The ability to repeatedly perform sprints has traditionally been viewed as a key performance measure in team sports, and the relationship between repeated-sprint ability (RSA) and performance has been explored extensively. However, when reviewing the repeated-sprint profile of team-sports match play it appears that the occurrence of repeated-sprint bouts is sparse, indicating that RSA is not as important to performance as commonly believed. Repeated sprints are, however, a potent and time-efficient training strategy, effective in developing acceleration, speed, explosive leg power, aerobic power, and high-intensity-running performance—all of which are crucial to team-sport performance. As such, we propose that repeated-sprint exercise in team sports should be viewed as an independent variable (eg, a means of developing fitness) as opposed to a dependent variable (eg, a means of assessing fitness/performance).
Jonathan M. Taylor, Tom W. Macpherson, Iain R. Spears and Matthew Weston
Jonathan M. Taylor, Tom W. Macpherson, Shaun J. McLaren, Iain Spears and Matthew Weston
To compare the effects of 2 repeated-sprint training programs on fitness in soccer.
Fifteen semiprofessional soccer players (age: 24 ± 4 y; body mass: 77 ± 8 kg) completed 6 repeated-sprint training sessions over a 2-week period. Players were assigned to a straight-line (STR) (n = 8; 3–4 sets of 7 × 30 m) or change of direction (CoD) (n = 7; 3–4 sets of 7 × 20-m) repeated-sprint training group. Performance measures included 5-, 10-, and 20-m sprints, countermovement jump, Illinois agility, and Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test level 1 (YYIRTL1) performance. Internal (heart rate) and external (global positioning system-derived measures) training loads were monitored throughout. Data were analyzed using magnitude-based inferences.
Internal and external loads were higher in the STR group than in the CoD group with large differences in maximum velocity (28.7%; ±90% confidence limits, 3.3%), moderate differences in mean heart rates (7.0%; ±1.4%) and PlayerLoad (17.6%; ±8.6%), and small differences in peak heart rates (3.0%; ±1.6%). Large improvements in 5-m (STR: 9.6%; ±7.0% and CoD: 9.4%; ±3.3%), 10-m (STR: 6.6%; ±4.6% and CoD: 6.7%; ±2.2%), and 20-m (STR: 3.6; ±4.0% and CoD: 4.0; ±1.7%) sprints were observed. Large and moderate improvements in YYIRTL1 performance were observed in the STR (24.0%; ±9.3%) and CoD (31.0%; ±7.5%), respectively. Between-groups differences in outcome measures were unclear.
Two weeks of repeated-sprint training stimulates improvements in acceleration, speed, and high-intensity running performance in soccer players. Despite STR inducing higher internal and external training loads, training adaptations were unclear between training modes, indicating a need for further research.