Sprint every session, even if for only 15 meters x1 rep. It switches on the nervous system, build strength outside of the gym and reduces the possibility of injury. But do it early when not fatigued, ideally after a good warm up.
Because so much sprinting was done so poorly and in fatigued states near end of sessions it’s like it became a dirty word. What was happening there other than the endless reports of injuries were players were learning to sprint slower than their capabilities due to the fatiguing of the neuromuscular system.
Sprinting has many benefits way beyond simply running hard out at a marker. Sprinting build the muscles we use athletically. It’s almost impossible to develop these muscles in any other setting at maximum effort. Sprinting improves running economy. By improving economy you then use less energy to perform submaximal efforts (which is most efforts in field sport). You get fitter essentially.
Well designed repeat sprint sessions can enhance endurance better than traditional endurance training and clearly has a better transfer to field sports. This study showed sprint interval training improved Maximal aerobic Speed as well as speed in the 3KM Run. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839711/
One of the keys to sprint performance is allowing sufficient rest from maximal sprints. Anything over 30M I would give at least 2 mins. While many coaches get frustrated with this length of time for sprints maybe a meeting half way is some active rest with easy technical training. But full recovery from sprints has a huge effect on speed, injury reduction and the volume you can complete at high speed and quality.
This is one study of many that show longer rests means the Output is higher per sprint. This really just makes sense, from my experience and what research suggests, 2 good sprints flat out over 3 minutes is better than 6 sprints over same time. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5913318/
But the more times we can sprint the more times we can fire up our type II muscle fibers that makes us strong and fast. So taking the time to set aside specific straight line sprint training has massive benefits.
Conversely we need to be careful of our put at certain times of the week and year we need to be careful of our max sprinting load. We do not want to drain our nervous system too much. Sprinting too much without enough rest can actually make your athletes slower. Be prepared to cut a speed session and take 5-8 minutes rest before doing anything else for a good recovery. Quality trumps everything with sprinting
However, even 1 sprint can switch on our nervous system enough to 1) prepare for a technical-tactical session or game but 2) help keep us injury robust and finally 3) maintain speed gains developed early in training process. This readiness or the process of can be called Potentiation. This is essentially where we excite a certain group of muscles (as described already the athletic muscles) and that they are ramped up to a higher ceiling for Post Potentiation activity. We would often do this in the gym where we do jump squats before a Back Squat where we are aiming for heavy lifts. The jumping at lighter loads excites the muscle we use in a similar movement at which we may be intending to excel or max out on.
One of the best ways to transfer work done in the gym over onto the pitch is to sprint.
Another really easy way for coaches to use this system is the 3 sprint build up. Sprints between 20 and 60M long for 3 reps
1st Rep @ 80%
2nd Rep @ 90%
3rd Rep @ Max
Significant rests must be part of this, but easy active rest and technical drills or play at low level can be the answer here.
Sprint every session