In this post, I am going to talk about one of the PhD student's study: The biomechanics of rugby kicking.
Before starting, I think it is important to define some key words for those of you who aren’t in the sports science field. Biomechanics is the study of the forces acting on a body or object (a ball for example) and the effects produced by these forces. More precisely, kinematics focuses on the description of the motion of a body while kinetics explains how those movements are created.
In this post, I am going to talk about one of the PhD student's study: The biomechanics of rugby kicking. Alex will measure the kinetics and kinematics of kicking of international rugby players as well as provide a mathematical model of the rugby ball trajectory after a kick. This latter element should predict if the ball will go through the rugby posts after having being kicked by a player. Ideally, it would be like the software used in tennis to verify the exact location of the landing of a ball on the court.
I have been assisting in a number of testing sessions so far. During an outdoor session on the rugby pitch, 30 kicks performed by a university player were recorded by five cameras (including high speed cameras). My role was particular important on that day as I had to press "record" and "stop" on 30 different occasions (Hardtimeforplacementstudent). These data are necessary to investigate the ball trajectory and verify where the ball actually lands. It was also important to take into consideration environmental conditions (weather conditions, gravity, air resistance). These measurements will subsequently be included in her final mathematical model.
However our main testing sessions have been carried out in a lab using a very sophisticated software called "Vicon Motus" which is composed of 11 cameras placed at particular location synchronized with a force plate (An instrument measuring the forces that a body/object apply on the floor). It works in combination with a number of reflective markers located on special anatomical landmarks and/or other material, in this case the rugby ball. When the actions are executed, for example a rugby kick, the cameras track the markers’ displacements and the movements are recreated by the software. Another study was performed on International Rugby players in order to practice and test the set-up and equipment which also provided some technical data to their coach. If you were wondering how it is possible to kick inside the lab with some very expensive material, a net is used to stop the ball.
I am more involved in helping out during the testing session rather than the actual analysis of the data but I enjoy taking part in this project.What has been done so far is considered as a preparation but the best is expected to come with the main participants coming later on during the year.