I hope you haven't had an allergic reaction to the word "trigonometry".
If you did, take a few deep breaths into a paper bag and get a grip. What we're about to look even my lame brain can handle so I know you'll be fine.
Trigonometry is the study of triangles, their angles and how those angles can be used.
There is a optimal triangle in any sport that requires strength and power and this video, again a follow-on from my piece last week on Premature Acceleration, demonstrates what I'm talking about exquisitely.
In this case, we were looking at shin angle. Carl Lewis' shin made a steeper triangle to the ground than Ben Johnson's. If we were to take two people identical in every way (Lewis and Johnson weren't) and have them start to sprint, the one using the shallower shin triangle would start fastest.
Such angles are important far beyond sprinting. They apply in every sport!
The optimal triangle in a given movement is the one where given the fixed body dimensions of the athlete (bone sizes are often more fixed than soft tissues sizes) the force applied is creating the smallest possible triangle relative to the direction of intended movement.
In the case of the sprinters, they want to go forward so the shallowest possible angle is optimal as this means maximal forwards force and minimal upwards force.
In throwing sports, optimal release angles are often close to 45 degrees meaning equal force up and forwards. Things get more complex when we begin to consider multiple joints but the idea remains useful.
The fact of the matter is that if you haven't got your angles right (different from right angles (sometimes)), you are leaking speed and strength in whatever you do. That's a tragedy a former mathematical physicist like myself can't bear to see and that's why I do what I do here at Float Sting.
Get the performance out of yourself you are really angling for,
Arton "Trigo happy" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Injury Rehab and Performance, Harley Street, London W1