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Effects of sprint duration and exercise: rest ratio on repeated sprint performance and physiological responses in professional soccer players

Little, Thomas and Williams, Alun G. (2007) Effects of sprint duration and exercise: rest ratio on repeated sprint performance and physiological responses in professional soccer players. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 21 (2). pp. 646-8. ISSN 1064-8011

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the physiological effects of different sprint repetition protocols on professional footballers. Of particular interest were the abilities of repeated sprint protocols to induce fatigue to an extent observed during competitive soccer. Six professional soccer players were assessed for fatigue rate and physiological responses of heart rate (HR), blood lactate (BLa), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during the performance of 4 repeated sprint drills, each totaling a sprint distance of 600 m. The 4 drills used 15- or 40-m sprints with 1:4 or 1:6 exercise: rest ratios. The 15-m sprint drill with 1:4 exercise:rest ratio induced the greatest fatigue (final sprint time 15% greater than initial sprint time) and greatest physiological responses. The 40-m sprint drill using a 1:4 exercise:rest ratio produced similar BLa and HR responses to the 15-m drill (13-14 mmol.L(-1) and 89% HRmax, respectively) but significantly lower RPE (mean +/- SD: 17.1 +/- 0.4 vs. 18.8 +/- 0.4, p < 0.05) and fatigue rates (11.1 vs. 15.0%, p < 0.01). Both sprint distance and exercise:rest ratio independently influenced fatigue rate, with the 15-m sprint distance and the 1:4 exercise:rest ratio inducing significantly (p < 0.01) greater fatigue than the 40-m sprint distance and the 1:6 exercise:rest ratio. The magnitude of fatigue during the 40- x 15-m sprint drill using a 1:6 exercise:rest ratio was 7.5%, which is close to the fatigue rate previously reported during actual soccer play. The present study is the first to examine both variations in sprint distances and rest ratios simultaneously, and the findings may aid the design of repeated sprint training for soccer.

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