Master's degree in Sport Science and Physical Performance

Sport biomechanics

Course code
Name of lecturer
Paola Zamparo
Paola Zamparo
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1° semestre motorie dal Oct 1, 2020 al Jan 30, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

This course has a very simple goal: to enable students to identify 1- the most relevant biomechanical parameters for a given sport / movement and 2- the instruments (that can be used outdoors or in the laboratory) that can be utilized to quantify these parameters. The main aim of this course is to provide a “key” that can be utilized in different situations to reduce the gap between sport practice (mostly qualitative analysis) and scientific research (quantitative analysis).


Course Objectives

The course aims to provide cultural and operational instruments for the biomechanical analysis of selected sports activities. In particular, the mechanical and energetic determinants of "cyclic" sports such as walking, running, cycling, swimming and cross-country skiing will be analyzed. Part of the program will be carried out in the form of practical exercises of data analysis to enable the students to verify, from a practical point of view, the theoretical knowledge acquired and to familiarize with biomechanical calculations.


Basis of biomechanics. Basic principles of linear and angular kinematics and dynamics. Forward and inverse dynamics. Propulsive and resistive forces. The body center of mass. How to calculate mechanical work in human locomotion: single mass model, Segmental energy calculations, joint power method.
Energy cost and efficiency. Energy expenditure and energy cost. Internal and external work. Positive and negative work. Muscle efficiency, transmission efficiency and locomotion efficiency.
Walking and running. Step/stride phases, duty factor, ground reaction forces. Internal and external mechanical work. Positive work, negative work and apparent (locomotion) efficiency. Biomechanics of running on gradients and with applied loads. The transition between walking and running. The Froude number. Running in unsteady conditions: sprints and shuttles. Passive locomotory tools.
Cycling. Aerodynamic and rolling resistance. Normal and effective force applied to the pedals. The "man-bicycle" arrangement. The HPV (human-powered vehicles
Cross-country skiing and ice skating. Resistant forces and propulsive forces.
Swimming. The mechanical determinants of energy cost in aquatic locomotion. The static and dynamic position of the body in water. The hydrodynamic resistance (active and passive drag). The energy cascade: propelling and Froude efficiency. Fin swimming.
Boat locomotion. Mechanics and energetics of kayaking, rowing and pedal driven watercrafts.

Recommended readings

• Any Physics textbook
• La locomozione su terra, in acqua, in aria. P.E. di Prampero, Edi Ermes (Milano)
• Sport Biomechanics. A. Blazevich, A&C Black, London

Lecture notes will be provided after each lesson.

Office hours: by appointment or by e-mail:

Assessment Method: Written test with open questions and numerical calculations followed by an oral examination.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Anthony Blazevich Biomeccanica dello sport Calzetti e Mariucci 2017 978-88-6028-510-2
D. Halliday, R. Resnick, J. Walker Fondamenti di Fisica: Vol. I - Meccanica, Termologia; Vol. II - Elettrologia, Magnetismo, Ottica. (Edizione 5) Casa Editrice Ambrosiana 2001 8821405389
Legnani, Palmieri, Fassi Introduzione alla biomeccanica dello sport CittàStudi Edizioni 2018
di Prampero La locomozione umana su terra, in acqua, in aria Edi Ermes 2015

Assessment methods and criteria

Assessment Method: Written test with open questions and numerical calculations followed by an oral examination.

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