Physiological, Perceptual and Performance Responses Associated With Self-Selected Versus Standardized Recovery Periods During a Repeated Sprint Protocol in Elite Youth Football Players: A Preliminary Study

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 Oriam: Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre
  • | 2 Heriot-Watt University
  • | 3 University of Chester
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To examine the physiological and perceptual responses of youth footballers to a repeated sprint protocol employing standardized and self-selected recovery.


Eleven male participants (13.7 ± 1.1 years) performed a repeated sprint assessment comprising 10 × 30 m efforts. Employing a randomized cross-over design, repeated sprints were performed using 30 s and self-selected recovery periods. Heart rate was monitored continuously with ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and lower body muscle power measured 2 min after the final sprint. The concentration of blood lactate was measured at 2, 5 and 7 min post sprinting. Magnitude of effects were reported using effect size (ES) statistics ± 90% confidence interval and percentage differences. Differences between trials were examined using paired student t tests (p < .05).


Self-selected recovery resulted in most likely shorter recovery times (57.7%; ES 1.55 ± 0.5; p < .01), a most likely increase in percentage decrement (65%; ES 0.36 ± 0.21; p = .12), very likely lower heart rate recovery (-58.9%; ES -1.10 ± 0.72; p = .05), and likely higher blood lactate concentration (p = .08–0.02). Differences in lower body power and RPE were unclear (p > .05).


Self-selected recovery periods compromise repeated sprint performance.

Gibson is with the Oriam: Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. Brownstein and Ball are with the School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. Twist is with the Dept. of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Chester, Chester, UK.

Address author correspondence to Neil Gibson at
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