Coaching Sprinting: Expert coaches’ perception of resistance-based training ~ Richard Bolger

Wk 7 Richard Bolger 3This paper forms one of the chapters of my PhD on Specificity of Resistance-based Training for Sprinters supervised by Dr Ian Kenny, Dr Mark Lyons and Dr Andrew Harrison. It follows on from my first paper “Sprinting Performance & Resistance-Based Training Interventions: A Systematic Review” published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research in April 2015 which aimed to summarise the effect different forms of resistance training had on the performance of elite sprinters. That study didn’t yield enough consensus regarding the types of exercises used by elite sprinters due to the dearth of published research on this population. As a team we decided to conduct semi-structured interviews to further explore the practices of the coaches and sprinters who compete at national / international level here in Ireland.

This produced the data for the paper in focus “Coaching Sprinting: Expert Coaches’ perception of resistance-based training” which was published in the International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching September 2016.

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The aim of this study was to explore expert coaches’ perceptions of resistance-based training for sprinting. This research posed three broad questions: (i) What resistance exercises are being performed by competitive sprinters? (ii) Why coaches have selected these exercises over others? (iii) How athletics coaches control and implement their use in training? Participants for the study comprised seven expert track and field sprint coaches.

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Findings indicated that the coaches used a variety of resistance-based training including variations of the squat, Olympic weightlifting movements and deadlift, along with resisted running in the form of weighted jackets, hill running, and weighted sleds. They also used plyometric variations of bounding and specific drills. The squat was used most often so particular emphasis was drawn towards variations of the squat and how exercises transferred from the weights room to the track. All coaches changed exercises to complement the focus from off-season to in-season. The main finding of this study relates to the current dearth of research to support evidence-based resistance exercise prescription for sprinters.

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Audio Abstract – Interview with Rob Pacey on the Strength of Science Blog

by Rob Pacey – Strength of Science Blog

These data were very useful as it provided me with a selection of exercises that I could test experimentally in the Biomechanics Research Unit (BRU). As a result, many days of data collection began both in the UL Arena and BRU with some of Ireland’s top sprinters. The next series of papers will look at comparing the chosen resistance training exercises against maximum velocity sprinting in a population of elite sprinters. They will focus on the kinematic and muscle activity of variations of squat against maximum velocity sprinting. We aim to shed more light on the muscles and mechanisms coaches should train to improve their sprinters.


For Further Information:

  • View the Coaching Sprinting paper link here!
  • View the Systematic Review Paper link here!
  • Link to Audio Abstract with Strength of Science Blog here!
  • Link to Video here!


Richard Bolger is a postgraduate student in the PESS Department. View Richard’s Profile here.

Richard’s Email Address:
Richard’s Twitter: @Richie_Bolger

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