KIHU - Research Institute for Olympic Sports

High Performance Unit of Finnish Olympic Committee - Research and Development Program

Research areas

Contact information

  • KIHU - Research Institute for Olympic Sports
  • Rautpohjankatu 6
  • 40700 Jyväskylä
  • Finland
  • Tel: +358 20 781 1500
  • Fax: +358 20 781 1501
  • Business ID: 1574321-0

KIHU online

Science for Success III -kongressi 11.-12.10.2011 Jyväskylässä Kihulook SRD Oy Fast Motion


Sport Biomechanics


Discipline demo (video)
Tapani Keränen
  • Tapani Keränen
  • Researcher in Sport Biomechanics
  • tel: +35840 5434303

Biomechanics focuses on the study of body movement, or the motion caused by man in external objects such as sports equipment, utilizing the means of physics, primarily mechanics. The measured variables include e.g. the distances and directions of motion, velocities, accelerations, the forces behind motion, the mechanical work performed, and power. When we combine with this set-up the physiological variables related to energy consumption, we can assess the efficiency of motion. When applied to sports, the starting point of biomechanical research is often the analysis and development of specific sports techniques, as well as the efficiency and economy of training. The objectives of biomechanical research also include increasing the understanding of the injury mechanisms typical of a specific sport or the development of sports and training equipment.

KIHU's sport biomechanics concentrates primarily on the measurement and analysis of the techniques of specific sports. Competence in biomechanics is often part of a larger, multidisciplinary measuring set-up.

The objective of KIHU's activities in biomechanics is to


KIHU has at its disposal a wide range of devices for the measuring of speed, strength and trajectories, some of which have been produced through KIHU's own development activities. The motion analysis of video recordings has traditionally been a central part of the research institute's biomechanical competence. In a measuring situation, the sports performance is filmed with multiple video cameras from different directions. With the motion analysis software APAS, the individual images of video clips are used to store the athlete's pivot points on computer memory. Based on the calibration measurements made at the filming stage, numerous variables can be identified in the sports performance, indicating e.g. the athlete's trajectories, motion velocities, duration of the stages of motion, amplitudes of motion, and timing of limb movements.

KIHU has several real-time speed measuring systems. Infrared photocells have been used e.g. to measure run-up speed in jump athletics. The velocities and angles of release of flying objects can be measured with an infrared gate, consisting of multiple photocells, with the help of two infrared curtains. The system has been used e.g. in javelin competitions to determine the javelin's release velocity, angle of release, and angle of position; in testing sports equipment, such as ice hockey and floor ball sticks; and in measuring the elasticity and flying properties of baseballs. A photocell contact mat, built of a photocell curtain, is also used to measure stride contact and flight times during running. In measuring the speed of an athlete or sports equipment, we use Stalker sports radar, based on dobbler technology, and Laveg laser radar.

Strength measurements in KIHU focus, on one hand, on measuring the basic strength of large muscle groups in athletes using different dynamometers and, as regards strength-speed variables, on measuring take-off and contact strength with contact mats and a force platform. The force platform has been widely used to measure balance e.g. in shooting. We also use a nine-metre-long force platform placed in Hipposhalli. On the other hand, KIHU has for years developed its expertise by building transducers to measure force in sports equipment. Measurements have been performed with these transducers on e.g. canoe paddles, weapon triggers, logs, ski sticks and skis, gymnastics launch pads, and on such training load and testing devices as rowing ergometers, cycling ergometers, and various fitness equipment.

Further biomechanical measuring and training load applications used by KIHU include e.g. air pressure javelin gun and baseball gun to analyse the flight characteristics of the respective equipment, as well as the Noptel and Rika systems applied in the study of shooting. The wind tunnel developed by Helsinki University of Technology in Espoo has also been used by KIHU to study the aerodynamics of ski jumpers and the properties of their jump suits.


The most active customers of KIHU within sport biomechanics come from the areas of athletics, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined skiing, cross-country skiing, and shooting. Through research and development work we have created service products used to analyse athletes in training and competition situations. Our close cooperation with the Finnish Shooting Sport Federation has resulted in the building of a biomechanical test laboratory for shooting in KIHU. Biomechanical methods have also been applied to study motor skills and their learning.