• Sprint Training For Women's College Soccer
    Learn about the role of acceleration and velocity in improving soccer performance. From the NSCA's Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Full-text article available to the public.
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  • soccerGirlSynopsis
    Maximum velocity is frequently associated with successful performance in field sports, however, during competition, athletes rarely cover the necessary distance to achieve top speeds. The ability to accelerate (defined as the rate of change in velocity) is more important to successful performance than maximum velocity. It is important to define the differences between acceleration and velocity. Acceleration can be defined as the rate of change in velocity as measured by sprint performance over a distance of 5 or 15 yards, where as velocity reflects the speed over a longer distance, typically 40 yards. The two most frequently used field methods of increasing acceleration and velocity are resisted sprint training (RST) and assisted sprint training (AST).

    Resisted sprint training includes gravity-resisted modalities, such as uphill or inclined sprinting, and modalities designed to create an overload effect such as a parachute, sled, harness, or weighted vest. Assisted sprint training, or supramaximal sprint training, includes gravity-assisted modalities, such as downhill sprinting, and external tools such as high-speed towing using a harness or stretch tubing and a parachute release while at a maximum speed.

    It was the goal of a research article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research to determine how RST, AST, and traditional sprint training affected maximal velocity and acceleration in NCAA Division IA female soccer athletes. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a 4-week, 12-session training program using RST or AST as compared to traditional sprint training on 5-yard and 15-yard acceleration and 40-yard maximal velocity. Each individual performed a 40-yard dash prior to the 4-week training program. During the 40-yard trials there were splits taken at 5 yards, 15 yards, and 25 yards. Based on their 5-yard sprint velocity the female soccer players were ranked fastest to slowest and then randomly matched, divided into one of three groups (RST, AST, and TST). The subjects then participated in a 12-session sprint training intervention based on their assigned group. There was no significant difference between sprint velocities between the three groups prior to the intervention period.

    The AST group participated in trials that provided a mean assistive force equal to 14.7% of each individual’s body mass. The AST group performed 20-yard sprints at supramaximal velocity with a 10-yard deceleration jog. The RST group participated in trails that provided a mean resistive force around 12.6% of each individual’s body mass. The RST group sprinted for 20 yards at maximal effort and then completed a 20-yard deceleration jog. The TST group performed 10 maximal effort sprints of 20 yards followed by deceleration jogs of 20 yards.

    The results of the study revealed that both the AST and RST groups significantly improved 40-yard dash times. The results also revealed that the AST group saw the greatest increase in velocity in the first 5 yards of the sprint and the RST group had the greatest increase in velocity during the 15 to 25-yard segment of the 40-yard sprint. The results of the study are not in complete agreement with previous studies on AST and RST. Other studies have found improvements in acceleration split times with RST, and these improvements were associated with the increase in muscle force development. Although a very short training period, the intervention protocol did enhance sprint times in both the AST and RST groups. It can be recommended that in order to improve sprint times practitioners should include AST and RST in training programs for female soccer players. However, the incorporation of this type of training needs to be specific to the needs of each athlete.

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  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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