Age-related differences in repeated-sprint ability in highly trained youth football players

Por Iñigo Mujika , el 16 diciembre 2009

Mujika I, Spencer M, Santisteban J, Goiriena JJ, Bishop D

Journal of Sports Sciences. 2009 Dec; 27(14):1581-90.

In this study, we investigated the age-related differences in repeated-sprint ability and blood lactate responses in 134 youth football players. Players from the development programme of a professional club were grouped according to their respective under-age team (U-11 to U-18). Following familiarization, the participants performed a repeated-sprint ability test [6 x 30-m sprints 30 s apart, with active recovery (2.0-2.2 m . s(-1)) between sprints].

The test variables were total time, percent sprint decrement, and post-test peak lactate concentration. Total time improved from the U-11 to U-15 age groups (range 33.15 +/- 1.84 vs. 27.25 +/- 0.82 s), whereas no further significant improvements were evident from U-15 to U-18. No significant differences in percent sprint decrement were reported among groups (range 4.0 +/- 1.0% to 5.5 +/- 2.1%). Post-test peak lactate increased from one age group to the next (range 7.3 +/- 1.8 to 12.6 +/- 1.6 mmol . l(-1)), but remained constant when adjusted for age-related difference in body mass. Peak lactate concentration was moderately correlated with sprint time (r = 0.70, P > 0.001).

Our results suggest that performance in repeated-sprint ability improves during maturation of highly trained youth football players, although a plateau occurs from 15 years of age. In contrast to expectations based on previous suggestions, percent sprint decrement during repeated sprints did not deteriorate with age.

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