Meta-analysis techniques have the advantage of combining the results from multiple studies to increase power, resolve uncertainty when studies disagree, and improve the accuracy of findings. Rumpf and colleagues (2016) used this technique to analyze the effects of various training programs on sprint performance. Findings reveal important information for team and individual sport coaches and athletes. An abstract of this study is provided below.
Linear sprinting speed is an essential physical quality for many athletes. There are a number of different training modalities that can be used to improve sprint performance. Strength and conditioning coaches must select the most appropriate modalities for their athletes, taking into consideration the sprint distances that typically occur during competition. The study purpose was to perform a brief review as to the effect of specific (free sprinting; resisted sprinting by sleds, bands, or incline running; assisted sprinting with a towing device or a downhill slope), nonspecific (resistance and plyometric training), and combined (a combination of specific and nonspecific) training methods on different sprint distances (0–10, 0–20, 0–30, and 31+ m). A total of 48 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria, resulting in 1,485 subjects from a range of athletic backgrounds. The training effects associated with specific sprint training were classified as moderate (effect size [ES] = −1.00; %change = −3.23). Generally, the effect of specific sprint training tended to decrease with distance, although the largest training effects were observed for the 31+ m distance. The greatest training effects (ES = −0.43; %change = −1.65) of nonspecific training were observed for the 31+ m distance. The combined training revealed greatest effects (ES = −0.59; %change = −2.81) for the 0–10 m distance. After this review, specific sprint training methods seem the most beneficial over the investigated distances. However, the implementation of nonspecific training methods (e.g., strength and power training) could also benefit speed and athletic performance.
*Coaching Application: This analysis dealt primarily with the start and acceleration phase of a short sprint. Findings support the use of specific training (free sprinting: resisted and assisted), non-specific training (resistance and plyometrics), and a combination of each. Combined training was shown to be most effective for the 0-10 meter distance whereas non-specific training was more effective for distances in excess of 31 meters. Although specific training methods appeared to be more beneficial, the authors made it clear that nonspecific training (strength and power) also are important. This study did not examine the effects of each training program on ground reaction force (GRF) or rate of force development such as ground contact time (GCT) which remain as key aspects of all sprint training programs.
Rumph, Michael C., Lockie, Robert G.,Cronin, John B., Jalivand, Farzad. 2016. Effect of Different Sprint Training Methods on Sprint Performance Over Various Distances: A Brief Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol. 30, Number 6, June, 1767-1785.