prolonging Your Playing Career

Introduction

In this blog post, we will explore six essential strategies that can help AFL players achieve “AFL Marathon Mastery,” not only propelling them to prolong their playing careers but also enabling them to excel on the field. From strength training to recovery and lifestyle choices, these two times “AFL Marathon Mastery” will serve as the cornerstone of your longevity and success in the Australian Rules Football (AFL) marathon. Playing AFL requires exceptional physical and mental stamina due to the sport’s high-impact nature and long game duration, making it imperative for players to prioritize their fitness and well-being around “AFL Marathon Mastery.”

Highlights of the episode:

  • Consider training age
  • Consider your body mass
  • Know your medical limitations
  • Know when to do plyometric training
  • Make sure your intent is to move faster

Emphasize Key Compound Movements in the Gym

One crucial aspect of maintaining a successful AFL career is building and preserving strength. Compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and bench pulls, play a vital role in developing overall strength and stability. By consistently incorporating these exercises into your gym routine, you can fortify your muscles, protect your joints, and enhance your ability to resist tackles and maintain balance during high-intensity gameplay.

Incorporate Explosive Movements

Speed and agility are paramount in AFL, and incorporating explosive movements into your training regimen is essential. Sprinting should be a regular part of your training sessions, not just for maximum velocity exposure but also for working on accelerations, which occur more frequently in games. Focus on your first three steps, using power bands and emphasizing proper technique to enhance your acceleration and change of direction abilities. Additionally, include power training sessions in your routine to improve explosiveness and prime your body for peak performance on game days.

Maintain an Aerobic Conditioning Stimulus

AFL is a physically demanding sport that requires both endurance and the ability to recover quickly. In season, it’s crucial to reduce ground contact forces to protect your joints. This can be achieved through off-feet conditioning, such as cycling, swimming, or total body circuits. By incorporating aerobic conditioning exercises, you can build a strong foundation and improve your overall fitness. Pre-season is the ideal time to focus on developing your aerobic base, enabling you to handle high-intensity efforts and recover efficiently throughout the season.

Prioritize Body Health and Recovery

Taking care of your body is paramount to sustaining a successful AFL career. Recovery plays a significant role in preventing injuries and optimizing performance. A simple approach to recovery is to work in minutes equal to the time spent working out. For example, if you spend 45 minutes in the gym and have a 60-minute on-field session, aim for two hours of recovery activities. These activities may include deep tissue massages, light recovery sessions in the pool, stretching, and foam rolling. By prioritizing recovery, you can enhance your resilience, build robustness, and reduce the risk of injuries.

Focus on an Elite Lifestyle: Sleep, Stress, and Nutrition

To perform at your best on and off the field, it is crucial to prioritize three essential aspects of your lifestyle: sleep, stress management, and nutrition. Adequate sleep is vital for recovery and cognitive function, so aim for a consistent and restful sleep routine. Additionally, manage stress effectively by practicing mindfulness, seeking support when needed, and developing coping mechanisms. Lastly, pay close attention to your nutrition. Fueling your body with the right nutrients will provide you with energy, aid in recovery, and optimize your performance. Make healthy food choices and ensure you’re properly hydrated to excel in the demanding AFL environment.

Consult Experts and Injury Prevention

Injuries can be significant setbacks in an AFL career, so it’s crucial to consult with experts to prevent and manage them effectively. Whether you’ve experienced a significant injury, such as an ACL tear, or a minor strain, seek guidance from specialists who can help you restore and improve your range of motion. Working with AFL strategy coaches and injury-specific experts will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to reduce the risk of further injuries. By prioritizing injury prevention, you can continue to perform at your best and avoid potential setbacks.

Conclusion

Prolonging an AFL career requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses strength training, explosive movements, aerobic conditioning, recovery, lifestyle choices, and injury prevention. By implementing these six essential strategies into your training and daily life, you can enhance your performance, increase longevity, and enjoy a successful AFL career. Remember, it’s not just about the game itself but also about the commitment you make to your physical and mental well-being. Master the AFL marathon, and the rewards will follow.

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