Dr Stuart McErlain-Naylor is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics at Loughborough University, UK. He is currently Vice President (Publications) of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports.
Alongside a passion for engaging the wider audience in all things sports biomechanics, Stuart’s research interests include the application of wearable technology and computer simulation methods to investigate the human body’s response to sporting impacts.
To discuss collaboration or consultancy, just send a mesage. For the best things I read each month, as well as publication, presentation, and project updates, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter.
PhD in Sports Biomechanics, 2018
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (Fellow of the Higher Education Academy), 2020
University of Suffolk
BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences, 2013
Publications: View and search open access versions of my publications and related resources
Lectures: 28 free expert lectures on sports biomechanics, as well as tutorials and research presentations
Resources: Recommended free resources for every stage of the research process
Newsletter: A monthly update of the best things I’ve read recently, as well as publications and resources
Applying wearable technology and computer simulation to investigate the body’s response to sporting impacts
Organismic, task, and environmental constraints are known to differ between skilled male and female cricket batters during power hitting tasks. Despite these influences, the techniques used in such tasks have only been investigated in male cricket batters. This study compared power hitting kinematics between 15 male and 15 female batters ranging from university to international standard. General linear models were used to assess the effect of gender on kinematic parameters describing technique, with height and body mass as covariates. Male batters generated greater maximum bat speeds, ball launch speeds, and ball carry distances than female batters on average. Male batters had greater pelvis-thorax separation in the transverse plane at the commencement of the downswing (β = 1.14; p = 0.030) and extended their lead elbows more during the downswing (β = 1.28; p = 0.008) compared to female batters. The hypothesised effect of gender on the magnitude of wrist uncocking during the downswing was not observed (β = −0.14; p = 0.819). The causes of these differences are likely to be multi-factorial, involving aspects relating to the individual players, their history of training experiences and coaching practices, and the task of power hitting in male or female cricket.
The identification of optimum technique for maximal effort sporting tasks is one of the greatest challenges within sports biomechanics. A theoretical approach using forward-dynamics simulation allows individual parameters to be systematically perturbed independently of potentially confounding variables. Each study typically follows a four-stage process of model construction, parameter determination, model evaluation, and model optimization. This review critically evaluates forward-dynamics simulation models of maximal effort sporting movements using a dynamical systems theory framework. Organismic, environmental, and task constraints applied within such models are critically evaluated, and recommendations are made regarding future directions and best practices. The incorporation of self-organizational processes representing movement variability and “intrinsic dynamics” remains limited. In the future, forward-dynamics simulation models predicting individual-specific optimal techniques of sporting movements may be used as indicative rather than prescriptive tools within a coaching framework to aid applied practice and understanding, although researchers and practitioners should continue to consider concerns resulting from dynamical systems theory regarding the complexity of models and particularly regarding self-organization processes.
The purpose of this study was to quantify the magnitude and frequency content of surface-measured accelerations at each major human body segment from foot to head during impact landings. Twelve males performed two single leg drop landings from each of 0.15 m, 0.30 m, and 0.45 m. Triaxial accelerometers (2000 Hz) were positioned over the: first metatarsophalangeal joint; distal anteromedial tibia; superior to the medial femoral condyle; L5 vertebra; and C6 vertebra. Analysis of acceleration signal power spectral densities revealed two distinct components, 2-14 Hz and 14-58 Hz, which were assumed to correspond to time domain signal joint rotations and elastic wave tissue deformation, respectively. Between each accelerometer position from the metatarsophalangeal joint to the L5 vertebra, signals exhibited decreased peak acceleration, increased time to peak acceleration, and decreased power spectral density integral of both the 2-14 Hz and 14-58 Hz components, with no further attenuation beyond the L5 vertebra. This resulted in peak accelerations close to vital organs of less than 10% of those at the foot. Following landings from greater heights, peak accelerations measured distally were greater, as was attenuation prior to the L5 position. Active and passive mechanisms within the lower limb therefore contribute to progressive attenuation of accelerations, preventing excessive accelerations from reaching the torso and head, even when distal accelerations are large.
A logarithmic curve fitting methodology for the calculation of badminton racket-shuttlecock impact locations from three-dimensional motion capture data was presented and validated. Median absolute differences between calculated and measured impact locations were 3.6 [IQR: 4.4] and 3.5 [IQR: 3.5] mm mediolaterally and longitudinally on the racket face, respectively. Three-dimensional kinematic data of racket and shuttlecock were recorded for 2386 smashes performed by 65 international badminton players, with racket-shuttlecock impact location assessed against instantaneous post-impact shuttlecock speed and direction. Mediolateral and longitudinal impact locations explained 26.2% (quadratic regression; 95% credible interval: 23.1%, 29.2%; BF10 = 1.3 × 10131, extreme; p < 0.001) of the variation in participant-specific shuttlecock speed. A meaningful (BF10 = ∞, extreme; p < 0.001) linear relationship was observed between mediolateral impact location and shuttlecock horizontal direction relative to a line normal to the racket face at impact. Impact locations within one standard deviation of the pooled mean impact location predict reductions in post-impact shuttlecock speeds of up to 5.3% of the player’s maximal speed and deviations in the horizontal direction of up to 2.9° relative to a line normal to the racket face. These results highlight the margin for error available to elite badminton players during the smash.
This study aimed to investigate the contributions of kinetic and kinematic parameters to inter-individual variation in countermovement jump (CMJ) performance. Two-dimensional kinematic data and ground reaction forces during a CMJ were recorded for 18 males of varying jumping experience. Ten kinetic and eight kinematic parameters were determined for each performance, describing peak lower-limb joint torques and powers, concentric knee extension rate of torque development and CMJ technique. Participants also completed a series of isometric knee extensions to measure the rate of torque development and peak torque. CMJ height ranged from 0.38 to 0.73 m (mean 0.55 ± 0.09 m). CMJ peak knee power, peak ankle power and take-off shoulder angle explained 74% of this observed variation. CMJ kinematic (58%) and CMJ kinetic (57%) parameters explained a much larger proportion of the jump height variation than the isometric parameters (18%), suggesting that coachable technique factors and the joint kinetics during the jump are important determinants of CMJ performance. Technique, specifically greater ankle plantar-flexion and shoulder flexion at take-off (together explaining 58% of the CMJ height variation), likely influences the extent to which maximal muscle capabilities can be utilised during the jump.
Using an expert consensus-based approach, a netball video analysis consensus (NVAC) group of researchers and practitioners was formed to develop a video analysis framework of descriptors and definitions of physical, technical and contextual aspects for netball research. The framework aims to improve the consistency of language used within netball investigations. It also aims to guide injury mechanism reporting and identification of injury risk factors. The development of the framework involved a systematic review of the literature and a Delphi process. In conjunction with commercially used descriptors and definitions, 19 studies were used to create the initial framework of key descriptors and definitions in netball. In a two round Delphi method consensus, each expert rated their level of agreement with each of the descriptors and associated definition on a 5-point Likert scale (1—strongly disagree; 2—somewhat disagree; 3—neither agree nor disagree; 4—somewhat agree; 5—strongly agree). The median (IQR) rating of agreement was 5.0 (0.0), 5.0 (0.0) and 5.0 (0.0) for physical, technical and contextual aspects, respectively. The NVAC group recommends usage of the framework when conducting video analysis research in netball. The use of descriptors and definitions will be determined by the nature of the work and can be combined to incorporate further movements and actions used in netball. The framework can be linked with additional data, such as injury surveillance and microtechnology data.
The main aim of cricket fielding is to minimize runs scored by the opposing batting team. This is achieved through (a) collecting a batted ball and returning it to the wicket-keeper to prevent runs from being scored, (b) dismissing a batter by catching a batted ball, (c) running a batter out by throwing the ball to strike the stumps, or 4) preventing a batted ball from hitting the boundary. These tasks require various physical fitness attributes, which can be developed through progressive strength and conditioning programming. To support strength and conditioning coaches in developing tailored programs for fielding, this narrative review provides comprehensive information, including a needs analysis, match demands, and injury epidemiology. Furthermore, programming considerations are given for physical testing, program design, and youth fielders. It is recommended to design and implement a well-rounded training program for fielding, focusing on developing a broad range of physical fitness attributes (e.g., aerobic fitness, speed, acceleration, change of direction speed, agility, and upper-body and lower-body strength and power). A combination of traditional weight training exercises and cricket-specific drills can be implemented to achieve this target. This approach allows the training program to meet the specific needs for high- performance fielding.
This study examined 503 power-hitting strokes that resulted in the maximum of 6-runs being scored in international men’s one-day and T20 cricket. Chi-Squared analyses were conducted to determine if performance and situational variables were associated with the distribution (direction) of aerial power-hitting strokes. Results revealed that bowling length, bowling line, bowler type and powerplays were all significantly (p < 0.001) associated with ball-hitting distribution. Post-hoc analysis of the standardised residuals revealed that greater than expected 6ʹs were scored behind square and were associated with short-pitched bowling, fast bowling and the power-play. Similarly, bowling the half-volley length and the outside off line resulted in greater than expected 6ʹs on the off-side. The results suggest that bowlers should try to avoid offering width outside the off stump as well as bowling the half-volley and short-pitched lengths as these bowling lines and lengths present batters with greater opportunities to score maximum runs. Fast bowling is revealed to be more susceptible to power-hitting strokes than spin bowling. Conversely, batters may wish to target the areas behind square or on the off-side for opportunities to score maximum runs, and they should look to take full advantage of the powerplay field restrictions.
The effect of load on time-series data has yet to be investigated during weightlifting derivatives. This study compared the effect of load on the force–time and velocity–time curves during the countermovement shrug (CMS). Twenty-nine males performed the CMS at relative loads of 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%, 120%, and 140% one repetition maximum (1RM) power clean (PC). A force plate measured the vertical ground reaction force (VGRF), which was used to calculate the barbell-lifter system velocity. Time-series data were normalized to 100% of the movement duration and assessed via statistical parametric mapping (SPM). SPM analysis showed greater negative velocity at heavier loads early in the unweighting phase (12–38% of the movement), and greater positive velocity at lower loads during the last 16% of the movement. Relative loads of 40% 1RM PC maximised propulsion velocity, whilst 140% 1RM maximized force. At higher loads, the braking and propulsive phases commence at an earlier percentage of the time-normalized movement, and the total absolute durations increase with load. It may be more appropriate to prescribe the CMS during a maximal strength mesocycle given the ability to use supramaximal loads. Future research should assess training at different loads on the effects of performance.