Acceleration is a significant feature of game-deciding situations in the various codes of football. However little is known about the acceleration characteristics of football players, the effects of acceleration training, or the effectiveness of different training modalities. This study examined the effects of resisted sprint (RS) training (weighted sled towing) on acceleration performance (0-15 m), leg power (countermovement jump [CMJ], 5-bound test [5BT], and 50-cm drop jump [50DJ]), gait (foot contact time, stride length, stride frequency, step length, and flight time), and joint (shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee) kinematics in men (N = 30) currently playing soccer, rugby union, or Australian football. Gait and kinematic measurements were derived from the first and second strides of an acceleration effort. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment conditions: (a) 8-week sprint training of two 1-h sessions[middle dot]wk-1 plus RS training (RS group, n = 10), (b) 8-week nonresisted sprint training program of two 1-h sessions[middle dot]wk-1 (NRS group, n = 10), or (c) control (n = 10). The results indicated that an 8-week RS training program (a) significantly improves acceleration and leg power (CMJ and 5BT) performance but is no more effective than an 8-week NRS training program, (b) significantly improves reactive strength (50DJ), and (c) has minimal impact on gait and upper- and lower-body kinematics during acceleration performance compared to an 8-week NRS training program. These findings suggest that RS training will not adversely affect acceleration kinematics and gait. Although apparently no more effective than NRS training, this training modality provides an overload stimulus to acceleration mechanics and recruitment of the hip and knee extensors, resulting in greater application of horizontal power.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association