As a soccer fitness coach, I want my players to be capable of sprinting fast, repeatedly and with minimal rest between efforts. This is the holy grail of soccer fitness. Before one can train the ability to do this, you need to first understand what limits an athletes ability to do it. In a recent review paper (Girard, Mendez-Villanueva, Bishop, 2011) the researchers looked at factors contributing to fatigue in repeat sprint ability. A brief synopsis of the review indicates that:
- Fatigue from repeat efforts is inversely correlated to initial sprint performance.
- Limitations in energy supply, which include energy available from phosphocreatine hydrolysis, anaerobic glycolysis and oxidative metabolism, and the intramuscular accumulation of metabolic by-products, such as hydrogen ions are key factors in performance decrement.
- Neural factors (magnitude and strategy of recruitment) are related to fatigue.
- Stiffness regulation, hypoglycemia, muscle damage and environmental conditions may also compromise repeat sprint ability.
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