Evaluation of performance and the influence of maturation during a self-regulated repeated sprint task in elite youth soccer players

Callum Brownstein, Neil V. Gibson, Derek Ball

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Recent studies have used a self-paced, teleoanticipatory approach as a means of individualising and optimising repeated sprint training (e.g. Glaisteret al., 2010, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24, 3296–3301). These investigations have found that following familiarisation, participants can accurately self-govern inter-interval recovery periods to maintain performance during repeated-sprint exercise. However, these studies have only been conducted on adults, with no similar evidence in young athletes. Therefore, the primary aim of this investigation was to assess performance during a repeated sprint task with self-guided recovery in elite youth footballers. A secondary aim was to assess whether participants at different stages of maturation displayed differences in selected performance and recovery variables during the repeated sprint task. With institutional ethics approval ,twenty-eight elite youth soccer players (mean age = 13 ± 0.9 years; stature = 1.62 ± 1.08 m; body mass = 50.2 ± 12.7 kg) (mean ± SD) were familiarised with the study protocol, before being measured for stage of growth in relation to peak height–velocity, and split into a “less” and “more” mature group using a median split. Participants then completed 10 × 30 m repeated sprint trials under three conditions: using a standardised recovery period of 30 s between sprints, using self-selected recovery periods facilitated by the use of a perceived readiness scale (PR) taken from an earlier study (Edwards et al., 2011, Psychophysiology, 48, 136–141), and using self-selected recovery periods with no external cue (NEC). Percentage sprint decrement was significantly higher in the NEC (P < 0.01) and PR trials (P < 0.05) in comparison with the standardised recovery trial, as was sprint mean (P < 0.05 forboth). The average recovery durations taken during the PR and NEC trials were significantly shorter than the 30 s provided during the standardised recovery trial (P < 0.001 for both). Between-group comparisons showed no significant differences between the less and more mature group for all performance and recovery variables. The results of the study suggest adolescents underestimate the amount of recovery time needed between bouts of activity during repeated sprint exercise with self selected recovery periods. Therefore, repeated-sprint training with self-selected recovery periods may not be an effective training tool for practical implementation in elite youth soccer players when maintenance of work is desired.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationJournal of sport sciences
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


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