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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the anthropometric and physical characteristics of youth elite paddlers and to identify the differences between kayakers and canoeists. A total of 171 male paddlers (eighty-nine kayakers and eighty-two canoeists), aged 13.69 ± 0.57 years (mean ± SD) volunteered to participate in this study. The participants completed basic anthropometric assessments (body mass, stretch stature, sitting height, body mass index, maturity level, sum of 6 skinfolds and fat mass percentage) as well as a battery of physical fitness tests (overhead medicine ball throw, counter movement jump, sit-and-reach and 20 m multi-stage shuttle run tests). The anthropometric results revealed a significantly larger body size (stretch stature and sitting height) and body mass in the kayakers (p < 0.01) as well as a more mature biological status (p = 0.003). The physical fitness level exhibited by the kayakers was likewise significantly greater than that of the canoeists, both in the counter movement jump and estimated VO2max (p < 0.05), as well as in the overhead medicine ball throw and sit-and-reach test (p < 0.01). These findings confirm the more robust and mature profile of youth kayakers that might be associated with the superior fitness level observed and the specific requirements of this sport discipline.
Journal of Human Kinetics volume 57/2017, 181-190 DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0059 181
Section III – Sports Training
1 - Department of Physical Activity and Sports, Catholic University of San Antonio, Murcia, Spain.
2 - Faculty of Education Sciences, Nursing and Physiotherapy. Laboratory of Kinesiology, Biomechanics and Ergonomic
(KIBIOMER), University of Almería, Almería, Spain.
3 - Department of Physical Education. University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain.
.
Authors submitted their contribution to the article to the editorial board.
Accepted for printing in the Journal of Human Kinetics vol. 57/2017 in June 2017.
Differences in Anthropometry, Biological Age and Physical
Fitness Between Young Elite Kayakers and Canoeists
by
Daniel López-Plaza1, Fernando Alacid1, José María Muyor2,
Pedro Ángel López-Miñarro3
The aim of this study was to determine the anthropometric and physical characteristics of youth elite paddlers
and to identify the differences between kayakers and canoeists. A total of 171 male paddlers (eighty-nine kayakers and
eighty-two canoeists), aged 13.69 ± 0.57 years (mean ± SD) volunteered to participate in this study. The participants
completed basic anthropometric assessments (body mass, stretch stature, sitting height, body mass index, maturity
level, sum of 6 skinfolds and fat mass percentage) as well as a battery of physical fitness tests (overhead medicine ball
throw, counter movement jump, sit-and-reach and 20 m multi-stage shuttle run tests). The anthropometric results
revealed a significantly larger body size (stretch stature and sitting height) and body mass in the kayakers (p < 0.01) as
well as a more mature biological status (p = 0.003). The physical fitness level exhibited by the kayakers was likewise
significantly greater than that of the canoeists, both in the counter movement jump and estimated VO2max (p < 0.05),
as well as in the overhead medicine ball throw and sit-and-reach test (p < 0.01). These findings confirm the more robust
and mature profile of youth kayakers that might be associated with the superior fitness level observed and the specific
requirements of this sport discipline.
Key words: anthropometry, physical fitness, biological age, kayak, canoe.
Introduction
Systematic sport training has been related
to the development of certain physical attributes
along with specific changes in the morphological
characteristics of athletes (Gabbett and Georgieff,
2007; Ross and Marfell-Jones, 1991). Although a
complex group of different variables favours
performance in a given sport, there are some
attributes which seem to be common in the most
successful athletes (Leone et al., 2002). Over the
past few years, research into the relationship
between anthropometry and performance has
increased (Gabbett and Georgieff, 2007; Mielgo-
Ayuso et al., 2015). In most sports, the athletes’
overall status may be determined by means of
general and specific field tests, since a strong
correlation has been consistently reported
between the fitness level and the individual
performance attained (Pyne et al., 2006; van
Someren and Howatson, 2008). Traditionally, the
determination of a physical profile in a given
sport involves the use of predictive testing as a
measure of power and strength (Cronin and
Hansen, 2005), speed (Gabbett and Georgieff,
2007), aerobic fitness (Leone et al., 2002) or
flexibility (Simoneau, 1998). Along with
measurements of body dimensions, predictive
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fitness tests provide an appraisal of the structural
and physical status that may be used to describe
the ‘typical’ successful athlete in a given sport
(Ross and Marfell-Jones, 1991).
Within particular sports, there exist
various disciplines or playing positions with
specific demands that require different
approaches in training and are associated with
different physical and morphological
characteristics (Gabbett and Georgieff, 2007;
Mielgo-Ayuso et al., 2015). Sprint canoeing is a
cyclic sport which consists of two disciplines -
kayaking and canoeing - both aiming to cover a
specific distance as quickly as possible, and
crossing the finish line before the opponents
(Aitken and Neal, 1992; Shephard, 1987). From a
biomechanical perspective, movement in
kayaking consists of double-blade paddle cyclic
movements on both sides of the boat, coordinated
through pedalling movements and trunk rotation
in a seated position, whereas canoeing consists of
single-blade paddle cyclic movements performed
on the same side of the boat from a kneeling
position (up on one knee). Although there have
been relatively few studies comparing the
anthropometric attributes of both disciplines, the
majority have agreed on the greater size and body
mass of the kayakers (Arlettaz et al., 2004; Hirata,
1977). Conversely, a trend towards a larger thigh
girth has been exhibited in canoeists, which might
be related to the greater sum of 8 skinfolds
observed in these athletes (Alacid et al., 2015;
Ridge et al., 2007).
Traditionally, research into kayaking is
primarily focused on physiological testing of the
athletes in order to determine fitness levels and
then designing training programs to optimize
physiological fitness (Aitken and Neal, 1992).
Early studies only analysed VO2max to monitor
and assess the physiological capacity of elite
kayakers (Pendergast et al., 1979; Tesch et al.,
1976). Nevertheless, the measurement of maximal
oxygen uptake of paddlers is not the only possible
determinant of performance. While characteristics
of the sport demand that kayakers paddle most of
the race at or around peak VO2 (Bishop et al.,
2002), requiring high aerobic power, the anaerobic
aspects should not be overlooked (Fry and
Morton, 1991; Tesch et al., 1976). Other variables
apart from VO2 have been associated with
optimal performance in paddling (Pendergast et
al., 1979; Tesch et al., 1976). Fry and Morton (1991)
using a battery of anthropometric and
physiological tests, determined the most
important attributes of elite sprint kayakers.
Anthropometric variables such as muscle mass,
height, body fat, and limb length have been
identified as factors contributing to obtain optimal
performance (Fry and Morton, 1991; Shephard,
1987; Sklad et al., 1994). The relationship between
anthropometry and performance has also been
confirmed by other studies (Ackland et al., 2003;
Gobbo et al., 2002; van Someren et al., 2001) in an
attempt to determine elite kayaking profiles in
seniors and juniors, while in canoeing this
relationship has not yet been studied, making a
comparison between disciplines impossible.
Research into sprint paddling has focused
only on investigating each variable separately,
and has never taken field-based testing into
consideration in the determination of paddler
profiles, offering only a limited picture of the
overall status of the athletes. Therefore, the
purpose of this study was to identify the
anthropometric and physical prole of youth elite
paddlers competing at a high level and to
compare them between disciplines. It was
hypothesized that kayakers and canoeists would
have different anthropometric and physical
characteristics, as a result of different demands of
each sport discipline.
Material and Methods
Participants
A total of 171 youth male paddlers
(eighty-nine kayakers and eighty-two canoeists),
aged 13.69 ± 0.57 years (mean ± SD), with training
experience of 3.80 ± 1.78 and 2.51 ± 1.38 years
(mean ± SD), respectively, participated in this
study. The inclusion criteria were (a) training on
regular basis between 4 and 6 d · wk-1, (b) at least
2 hours of daily training and (c) being selected
that year by the Royal Spanish Canoeing
Federation as the best in their age category to
participate in National Development Camps
between 2005 and 2008. The Institutional Ethics
Committee of the Catholic University of San
Antonio approved the study and a signed written
informed consent form was obtained from the
participants and their parents before the
beginning of testing. Any participant reporting
illness or pharmacological treatment during the
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testing period was excluded from the study.
Procedures
A series of physical and anthropometric
tests was performed over a 3 day period at the
National Development Camps. Before the
beginning of each physical test, clear instructions
were given to all participants, as well as a warm-
up time consisting of 6-8 minutes of multi-
directional running and 5 minutes of upper and
lower limb general dynamic stretching supervised
by a strength coach. A 5-minute familiarisation
time with the materials and procedures was also
provided as part of the specific warm-up for each
test. The testing session began with
anthropometric assessments followed by upper
and lower body physical tests to prevent any
potential body composition changes (Gabbett and
Georgieff, 2007). In addition, the participants were
required to abstain from intensive training
sessions 48 hours before the National Camps and
retain their normal pre-training diet prior to
testing.
Anthropometry
Anthropometric variables included age
(years), body mass (kg), stretch stature (cm),
sitting height (cm), and the sum of 6 skinfolds
(mm) (triceps, subscapular, supraspinale,
abdominal, front thigh and medial calf), and were
measured following the guidelines described by
the International Society for the Advancement of
Kinanthropometry (ISAK) (Stewart et al., 2011).
Body mass was evaluated using a SECA 862 scale
(SECA, Germany); stretch stature and sitting
height were determined with a GPM
anthropometer (Siber-Hegner, Switzerland), and
skinfolds with a Harpenden skinfold calliper
(British Indicators, UK). All instruments were
calibrated at the beginning of each testing session
to prevent measurement errors. A fully certified
Level-2 ISAK anthropometrist measured each
variable two or three times, if the difference
between the first two measurements were greater
than 5% for the skinfolds and 1% for the rest of
the dimensions, with the mean values (or median
in the last case) used for further data analysis. The
intra-rater technical error of measurement was set
at 3.05% for the skinfolds and 0.69% for the other
variables. The body mass index (BMI) was
determined by the equation: body mass (kg)/
stretch stature2 (m), while fat mass content (%)
was calculated following the procedures defined
by Slaughter et al. (1988), which take into
consideration the sum of 6 skinfolds. The
measurements showed an intra-class correlation
coefficient (ICC) of 0.85 for test-retest reliability
and a coefficient of variation (CV) of 3.8%.
Maturity
Biological maturity was estimated for
each participant according to the procedures
described by Mirwald et al. (2002). The age at
peak height velocity (APHV) was considered as a
maturational benchmark (0 value) and each
measurement was described as years from peak
height velocity (PHV), assuming the difference in
years as a value of the maturity offset.
Upper body power assessment
To evaluate upper body muscular power,
the Overhead Medicine Ball Throw test (OMBT)
was performed using a 3-kg medicine ball
(Gabbett and Georgieff, 2007; Mielgo-Ayuso et al.,
2015). From a standing and arm-relaxed position
the participants were instructed to throw the ball
as far forward as possible. Counter movements
were allowed as long as the feet were not moved
during the test. The distance of the throw was
recorded to the nearest centimetre, taking for
analysis the best of 3 throws with at least 2 min
rest between attempts. The measurements
showed an intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC)
of 0.95 for test-retest reliability and a coefficient of
variation (CV) of 3.2%.
Lower body power assessment
The Counter Movement Jump test (CMJ)
was used for the determination of lower body
strength following the recommendations
described by Temfemo et al. (2009). All jumps
were performed on a Bosco platform (Bosco
System) which recorded athletes' contact time (m ·
s-1). A counter movement until approximately 90º
of knee flexion was allowed prior to the jump. The
best of 3 attempts, with at least 3 min rest in-
between was recorded for posterior Jump height
(m) calculations. An intra-class correlation
coefficient (ICC) of 0.99 for test-retest reliability
and a coefficient of variation (CV) of 2.2% were
shown by the CMJ test.
Flexibility
A Sit-and-Reach test (SR) was selected to
determine hamstring flexibility. The participants
were required to sit with their legs together and
knees extended with heels flat against the bottom
of a testing board (Richflex System, Sportime,
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Atlanta). By sliding their hands together one over
the other, participants were asked to slowly reach
as far forward as possible along the testing board
and to hold the resulting position for at least two
seconds. The examiner then registered the
distance reached to the nearest centimetre by
means of a tape measure placed on the top of the
board with the zero mark representing the plantar
surface. Therefore, positive values were
considered once participants had reached beyond
their toes. The best result of 3 attempts was
recorded for further analysis, with a rest time
between attempts of at least 3 minutes. The
measurements showed an intra-class correlation
coefficient (ICC) of 0.90 for test-retest reliability
and a coefficient of variation (CV) of 2.9%.
Maximum oxygen uptake
Maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) was
estimated following the procedures described by
Lager and Lambert (1982) for the multi-stage
shuttle run test (mp3 version, Coachwise, UK).
Each participant was required to perform a
progressively faster 20-m shuttle run, being timed
with an audible “beep”, until reaching volitional
exhaustion. If two consecutive shuttles were not
completed in time, the participant was excluded
for the next repetition; this being considered the
end of the test. The last successful repetition made
by the athlete was registered for subsequent
VO2max estimation using the regression equation
defined by Ramsbottom et al. (1988). The
measurements showed an intra-class correlation
coefficient (ICC) of 0.92 for test-retest reliability
and a coefficient of variation (CV) of 2.6%.
Statistical analysis
The hypotheses of normality and
homogeneity of variance were verified using the
Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and the Levene’s test,
respectively. When statistical tests revealed no
violations of the assumptions of normality and
homogeneity, the difference between the mean
values between groups was analysed using a t-
test for independent samples. The Mann-Whitney
non-parametric test was used when normality
supposition of data was rejected. The level of
significance was set at p < 0.05. Cohen’s d was
used to measure the effect size of observed
differences, and was considered small when
between 0.2 and 0.5, moderate when between 0.5
and 0.8, and large when the effect was > 0.8
(Cohen, 1988). All statistical analyses were
conducted using SPSS v22.0 (SPSS Inc. Chicago IL,
USA).
Results
The results of the anthropometric
variables are summarised for each discipline
(kayak and canoe) in Table 1. It can be observed
that kayakers were significantly heavier and taller
(p < 0.01) than the canoeists, showing small effect
size in body mass (Cohen’s d = 0.4) and medium
effect size values in stretch stature and sitting
height (0.6 in both cases). The analysis also
revealed a significantly greater maturity status in
the kayakers (p = 0.003) when comparing the years
from/to the age at peak height velocity (0.48 ± 0.76
vs 0.10 ± 0.91 for kayakers and canoeists,
respectively). Conversely, no differences between
means or meaningful effect size values were
found regarding the BMI, sum of skinfolds or fat
mass percentage.
The results of the field based test
variables in both kayakers and canoeists are
presented in Table 2. Significantly greater values
were observed in kayakers than in canoeists in the
OMBT test (6.09 ± 1.31 m and 5.56 ± 1.21 m,
respectively) and SR test (8.49 ± 6.17 cm and 3.47 ±
7.77 cm, respectively). Cohen’s d calculations
revealed medium effect size values for both
OMBT (d = 0.7) and SR (d = 0.4). Similarly,
significantly higher values were detected in the
CMJ and estimated VO2max variables in the
kayakers whereas the analysis of the effect size
only revealed a medium effect value for VO2max
(Cohen’s d = 0.5).
Discussion
The main objective of this research was to
determine the anthropometric and physical
characteristics of youth elite paddlers. It should be
highlighted that this is the first comparative
interdisciplinary study between kayaking and
canoeing. The main finding was the significantly
greater physical fitness level and a more robust
and mature anthropometric profile exhibited by
the kayakers. These results provide normative
data about the status of youth male paddlers
competing at a high level which allow for the
identification of an optimal profile for each
discipline.
The basic anthropometric variables have
been seen to be important when identifying the
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most talented paddlers (Ackland et al., 2003;
Alacid et al., 2011; Ridge et al., 2007). Considering
the anthropometric results of the present study,
kayakers revealed a significantly taller and
heavier profile than canoeists. These differences in
the stretch stature (4-5 cm) and body mass (4-5 kg)
are in agreement with those reported in previous
research (Hirata, 1977) that indicated even greater
variations in youth male paddlers (approximately
8-9 cm and 6-9 kg, respectively) (Arlettaz et al.,
2004). When kayakers’ and canoeists’ results are
compared separately with studies of other age
groups, analogous values are obtained in the
stretch stature and body mass (Alacid et al., 2011;
Cuesta et al., 1991) as well as in sitting height
(Alacid et al., 2011, 2015). Previous studies
conducted on Olympic and other elite paddlers
reported BMI values no lower than 23 kg · m-2
(Ackland et al., 2003; Gobbo et al., 2002; Hirata,
1977), which are far beyond those observed in the
current investigation (20.9 and 20.6 kg · m-2 for
kayakers and canoeists, respectively), perhaps
due to the larger lean mass and robust
somatotypes revealed in elite adult paddlers
(Ackland et al., 2003; Alacid et al., 2011; Ridge et
al., 2007). Furthermore, the BMI and lean body
mass, along with other basic anthropometric
variables such as the stretch stature and body
mass have been positively related to better
performance not only in kayaking and canoeing
(Fry and Morton, 1991; van Someren and Palmer,
2003), but also in rowing (Sklad et al., 1994).
However, no performance data were collected in
the current study to corroborate this relationship.
Comparing the current research results with
previous studies conducted on youth paddlers,
similar patterns can be observed, as canoeists
presented slightly lower BMI values than
kayakers, reaching values below 22 kg · m-2
(Alacid et al., 2011; Cuesta et al., 1991).
Nonetheless, the importance of compact and
robust somatotypes for the most successful sprint
paddlers has been strongly supported, as
mentioned above, and should be taken into
consideration as a factor for talent identification.
Table 1
Mean values (± SD) and 95% confidence intervals for the means of the
anthropometric variables and maturity status in kayakers and canoeists
Kayak Canoe p
Effect
size
(Cohen's d)
Mean ± SD 95% CI Mean ± SD 95% CI
Age (years) 13.68 ± 0.55 13.56 - 13.80 13.69 ± 0.60 13.56 - 13.80 0.767 0.1
Body mass (kg) 59.79 ± 9.50 57.73 - 61.85 55.45 ± 12.17 52.72 - 58.17 0.008 0.4
Stretch Stature (cm) 168.59 ± 6.80 167.12 - 170.07 163.01 ± 9.76 160.82 - 165.19 < 0.001 0.6
Sitting Height (cm) 89.06 ± 4.27 88.14 - 89.99 86.09 ± 5.45 84.87 - 87.31 < 0.001 0.6
BMI (kg · m-2) 20.94 ± 2.37 20.43 - 21.46 20.64 ± 2.93 19.98 - 21.29 0.125 0.1
Sum of 6 skinfolds 64.31 ± 24.80 58.93 - 69.70 64.77 ± 34.43 57.06 - 72.48 0.150 0.1
Fat mass percentage
(%) 15.88 ± 5.66 14.72 – 17.03 15.58 ± 7.67 14.06 – 17.30 0.150 0.1
Maturity (years
from/to APHV)
0.48 ± 0.76
0.32 - 0.65
0.10 ± 0.91
-0.11 - 0.30
0.003
0.5
APHV: Age at Peak Height Velocity; BMI: Body Mass Index
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Table 2
Mean values (± SD) and 95% confidence intervals for the means of the physical fitness
variables in kayakers and canoeists
Kayak Canoe p Effect size
(Cohen's d)
Mean ± SD 95% CI Mean ± SD 95% CI
OMBT (m) 6.09 ± 1.31 5.81 - 3.38 5.56 ± 1.21 5.29 - 5.83 0.009 0.4
CMJ (m) 0.36 ± 0.07 0.34 - 0.37 0.34 ± 0.07 0.32 - 0.35 0.035 0.3
SR (cm) 8.49 ± 6.17 7.15 - 9.83 3.47 ± 7.77 1.73 - 5.21 < 0.001 0.7
VO2max
(ml · kg-1 · min-1)
50.43 ± 4.73
49.41 - 51.46
47.88 ± 4.84
46.80 - 48.97
0.049
0.5
CMJ: Counter Movement Jump; OMBT: Overhead Medicine Ball Throw; SR: Sit and
Reach
The level of adiposity plays an important
role in the total paddler-boat weight since it
directly affects the boat submerged area and
increases friction drag which may cause decreases
in boat’s speed (Alacid et al., 2011; Jackson, 1995).
In the current study, young kayakers presented
no significant differences in the percentage of fat
mass and the sum of 6 skinfolds compared to
canoeists. Unfortunately, not many comparisons
between both disciplines have been conducted in
the literature, focusing instead on gender
differences and the paddling level (Fry and
Morton, 1991; Sidney and Shephard, 1973).
Previous studies of youth kayakers reported
lower adiposity values to those described here,
ranging from 6 to 13% (Arlettaz et al., 2004;
Cuesta et al., 1991; Gobbo et al., 2002; Sidney and
Shephard, 1973). When observing elite adult
paddlers, greater adiposity (14.1%) and sum of 6
skinfolds were identified by van Someren and
Palmer (2003) among the most successful
paddlers. Conversely, Fry and Morton (1991)
detected that the greater fat mass, the poorer the
race time achieved in 1,000 m and 500 m events,
and also found a negative relationship between
body fat and performance as race distance
increased. There is evidence to suggest that the
age and the nature of the event are determinants
in adiposity levels, since older and shorter event
paddlers presented larger fat mass values (Fry
and Morton, 1991; Sidney and Shephard, 1973;
van Someren and Palmer, 2003). From the several
equations for estimating the fat mass percentage,
the formula described by Slaughter et al. (1988)
was selected, since it was considered the most
accurate in measuring the youth population
(Mendez-Villanueva et al., 2011). However, any
kind of comparison between studies must be
treated with caution due to the different methods
for estimating the percentage of fat mass. In other
water sports such as swimming, the fat mass
values of youth athletes seem to be lower (Laett et
al., 2010). Perhaps this fact and the evidence of
large body mass and BMI variations observed
between elite paddlers (Ackland et al., 2003)
might indicate that the morphological
characteristics of the athletes are not as much of a
determinant of performance as in other sports,
where the body has to perform movements in
direct contact with the particular physical
environment of the sport discipline.
An analysis of maturation is especially
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important in individual sports where the physical
level is paramount in the attainment of optimal
performance (Vaeyens et al., 2008). Relatively few
studies into maturation suggest a development of
superior physical attributes in the most
biologically mature athletes at the same
chronological age (Mendez-Villanueva et al., 2011;
Mirwald et al., 2002; Vaeyens et al., 2008).
Following Alacid et al. (2015), the biological
maturation observed in the current research in
kayakers was significantly higher than in
canoeists, even more than it could be expected
from the height and body mass variables.
According to previous research conducted by
Alacid et al. (2015), the superior biological
maturation observed in kayakers compared to
canoeists might be expected from the differences
in body height and mass variables identified
between disciplines.
Traditionally, all beginners start by
learning the fundamentals of paddling in a kayak,
and only later decide to either move to canoeing
or remain and excel in the kayak. The decision to
move to canoeing in youth paddlers is apparently
influenced by maturity, since to achieve optimal
performance in kayaking demands an early
strong physical development, while canoeing
involves more technical ability (Alacid et al.,
2015). Therefore, it seems reasonable that athlete
selection programs should take into account not
only the performance level, but its relationship
with maturation in order to ensure a complete
picture of the paddlers’ potential, and so as not to
make premature decisions on athlete selection at
young ages (Mirwald et al., 2002; Vaeyens et al.,
2008; Welsman and Armstrong, 2000).
The importance of the fitness level has
been demonstrated not only when describing the
athletes’ physical fitness profile, but also when
identifying potential successful athletes for certain
sports (Gabbett and Georgieff, 2007; Leone et al.,
2002). This is the first study which analyses the
fitness level of youth elite paddlers using a
battery of field based tests, and which
demonstrates the significantly superior level of
physical fitness in the kayakers within all the
tested variables. The OMBT and CMJ tests were
used in accordance with previous studies as the
better predictor of limb power (Gabbett and
Georgieff, 2007; Temfemo et al., 2009). In fact,
there was some evidence to suggest a meaningful
correlation between the power production of the
lower and upper limbs when performing
explosive movements, as this depends on neural
coordination and postural control (Debanne and
Laffaye, 2011; Mayhew et al., 2005). Additionally,
other factors associated with anthropometry and
maturation may explain the better performance
exhibited by the kayakers regarding the arm span,
leg length and lean mass (Cronin and Hansen,
2005; Temfemo et al., 2009).
Hamstring flexibility is an important
factor in the fitness level and the prevention of
spinal injuries, and especially in kayaking where
systematic trunk rotation along with lumbar
flexion occur (López-Miñarro et al., 2008). The
hamstring extensibility values obtained in the
present study are similar to the findings observed
in previous studies conducted on young paddlers,
with slightly lower SR values not exceeding 6 cm
for kayakers and 3 cm for canoeists (Lopez-
Miñarro et al., 2008, 2013). The expected greater
flexibility revealed in the kayakers might be
determined by the great lumbar flexion used
during the paddling action (López-Miñarro and
Alacid, 2010), which is very different than the one
used in canoeing. The SR test is an appropriate
mean of determining spine flexibility and range of
motion in the pelvic tilt, whereas its validity as a
measure of hamstring flexibility has been
reported as moderate (Muyor et al., 2014). While
hamstring extensibility in kayakers exhibits no
significant differences between legs, the kneeling
position necessary in canoeing appears to be
responsible for the greater values observed in the
forward leg as opposed to the kneeling leg
(Lopez-Miñarro et al., 2008, 2013). For these
reasons the straight leg raise or knee extension
tests are more appropriate. However, the sit-and-
reach test was used as a measure of hamstring
flexibility because it represents an agile field test
for large group assessments, and can be easily
used by coaches (Simoneau, 1998). Thus, it seems
desirable that stretching is included in training
programmes (López-Miñarro and Alacid, 2010).
Maximum oxygen uptake has been the
main physiological variable studied in the kayak
literature due to its relationship with race times
(Pendergast et al., 1979; Shephard, 1987; Tesch et
al., 1976). However, in youth athletes it seems that
VO2max values and performance in a given sport
are not significantly related (Bar-Or, 1987).
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188 Differences in Anthropometry, Biological Age and Physical Fitness Between Elite Kayakers and Canoeists
Journal of Human Kinetics - volume 57/2017 http://www.johk.pl
Unsurprisingly, the kayakers exhibited
significantly larger estimated VO2max values that
confirm their greater aerobic capacity. Expressing
VO2max relative to body mass has also revealed
superior aerobic endurance of the kayakers
regardless of their size and higher maturity levels.
Previous research had indicated significantly
higher VO2max levels than those observed here in
both ergometer and treadmill tests, reporting
values not lower than 54 ml • kg-1 • min-1 in
either case (Fry and Morton, 1991; Shephard, 1987;
Sidney and Shephard, 1973). However, any kind
of comparison between studies must be carefully
regarded due to the different protocols applied to
estimate oxygen uptake.
Conclusions
The current investigation demonstrated
the kayaker’s superior size and body mass that
indicates more robust and compact morphology
when compared to canoeists. Similarly, analysis of
the fitness tests revealed a significantly greater
fitness level in the youth kayakers compared to
youth canoeists, which is perhaps a consequence
of the lower maturity status of the latter. These
findings confirm the hypothesis that the
differences between kayakers and canoeists may
be related to the different requirements of each
sport discipline and biological status.
Nevertheless, further research should be carried
out in order to confirm these findings and
investigate their relationship with on-water
performance.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge the collaboration of all coaches and athletes who volunteered to
participate in this research paper, and their willingness to help in the course of the testing sessions. We
would also like to thank the Royal Spanish Canoeing Federation for its cooperation and support during the
process.
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Corresponding author:
Daniel López-Plaza, MSc
UCAM, Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia
Campus de los Jerónimos s/n.
30107 Guadalupe, Murcia. Spain.
Phone: +34 968 278 824
E-mail: dlopez4@alu.ucam.edu
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... However, despite the clear influence that the differences in maturation may have on the physical conditions and kinanthropometric characteristics of young athletes, there is some discrepancy on the specific weight of these variables for explaining the differences in performance depending on maturation [38][39][40][41]. Furthermore, a great heterogeneity has been found between studies in terms of participants, sports analyzed, and tests included [9,[32][33][34]42]. Therefore, the objective of this study is to analyze the relationship of biological maturation, physical fitness, and kinanthropometric variables of athletes in the growing period, according to their sex. ...
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