Scaling sports equipment for children promotes functional movement variability

Buszard, Tim ORCID: 0000-0002-2987-1075, Garofolini, Alessandro ORCID: 0000-0002-1789-2362, Reid, Machar, Farrow, Damian ORCID: 0000-0002-5020-7910, Oppici, Luca and Whiteside, David (2020) Scaling sports equipment for children promotes functional movement variability. Scientific Reports, 10 (1). ISSN 2045-2322 (In Press)


© 2020, The Author(s). Scaling sports equipment to match the physical development of children allows motor skills to be performed with greater success and with more desirable movement patterns. It is unknown, however, how scaled equipment affects movement variability – a key factor associated with coordination. Our aim was to identify whether scaled sports equipment facilitates coordination and functional movement variability in children when performing a hitting for accuracy task in tennis. Twenty-five children were asked to execute a forehand stroke with the aim of hitting the ball to a target located 10 metres away. Participants performed the task in two conditions – a scaled equipment condition and a full-sized equipment condition. Scaled equipment led to superior hitting accuracy and greater temporal stability of the swing compared to full-sized equipment. Scaled equipment also afforded the emergence of a functional coupling between upper arm and forearm movement variability which helped regulate the distance between the shoulder and the racket. Comparatively there was a lack of coupling when full-sized equipment was used. Hence, scaled equipment promoted functional movement variability, whereas full-sized equipment resulted in the freezing of mechanical degrees of freedom. This suggests that children’s skill acquisition could be hindered and potentially regress when using inappropriately sized equipment.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-59475-5
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Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords forward-swing ; angular computation ; racket-shoulder distance ; kinematics ; swing time ; racket-shoulder distance
Citations in Scopus 19 - View on Scopus
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