Soccer-Specific Reactive Repeated-Sprint Ability in Elite Youth Soccer Players: Maturation Trends and Association with Various Physical Performance Tests

Repeated-sprint ability is an important physical prerequisite for competitive soccer and deviates for players in various stages of growth and development. Thus, this study investigated reactive repeated-sprint ability in elite youth soccer players in relation to maturation (age at peak height velocity) and its association with performance of other physical tests. Elite male youth players from an English Premier League academy (U12, n = 8; U13, n = 11; U14, n = 15; U15, n = 6; U16, n = 10; U18, n = 13) completed the Reactive Repeated-Sprint Test (RRST; 8 × 30-m sprints with 30-s active recovery), and other physical tests including the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 2 (Yo-Yo IR2), Arrowhead Agility Test, Counter Movement Jump Test with Arms (CMJA), in addition to 10-m and 20-m straight-line sprints. RRST performance (total time across eight sprints) progressively improved from U12 to U16 (P 0.05; ES: <0.3). Correlation magnitudes between performance on the RRST and other tests were trivial to moderate for the Yo-Yo IR2 (r=-0.15-0.42), moderate to very large for the Arrowhead agility test (r=0.48-0.90), moderate to large for CMJA (r=-0.43-0.66) and trivial to large for 10- and 20-m sprints (r=0.05-0.61). The RRST was sensitive at tracking maturation trends in elite youth players, although performance improvements were not as marked from 15-16 years of age. RRST performance correlates with several physical qualities decisive for competitive soccer (agility, speed, power and aerobic endurance).
Corresponding author: Dr Paul S Bradley, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, UK, E-mail: paulbradley94@yahoo.co.uk
Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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