The design and development of sports equipment for children
thesisposted on 25.07.2013, 13:23 by Katharine Stanbridge
Children's access to many sports is restricted because of social and equipment costs, in addition the equipment is not frequently designed to suit a child's physique and capabilities. Generally the design of sports equipment for children proceeds by taking adult equipment and scaling it down. Unfortunately this often means that the range of equipment is limited for a population whose dimensions are constantly changing and whose strength to size ratio does not vary linearly (Beak et al. 2000). The use of inappropriate equipment can significantly affect learning skills and cause the development of bad habits which may take years to correct and can be a major detractor to further participation (Sleap 1981 ). It is apparent that little science has been applied to equipment design for children and if wider participation is to be encouraged then well-designed and manufactured equipment that matches child development and growth rates needs to be produced. The intentions of this study were: • To determine the effect of equipment properties on children's, aged between 7 and I 0 years old, ability to generate effective strokes in two example sports: golf and tennis. • To determine whether any relationships existed between children's physical characteristics (e.g. height, strength etc ), equipment properties and performance. • To apply any fitting guidelines established to a group of subject to test their validity. In each sport 3 major equipment properties were examined and a sample of30 children, aged between 7 and I 0 years old of varying ability, were tested in each of the studies. Sixteen anthropometric measures, age, experience and grip strength were taken from each child. This information was examined with the performance data using multiple regression methods to determine whether any fitting relationships existed between child characteristics, performance and club or racket properties. In golf it was found that the club head mass, shaft flexibility and shaft length all significantly affected the distance achieved with 7 -iron clubs, whilst in tennis the racket length, mass and balance all had a significant effect on the power and placement of forehand tennis strokes. Nomograms were constructed for the tennis and golf fitting equations to provide a graphical representation of the fitting so that manufacturers, tennis coaches, club fitters and professional golfers can quickly determine correct club or racket characteristics for a child. The main conclusion of this study is that children should be considered as individuals instead ofbeing grouped into age or height categories. Children should be fitted to equipment in terms of their size, strength and ability if effective equipment that is more suited to their needs can be constructed.
- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering