Sport Equipment Evaluation and Optimization – A Review of the Relationship between Sport Science Research and Engineering

G.B. Shan , * Open Modal Authors Info & Affiliations
The Open Sports Sciences Journal 30 Apr 2008 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1875399X00801010005


In current sport equipment evaluation and optimization, most studies consider the body and an equipment together as one system. This is partially because equipment optimization is mainly done through modification of mechanical designs, thus equipment evaluation is conducted through statistical comparisons of how different mechanical designs perform under human usage. However, it is known that any change in the performance environment would cause one to adapt certain aspects of his or her movements. Variation in equipment is considered as such a performance-altering environmental change. Yet, this equipment-induced motor control change is hardly studied in sport equipment evaluation/optimization, such as studies on golf clubs, pole-vaulting poles and hockey sticks. Without a thorough understanding of the interactions between equipment alteration and human motor control adaptation, equipment optimization is like a hit-and-miss game. Therefore this paper aims: 1) to look back at the different generations (eras) in the development of sports equipment, 2) to elaborate the roles of engineering and sport science/motion analysis technology in each generation and 3) to discuss the essence of sport science research in sport equipment optimization, which has evolved beyond pure engineering. One focus of this review is on body-equipment interactions and body movement adjustments in response to different equipment designs. Both these aspects should ideally be included in future studies related to sports equipments.

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