An accelerometer can detect magnitude and direction. With an accelerometer you can look at G-forces, collisions, monitor activity, complex motions, the uses are endless and up to the imagination of the user.
Although, accelerometers have been available commercially for more than 25 years, a broad consensus of how to use these tools has not been established. A few years ago, scientists held a conference for 2 1/2 days on accelerometer usage. They presented papers, shared original research and served as members of a knowledgeable audience that ultimately evaluated, spurned on and discussed ideas. In their discussions none suggested using the natural accelerometer, a ponytail to measure motion or estimate G-forces.
Kaylee Gittleson ran hurdles for Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. The team won three out of four Division I State Championships during her four years. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan. Kaylee was told by her dad to write about training from her perspective on the Rogers Blog.
FROM THE COACH’S DAUGHTER
My Dad was a Strength Coach for 30 years. I literally grew up in a gym with furniture. Kaylee explains, sometimes you can see what scientists are working to discover.
My father and I were watching an old video of one of my high school track meets. I started laughing about how some girls ponytails were bouncing so much more than others.
What you are watching are natural accelerometers…my father replied”
According to the research my father handed me, when a person walks their head moves slightly up and down with their upper body. The brain uses the body’s musculature to maintain the head’s stability by balancing it.
A person with a ponytail who is walking has a ponytail and head that is quite stable. As they walk faster the ponytail begins to bounce a little more as the heel strikes the ground. When running things become quite different. The head begins to, not only bounce, but pitch and roll as the body leaps and falls. The torso adds insult by swaying from front to back and also twisting. The head is also thrust forward and down.
The ponytail flies side to side, up and down in a figure 8 motion reflecting the movements of the head trying to balance on this wild kinematic ride. Head vertical accelerations can reach 2-4 G’s and causes head pitching that must be checked by foot placement and intricate muscular movements by the head and neck to protect the brain that is being sloshed around in the skull.
The brain is good at protecting itself, but coaches and athletes object is to move forward faster. So, a coach provides the athlete with strategies adjusting natural kinematics. Coaches like to call these strategies, running form.
To see who has good running mechanics just watch the ponytail,,,, my father said… If it flies right they are running right.
By managing the ponytail and getting it to fly right, you are changing the athletes running mechanics and monitoring G-forces to the skull caused by increased heel strike as the athlete sprints forward faster.
You can actually evaluate your own coaching techniques based on ponytail motion. “Well, I was thinking, ‘this is pretty cool’ and there are a lot of ponytails in women’s track. But what about football I asked?”
No problem ……my father replied.
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