Table of Contents:


Although the essence of climbing relates to outdoors, sport climbing becomes increasingly popular and is performed in climbing gym (i.e., artificial climbing wall), where root setters can design very different climbing problems to provide a rich landscape of affordances that would enable transfer of acquired skills to outside. In order to assess the effect of route design on performance, several ecophysical variables could be measured such as the ratio between the motion time and the stationary time (Orth, Kerr, Davids, & Seifert, 2017; Orth, Davids, Chow, & Brymer, & Seifert, 2018a; Seifert et al., 2018), and more recently Seifert, Hacques, Rivet, and Legreneur (2020) presented a new device (Luxov® Touch, Luxov, Arnas, France, to assess the contact time on each hold, in order to investigate the hold-by-hold fluency. The contact time is an ecophysical variable that allows locating which hold involves longer time spent stationary, which often reflects the ‘crux’ point (i.e., most difficult section of the route). It gives information to root setters and practitioners to understand how the route design influences the climbing fluency. The lack of fluency could also be investigated by spatial indicators such as the geometric index of entropy that reflects the complexity of the climbing path (Figure 3.1) (Orth, Davids, & Seifert, 2018b; Sibella, Frosio, Schena, & Borghese, 2007; Watts, Espana-Romero, Ostrowski, & Jensen, 2020) or by the smoothness of the body displacement (jerk movement that corresponds to the derivation of acceleration; Seifert, Orth et al., 2014).

Lastly, Seifert, Boulanger, Orth, and Davids (2015), and Orth and colleagues (2018b) examined how an ecophysical variable that captures the body

Instrumented holds Luxov* Touch system

FIGURE 3.1 Instrumented holds Luxov* Touch system.

roll relative to the wall can explain the variation in climbing fluency. For this purpose, the route setter designed three different routes by manipulating the hold orientation and the number of available edges for grasping. A horizontal- edge route was designed to allow horizontal hold grasping when the trunk face to the wall was observed. A vertical-edge route was designed to allow vertical hold grasping, where the more challenging trunk side to the wall usually emerges in experienced climbers. Finally, a double-edge route was designed to invite both horizontal and vertical hold grasping. As a route with only vertical- edge holds was very challenging for novice climbers, the double-edge route would allow safe and functional exploration, as climbers could both exploit their stable patterns (i.e., horizontal hold grasping pattern and trunk face to the wall) associated to fluent motion and explore new behaviours (i.e., vertical hold grasping and trunk side to the wall) often associated with less fluent motion (Seifert et al., 2015).


This chapter explained the representativeness of combining accurate and reliable time-motion kinematical analysis to provide a more comprehensive ecological dynamic understanding of the athletic performance. Then, it discussed design methodologies for data collection, defining the task, the procedures, and relevant technology according to the type of sport (individual and collective).

It highlighted devices and variables that describe sports performance by centring its discussion on low-level kinematic performance indicators and related physiological insights. It also examined the combination of these direct performance indicators into compound metrics and requested cautions to design task, to decide for the relevant technology, to set data collection, and to compute metrics. Following ecological dynamics theoretical framework, we presented ecophysical variables as a means to capture the relevant issues of sport performance, given that performance is defined at the level of performer-environment system. Decision often relates to a compromise between validity, accuracy, reliability, and (i) temporal constraints to set, to collect, to analyse, and to provide feedback to practitioners, and (ii) nature of the task and of the environment in which this task is performed, questioning design representativeness.


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