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Effects of Resisted Sprint Training on Acceleration in Professional Rugby Union Players

West, Daniel J.1; Cunningham, Dan J.2; Bracken, Richard M.2; Bevan, Huw R.2; Crewther, Blair T.2,3; Cook, Christian J.2,3,4; Kilduff, Liam P.2

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 1014–1018
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182606cff
Original Research

West, DJ, Cunningham, DJ, Bracken, RM, Bevan, HR, Crewther, BT, Cook, CJ, and Kilduff, LP. Effects of resisted sprint training on acceleration in professional rugby union players. J Strength Cond Res 27(4): 1014–1018, 2013—The use of weighted sled towing as a training tool to improve athlete acceleration has received considerable attention; however, its effectiveness for developing acceleration is equivocal. This study compared the effects of combined weighted sled towing and sprint training against traditional sprint training on 10 and 30 m speed in professional rugby union players (n = 20). After baseline testing of 10 and 30 m speed, participants were assigned to either the combined sled towing and sprint training (SLED) or traditional sprint training (TRAD) groups, matched for 10-m sprint times. Each group completed 2 training sessions per week for 6 weeks, with performance reassessed post-training. Both training programmes improved participants' 10 and 30 m speed (p < 0.001), but the performance changes (from pre to post) in 10 m (SLED −0.04 ± 0.01 vs. TRAD −0.02 ± 0.01 seconds; p < 0.001) and 30 m (SLED −0.10 ± 0.03 vs. TRAD −0.05 ± 0.03 seconds; p = 0.003) sprint times were significantly greater in the SLED training group. Similarly, the percent change within the SLED group for the 10 m (SLED −2.43 ± 0.67 vs. TRAD −1.06 ± 0.80 seconds; p = 0.003) and 30 m (SLED −2.46 ± 0.63 vs. TRAD −1.15 ± 0.72 seconds; p = 0.003) tests were greater than the TRAD group. In conclusion, sprint training alone or combined with weighted sled towing can improve 10 and 30 m sprint times; however, the latter training method promoted greater improvements in a group of professional rugby players.

1Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, School of Life Science, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom

2Health and Sport Portfolio, College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom

3Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom

4UK Sport Council, London, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Dr. Liam P. Kilduff,

Copyright © 2013 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.