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Martina A. Maggioni, Matteo Bonato, Alexander Stahn, Antonio La Torre, Luca Agnello, Gianluca Vernillo, Carlo Castagna and Giampiero Merati

properly with strong evidence-based support. Ball-drills and repeated sprint ability training have begun to be widely used by coaches to improve physical fitness. 7 Ball-drills training consists of a series of short duration matches with a small number of players and which replicate match-like technical

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Brian Dawson

Repeated-sprint ability (RSA) is now well accepted as an important fitness component in team-sport performance. It is broadly described as the ability to perform repeated short (~3–4 s, 20–30 m) sprints with only brief (~10–30 s) recovery between bouts. Over the past 25 y a plethora of RSA tests have been trialed and reported in the literature. These range from a single set of ~6–10 short sprints, departing every 20–30 s, to team-sport game simulations involving repeating cycles of walk-jog-stride-sprint movements over 45–90 min. Such a wide range of RSA tests has not assisted the synthesis of research findings in this area, and questions remain regarding the optimal methods of training to best improve RSA. In addition, how RSA test scores relate to player “work rate,” match performance, or both requires further investigation to improve the application of RSA testing and training to elite team-sport athletes.

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Achraf Ammar, Stephen J. Bailey, Omar Hammouda, Khaled Trabelsi, Nabil Merzigui, Kais El Abed, Tarak Driss, Anita Hökelmann, Fatma Ayadi, Hamdi Chtourou, Adnen Gharbi and Mouna Turki

surface on repeated sprint ability (RSA) is equivocal. 13 , 14 , Playing surface has been shown to influence some variables, such as peak and average speed, 15 playing style, 10 and change of direction ability, 11 , 12 , 14 , with players also exhibiting better technical skills (eg, fewer sliding

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Matt Spencer, David Pyne, Juanma Santisteban and Iñigo Mujika

Variations in rates of growth and development in young football players can influence relationships among various fitness qualities.

Purpose:

To investigate the relationships between repeated-sprint ability and other fundamental fitness qualities of acceleration, agility, explosive leg power, and aerobic conditioning through the age groups of U1 1 to U18 in highly trained junior football players.

Methods:

Male players (n = 119) across the age groups completed a fitness assessment battery over two testing sessions. The first session consisted of countermovement jumps without and with arm swing, 15-m sprint run, 15-m agility run, and the 20-m Shuttle Run (U11 to U15) or the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, Level 1 (U16 to U18). The players were tested for repeated-sprint ability in the second testing session using a protocol of 6 × 30-m sprints on 30 s with an active recovery.

Results:

The correlations of repeated-sprint ability with the assorted fitness tests varied considerably between the age groups, especially for agility (r = .02 to .92) and explosive leg power (r = .04 to .84). Correlations of repeated sprint ability with acceleration (r = .48 to .93) and aerobic conditioning (r = .28 to .68) were less variable with age.

Conclusion:

Repeated-sprint ability associates differently with other fundamental fitness tests throughout the teenage years in highly trained football players, although stabilization of these relationships occurs by the age of 18 y. Coaches in junior football should prescribe physical training accounting for variations in short-term disruptions or impairment of physical performance during this developmental period.

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Jonathan L. Oliver, Craig A. Williams and Neil Armstrong

The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability of a field and a laboratory test of repeated sprint ability (RSA). Twelve adolescent boys (15.3 ± 0.3 years) completed five trials of both a field RSA test (7 × 30 m sprints) and a laboratory RSA test (7 × 5 s sprints) performed on a nonmotorized treadmill. Mean coefficients of variation (CV) calculated across all trials were < 2.7% for field sprint times, and, in the laboratory, < 2.9% for velocity and < 8.4% for power output. Fatigue indices (FI) calculated from data in both environments exhibited mean CVs > 23%. The inconsistency in the FIs resulted from the mathematical procedures used in the FI calculation methods. Based on the reliability scores, it was concluded that results obtained from measured performance variables in the field and laboratory, and not calculated FIs, should be used to report RSA.

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François Billaut and Kurt Smith

The ability to repeatedly generate maximum power output is usually accompanied by neuromuscular adjustments.

Purpose:

This study aimed to explore the occurrence of arterial O2 desaturation during prolonged repeated-sprint ability (RSA) testing and its relationship to neuromuscular activity, as evidenced by changes in surface integrated electromyogram (iEMG).

Methods:

Fifteen, national-level soccer players performed twenty 5-s cycle sprints (25 s of rest). Mechanical work and surface iEMG of the vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) of the dominant lower limb were recorded for every sprint. Arterial O2 saturation (S O2) was estimated via pulse oximetry and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) recorded immediately after every sprint.

Results:

Over the sprints, mechanical work (23.5%), iEMG (VL: 14.2%, RF: 16.4%) and S O2 (3.5%) decreased, and RPE progressed to 19 (all P < .05). There was a strong linear relationship (R2 = .83, P < .05) between the changes in mechanical output and iEMG during the sprints. More importantly, changes in S O2 accompanied changes in mechanical work, iEMG and RPE (R2 = .68, R2 = .64, R2 = .62, P < .05, respectively).

Conclusion:

The study suggests that in a homogenous group of athletes a progressive arterial O2 desaturation develops during a prolonged RSA test, which may contribute toward performance regulation via an effect on sense of effort and neuromuscular activity.

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Jon L. Oliver, Neil Armstrong and Craig A. Williams

Purpose:

The purpose of the study was to assess the reliability and validity of a newly developed laboratory protocol to measure prolonged repeated-sprint ability (RSA) during soccer-specific exercise.

Methods:

To assess reliability, 12 youth soccer players age 15.2 ± 0.3 y performed 2 trials of a soccer-specific intermittent-exercise test (SSIET) separated by 3 months. The test was performed on a nonmotorized treadmill. A separate sample of 12 youth soccer players (15.2 ± 0.3 y) completed the SSIET while simultaneously HR, VO2, and blood lactate (BLa) were monitored. The SSIET was designed to replicate the demands of competing in one half of a soccer match while sprint performance was monitored. The test included a 5-s sprint every 2 min.

Results:

The mean coefficient of variation was 2.5% for the total distance covered during the SSIET and 3.8% for the total distance sprinted; measures of power output were less reliable (>5.9%). Participants covered 4851 ± 251 m during the SSIET, working at an average intensity of 87.5% ± 3.2% HRpeak and 70.2% ± 3.1% VO2peak, with ~7mmol/L BLa accumulation. A significant reduction (P < .05) in sprint performance was ob served over the course of the SSIET.

Conclusion:

The SSIET provided a reliable method of assessing prolonged RSA in the laboratory. The distance covered and the physiological responses during the SSIET successfully recreated the demands of competing in a soccer match.

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Peter Le Rossignol, Tim J. Gabbett, Dan Comerford and Warren R. Stanton

Purpose:

To investigate the relationship between selected physical capacities and repeated-sprint performance of Australian Football League (AFL) players and to determine which physical capacities contributed to being selected for the first competition game.

Methods:

Sum of skinfolds, 40-m sprint (with 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-m splits), repeated-sprint ability (6 × 30-m sprints), and 3-km-run time were measured during the preseason in 20 AFL players. The physical qualities of players selected to play the first match of the season and those not selected were compared. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to determine the relationship among variables, and a regression analysis identified variables significantly related to repeated-sprint performance.

Results:

In the regression analysis, maximum velocity was the best predictor of repeated-sprint time, with 3-km-run time also contributing significantly to the predictive model. Sum of skinfolds was significantly correlated with 10-m (r = .61, P < .01) and 30-m (r = .53, P < .05) sprint times. A 2.6% ± 2.1% difference in repeated-sprint time (P < .05, ES = 0.88 ± 0.72) was observed between those selected (25.26 ± 0.55 s) and not selected (25.82 ± 0.80 s) for the first game of the season.

Conclusions:

The findings indicate that maximum-velocity training using intervals of 30–40 m may contribute more to improving repeated-sprint performance in AFL players than short 10- to 20-m intervals from standing starts. Further research is warranted to establish the relative importance of endurance training for improving repeated-sprint performance in AFL football.

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Gabriel Machado Claus, Paulo Eduardo Redkva, Gabriel Mota Pinheiro Brisola, Elvis Sousa Malta, Rodrigo de Araujo Bonetti de Poli, Willian Eiji Miyagi and Alessandro Moura Zagatto

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of beta–alanine supplementation on specific tests for water polo. Fifteen young water polo players (16 ± 2 years) underwent a 200-m swimming performance, repeated-sprint ability test (RSA) with free throw (shooting), and 30-s maximal tethered eggbeater kicks. Participants were randomly allocated into two groups (placebo × beta-alanine) and supplemented with 6.4g∙day-1of beta-alanine or a placebo for six weeks. The mean and total RSA times, the magnitude based inference analysis showed a likely beneficial effect for beta-alanine supplementation (both). The ball velocity measured in the throwing performance after each sprint in the RSA presented a very like beneficial inference in the beta-alanine group for mean (96.4%) and percentage decrement of ball velocity (92.5%, likely beneficial). Furthermore, the percentage change for mean ball velocity was different between groups (beta-alanine=+2.5% and placebo=-3.5%; p = .034). In the 30-s maximal tethered eggbeater kicks the placebo group presented decreased peak force, mean force, and fatigue index, while the beta-alanine group maintained performance in mean force (44.1%, possibly beneficial), only presenting decreases in peak force. The 200-m swimming performance showed a possibly beneficial effect (68.7%). Six weeks of beta-alanine supplementation was effective for improving ball velocity shooting in the RSA, maintaining performance in the 30-s test, and providing possibly beneficial effects in the 200-m swimming performance.

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Martin Buchheit, Alberto Mendez-Villanueva, Marc Quod, Thomas Quesnel and Said Ahmaidi

Purpose:

The aim of the current study was to compare the effects of speed/agility (S/A) training with sprint interval training (SIT) on acceleration and repeated sprint ability (RSA) in well-trained male handball players.

Methods:

In addition to their normal training program, players performed either S/A (n = 7) or SIT (n = 7) training for 4 wk. Speed/agility sessions consisted of 3 to 4 series of 4 to 6 exercises (eg, agility drills, standing start and very short sprints, all of <5 s duration); each repetition and series was interspersed with 30 s and 3 min of passive recovery, respectively. Sprint interval training consisted of 3 to 5 repetitions of 30-s all-out shuttle sprints over 40 m, interspersed with 2 min of passive recovery. Pre- and posttests included a countermovement jump (CMJ), 10-m sprint (10m), RSA test and a graded intermittent aerobic test (30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test, VIFT).

Results:

S/A training produced a very likely greater improvement in 10-m sprint (+4.6%, 90% CL 1.2 to 7.8), best (+2.7%, 90% CL 0.1 to 5.2) and mean (+2.2%, 90% CL –0.2 to 4.5) RSA times than SIT (all effect sizes [ES] greater than 0.79). In contrast, SIT resulted in an almost certain greater improvement in VIFT compared with S/A (+5.2%, 90% CL 3.5 to 6.9, with ES = –0.83).

Conclusion:

In well-trained handball players, 4 wk of SIT is likely to have a moderate impact on intermittent endurance capacity only, whereas S/A training is likely to improve acceleration and repeated sprint performance.