THE EFFECTS OF CAFFEINE ON SPRINT AGILITY IN SQUASH PLAYERS
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This study investigated the short-term effects of caffeine on sprint agility in squash players. A review of literature revealed extensive research regarding the effects of caffeine on anaerobic performance, however, only two conflicting studies specifically addressed sprint agility (Lorino, Lloyd, Crixell & Walker, 2006; Duvnjak-Zaknich, Dawson, Wallman & Henry, 2011). As agility is fundamental to squash success (Wilkinson, Leedale-Brown & Winter, 2009), eight players were tested to examine caffeine’s effects on sprint agility. The participants completed four squash-specific change of direction speed (SCODS) tests (familiarisation, control, caffeine and placebo), with the placebo and caffeine trials completed in a counterbalanced, single blind order. Three attempts were recorded in each trial, with the fastest times analysed. A one-way ANOVA with repeated measures was performed on fastest split time (FTs), fastest total time (FTt), average heart rate (HRa) and peak heart rate (HRp) scores, while a 95% significance (P ≤ 0.05) was employed. Sprint time and heart rate response revealed no significant (P > 0.05) difference between the control, (FTs, 4.87 ± 0.57, FTt, 10.71 ± 0.98, HRa, 133.20 ± 13.37, HRp 169.75 ± 9.85), caffeine (FTs, 4.91 ± 0.60, FTt, 10.57 ± 1.24, HRa, 126.67 ± 15.11, HRp, 164.25 ± 14.05) and placebo trials (FTs, 4.91 ± 0.44, FTt, 10.47 ± 1.17, HRa, 127.51 ± 15.14, HRp, 167.13 ± 10.99). However, with the exception of HRa results, the standard deviations were greatest during the caffeine intervention, suggesting an individualised caffeine response. Also, a trial order effect was observed between the third and fourth test sessions, suggesting latent learning occurred. Therefore, future studies should limit these learning effects by increasing familiarisation attempts. Consequently, sportsmen and women who frequently perform repetitive, short sprints within their sports would be advised to use caffeine cautiously, as its effects on sprint agility remain largely unknown.
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