A brief resisted-sprint exercise significantly increases skating sprint speed in ice hockey players, reports a study in the November issue ofThe Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
"[T]he intensity and duration of a single resisted sprint in this study are sufficient to induce an acute (after 4-minutes' rest) improvement in 25-meter sprint performance on ice," the researchers conclude. The study was conducted by Martyn Matthews MSc, BSc (Hons), CSCS*D, Paul Comfort MSc, BSc (Hons), CSCS*D, and Robyn Crebin, BSc (Hons), GSR, of University of Salford, Manchester, U.K.
Ten-Second Resisted Sprint Makes 2.6 Percent Difference in Sprint Time The study evaluated the acute effects of a "heavy resisted sprint" exercise on athletes' performance on the 25-meter hockey sprint. The exercise was fairly simple: the players skated forward as hard as they could for 10 seconds, while tethered to another skater behind them, who provided resistance by pulling in the opposite direction.
After a four-minute rest, the players performed a timed 25-meter sprint. Their times were compared to a sprint performed after rest alone. The participants were 11 players in a high-level amateur English ice hockey league.
The average 25-meter sprint time was 3.950 before versus 3.859 seconds after the tethered resistance sprint. The difference was about 9/100 of a second, or a 2.6 percent reduction in sprint time.
Resisted ice sprints are an example of "complex training." The concept is that exercise performed against heavy resistance will lead to improved performance when the same exercise is performed with lighter resistance.
Complex training has proved particularly successful in improving jumping and sprinting performance. Given the highly specialized movements in ice hockey, traditional off-ice resistance exercises "may not be as functional as resisted activities on the ice," according to the authors.
A reduction in sprint time of less than one-tenth of second may not sound like much, but it could bring a big advantage for high-level competition. "Ice hockey is a sport where success is determined by the skating skills of the players, in particular the ability to accelerate, sprint, change direction, and stop quickly," Matthews and coauthors write.
The researchers note that the effect observed in their study is "broadly in line" with other studies of the effects of complex training. They conclude, "For those athletes wishing to improve skating speed, heavy resisted sprints on ice may provide a biomechanically suitable exercise for inducing potentiation before speed training drills."
Materials provided by Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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