Testing Acceleration?

Hello All,

I am currently working on my Masters Thesis. At present, it is a study of the effects of Plyometric Exercise vs. Weight Training on Acceleration in Sprinters. The problem I forsee is how to measure acceleration in my subjects.

Looking at most of the literature, 20 or 30m pre and post tests have been done, with increases or decreases in times used to demonstrate acceleration. A professor, not on my committee, has suggested that this may be a problem based on the “physics” of acceleration, in that all subjects will have different distances of acceleration and 20 or 30m is too general. Some may stop accelerating at 15m while others continue to accelerate for 32m.

I’m looking for suggestions from this group as to how I can put this analysis into a testable and describable thesis, without going broke having to purchase too much equipment.



There will be no real direct effect on acceleration with either Plyos or resistance training. Only accelerating will effect accelerating directly. Will you test the subjects by having them do either plyos or weights, with no other sort of training? This shouldn’t cost you much at all if you can find a Digital Video camera to borrow. A gym pass and some track spikes should be all you need.

Trackrat, what facilities do you currently have available? I’m guessing you have timing lights? If so how many gates? Why not just have gates at 5m intervals from 0-50m that should cover most of the subjects you are likely to get in a university study (unless you have access to an elite sprint population) and will give you suffiecient data on their acceleration curves. In my experience most untrained people are already starting to decelerate by 40m… Best option might be to try and get hold of a laser system eg LAVEG which would allow you to plot a continuous acceleration curve, pretty expensive to buy though i would think.
Have you seen the Rimmer and Sleivert paper J strength & Cond Res, 2000; 14(3): 295-301… should be of interest to you as is a very similar topic, and from memory did show a positive effect of plyos on sprint performance (would have to check to be sure of that though!).

To measure acceleration, try running the 20’s and 30’s normally and also try flying 20’s and 30’s where when the athlete crosses the start line they are already at full speed. This will allow you to see how quickly they have the ability to accelerate from a start position to full speed. Does that help or am I off on what you’re asking?