This is the first study to document the effects of taper on repeated-sprint ability. Although not significant, following the taper there was a 4.4% increase in total work (kJ) during the RSA test. This improvement appeared to be related to an improved ability to maintain sprint performance, as there was a significant decrease in work decrement across the five sprints following the taper. The plateau in performance from week 4 to week 6 and the
non-significant change in sprint 1 performance suggest that the observed changes following the taper were not due to a learning effect
We have previously reported that interval training can significantly improve repeatedsprint performance (Edge et al., 2002). However, the results of the present study demonstrate that most of this improvement occurs in the first few weeks of interval training. Similar to the results of Martin et al (1994), changes in performance were most pronounced in the first two to four weeks. From week four to six there appeared to be a plateau in performance. This plateau may indicate a training stimulus that was either not adequate in progressively overloading the subjects or was excessive and produced a residual fatigue that impaired RSA (Fry et al., 1991). The 4.4% improvement in performance associated with the 10-day taper supports the latter explanation. Furthermore, there was a progressive increase in training load each week.