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Does Resisted Sprint Training Improve the Sprint Performance of Field-Based Invasion Team Sport Players? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

Sports Medicine 2023 October 29
BACKGROUND: Developing the sprint performance of field-based invasion team sport (FITS) players is considered an essential training goal for FITS coaching practitioners, and thus numerous training methods are employed to elicit improvements. Although interest in resisted sprint training (RST) has grown considerably in recent times, there remains a lack of clarity around its utility in FITS, particularly regarding the use and effectiveness of heavier RST loads.

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this review were to (1) compare RST to unresisted sprinting, (2) examine if RST can improve sprint performance and (3) investigate if external load and the method of load prescription influence the impact of RST in FITS players.

METHODS: The systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted in compliance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The search strategy included terms for RST, RST modalities and FITS, and was applied to PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science and OpenGrey databases. Methodological quality and risk of bias associated with each study were assessed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale (PEDro) and Cochrane Risk of Bias assessment tool respectively.

RESULTS: Twenty-one studies met the inclusion criteria for this review and were included in the final analysis. The primary between-group analysis revealed no differences between RST and unresisted sprinting for developing the early acceleration, late acceleration and maximum velocity sprint phases. Secondly, a within-group analysis found significant improvements for resisted sprint training in the early acceleration (standardised mean difference [SMD] - 0.80) and late acceleration (SMD - 0.28) sprint phases, with no change detected for the maximum velocity phase. Finally, significant moderate improvements were found for light (SMD - 0.69) and very heavy (SMD - 1.01) loads during early acceleration.

CONCLUSIONS: Resisted sprint training achieved similar improvements in sprint performance to those found for unresisted sprinting during the acceleration and maximum velocity sprint phases. Within-group findings show RST is an effective method for improving early acceleration and late acceleration performance of FITS players. Finally, a subgroup analysis supports the use of light and very heavy loads for increasing early acceleration performance, while also highlighting greater benefits associated with using the percentage velocity decrement loading method.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: Open Science Framework, https://osf.io/thms7/ .

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