Parkour is a discipline in which practitioners (traceurs) traverse their environment using a variety of movements including, but not limited to, running, jumping, swinging, climbing, and vaulting. Detailed descriptions of parkour can differ between individual traceurs and organisations, with parkour described in numerous summaries across sports science, sociological, psychological, and performing arts literature (O’Grady, 2012). The difficulty in identifying a singular definition of parkour arises from its rapid and decentralised expansion via internet forums, video-sharing platforms, and social media that continues to the present day (Puddle, Wheaton and Thorpe, 2018). This non-prescriptive, open-ended nature has been embraced by the parkour community, with some questioning the ongoing attempts to establish governing bodies amid increasing sportisation (Wheaton and O’Loughlin, 2017) while seeking to ensure a “freedom of diverse practice” (Parkour Earth, 2020).
However, this open-ended nature presents a challenge for researchers wishing to study the biomechanics of parkour. As Winter (2009, p. 2) outlines, “any quantitative assessment of human movement must be preceded by a measurement and description phase”, but parkour’s diverse practice often does not provide easily identifiable definitions or outcome measures for a given movement. This can make it difficult to identify a dependent variable of a parkour movement for study in a research environment or qualitative assessment in a coaching context. In the absence of objective technique definitions, this study instead proposes to sample the expertise of parkour coaches to develop an example deterministic model of a commonly performed parkour technique, the kong vault, that can inform future studies.