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Irineu Loturco, Lucas A. Pereira, Tomás T. Freitas, Chris Bishop, Fernando Pareja-Blanco, and Michael R. McGuigan

Purpose: To test the relationships between maximum and relative strength (MS and RS), absolute and relative peak force (PF and RPF), and strength deficit (SDef), with sprint and jump performance, and to compare these mechanical variables between elite sprinters and professional rugby union players. Methods: Thirty-five male rugby union players and 30 male sprinters performed vertical jumps, 30-m sprint, and half-squat 1-repetition maximum (1RM), where these force-related parameters were collected. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to test the relationships between the variables. An independent t test and magnitude-based inferences compared the mechanical variables between sprinters and rugby players. Results: Almost certain significant differences were observed for jump and sprint performance between groups (P < .0001). The rugby union players demonstrated a likely significant higher MS (P = .03) but a very likely lower RS (P = .007) than the sprinters. No significant differences were observed for PF between them. The sprinters exhibited an almost certain significant higher RPF than the rugby players (P < .0001). Furthermore, the rugby players demonstrated almost certain to likely significant higher SDef from 40% to 70% 1RM (P < .05) compared with the sprinters. Overall, all strength-derived parameters were significantly related to functional performance. Conclusions: Elite sprinters present higher levels of RS and RPF, lower levels of SDef, and better sprint and jump performance than professional rugby players. Relative strength-derived values (RS and RPF) and SDef are significantly associated with speed–power measures and may be used as effective and practical indicators of athletic performance.

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Jorge Carlos-Vivas, Elena Marín-Cascales, Tomás T. Freitas, Jorge Perez-Gomez, and Pedro E. Alcaraz

Purpose: To describe the load–velocity relationship and the effects of increasing loads on spatiotemporal and derived kinetic variables of sprinting using weighted vests (WV) in soccer players and determining the load that maximizes power output. Methods: A total of 23 soccer players (age 20.8 [1.5] y) performed 10 maximal 30-m sprints wearing a WV with 5 different loads (0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, and 40% body mass [BM]). Sprint velocity and time were collected using a radar device and wireless photocells. Mechanical outputs were computed using a recently developed valid and reliable field method that estimates the step-averaged ground-reaction forces during overground sprint acceleration from anthropometric and spatiotemporal data. Raw velocity–time data were fitted by an exponential function and used to calculate the net horizontal ground-reaction forces and horizontal power output. Individual linear force–velocity relationships were then extrapolated to calculate the theoretical maximum horizontal force (F 0) and velocity and the ratio of force application (proportion of the total force production that is directed forward at sprint start). Results: Magnitude-based inferences showed an almost certain decrease in F 0 (effect size = 0.78–3.35), maximum power output (effect size = 0.78–3.81), and maximum ratio of force (effect size = 0.82–3.87) as the load increased. The greatest changes occurred with loads heavier than 20% BM, especially in ratio of force. In addition, the maximum power was achieved under unloaded conditions. Conclusions: Increasing load in WV sprinting affects spatiotemporal and kinetic variables. The greatest change in ratio of force happened with loads heavier than 20% BM. Thus, the authors recommend the use of loads ≤20% BM for WV sprinting.

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Jorge Carlos-Vivas, Jorge Perez-Gomez, Ola Eriksrud, Tomás T. Freitas, Elena Marín-Cascales, and Pedro E. Alcaraz

Purpose: To analyze and compare the effects of 4 different resisted sprint training (RST) modalities on youth soccer players’ performance after 8 weeks of training. Methods: Forty-eight youth soccer players were first randomly assigned to 4 groups and only then completed 8 weeks of RST: horizontal resisted sprint, vertical resisted sprint (VRS), combined resisted sprint, and unresisted sprint. Performance in horizontal and vertical jumps, sprint, and change of direction (COD) ability were assessed 1 week before and after the training intervention. Magnitude-based inference analysis was performed for calculating within-group pre–post differences. In addition, an analysis of covariance test was performed for between-group comparison, using the pretest values as covariates. After that, the analysis of covariance P values and the effect statistic were transformed to magnitude-based inference. Results: Within-group outcomes showed that all resisted training modalities experienced improvements in sprint (small to moderate) and COD (small to large) performance. Moreover, all groups, except unresisted sprint, enhanced the horizontal jump performance. However, only VRS improved on vertical jump. Between-group comparison outcomes revealed that only VRS improved the sprint time compared with horizontal resisted sprint (moderate) and COD performance compared with all groups (moderate to large). In addition, VRS enhanced the countermovement jump performance (small to large) compared with the other groups. Conclusions: Independent of the orientation of the resistance applied, RST is an effective training method for improving sprinting and COD performance. Nevertheless, VRS may promote greater improvements on sprint and COD ability and have a positive additional effect on countermovement jump performance and the reduction of COD deficit.

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Tomás T. Freitas, Lucas A. Pereira, Valter P. Reis, Victor Fernandes, Pedro E. Alcaraz, Paulo H.S.M. Azevedo, and Irineu Loturco

Purpose: To investigate the effects of a match-congested period on straight and curve sprint performance, change of direction (COD) speed and deficit, vertical jumping ability, and half-squat (HS) mean propulsive power (MPP) output in young soccer players. Methods: A total of 15 under-20 elite male soccer players participated in 14 matches over 8 weeks. The following assessments were performed before and after the congested fixture period: squat and countermovement jumps, 17-m linear sprint, curve sprint test for the “good” (CSGS) and “weak” (CSWS) sides, modified 17-m Zigzag test, and HS MPP. Magnitude-based inferences and a paired t test were used to analyze pre–post changes in the assessed variables. Results: Very likely (P < .05) decreases were noticed in 17-m sprint velocity (effect size [ES] [90% confidence limit; CL], −0.56 [−0.32 to −0.81]) and CSGS (ES [90% CL], −0.72 [−0.40 to 1.03]) after the 8-week period. A possible but nonsignificant impairment was revealed in CSWS (ES [90% CL], −0.18 [0.03 to −0.39]), and countermovement jump (ES [90% CL], −0.21 [−0.54 to 0.12]). Zigzag velocity (ES [90% CL], −2.90 [−2.45 to −3.36]) and COD deficit (ES [90% CL], 0.86 [0.52 to 1.20]) were almost certainly and significantly (P < .05) reduced and increased, respectively, after the match-congested period. An almost certain and significant (P < .05) reduction was found in HS MPP (ES [90% CL], −1.18 [−0.76 to −1.61]). Conclusions: Straight and curve sprint velocity, COD speed and deficit, and HS MPP were impaired after the match-congested period. Vertical jump height was possibly decreased. Seasonal phases comprising high volumes of soccer-specific training and competition seem to be detrimental to speed–power qualities in under-20 elite soccer players.