J Biomech. 2017 Nov 7;64:219-225. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.09.030. Epub 2017 Oct 7.
Agility performance is often evaluated using time-based metrics, which provide little information about which factors aid or limit success. The objective of this study was to better understand agility strategy by identifying biomechanical metrics that were sensitive to performance speed, which were calculated with data from an array of body-worn inertial sensors. Five metrics were defined (normalized number of foot contacts, stride length variance, arm swing variance, mean normalized stride frequency, and number of body rotations) that corresponded to agility terms defined by experts working in athletic, clinical, and military environments. Eighteen participants donned 13 sensors to complete a reactive agility task, which involved navigating a set of cones in response to a vocal cue. Participants were grouped into fast, medium, and slow performance based on their completion time. Participants in the fast group had the smallest number of foot contacts (normalizing by height), highest stride length variance (normalizing by height), highest forearm angular velocity variance, and highest stride frequency (normalizing by height). The number of body rotations was not sensitive to speed and may have been determined by hand and foot dominance while completing the agility task. The results of this study have the potential to inform the development of a composite agility score constructed from the list of significant metrics. By quantifying the agility terms previously defined by expert evaluators through an agility score, this study can assist in strategy development for training and rehabilitation across athletic, clinical, and military domains.