What is Repeated Sprint Ability?
RSA is the ability to repeatedly perform maximal high intensity sprints of short duration combined with a short intermittent rest period.
Why is RSA Important for Sport Performance?
Time-motion analysis studies, have shown repeated sprints to be involved in many influential aspects of game play, constituting to about 1-10% of total play. These include scoring opportunities, quick defensive turnovers and attacking set-ups.
So how do we Improve RSA?
The ability to perform consecutive sprints within a game with limited rest is fuelled by the integration of the aerobic and anaerobic pathways. The anaerobic pathway is the most immediate source for fuel during high-intensity bouts (PCr degradation and anaerobic glycolysis) however, when sprints are repeated the level of contribution by the aerobic system is progressively increased.
Unfortunately, both metabolic systems are affected by a number of fatigue parameters (neural and muscular factors) and this becomes an issue for RSA performance.
To maintain a high level of RSA performance, ideally it would be to delay the onset of fatigue and speed up recovery (i.e. improve an athletes efficiency of energy production and removing waste products). How do we do that? Training.
Literature to date is still yet to find a ‘gold standard’ of training for RSA, yet a concurrent implementation of different forms of training (resistance training, power training and sprint-speed training) has been suggested.