Sports Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 641–656 | Cite as

Sprint Running Performance Monitoring: Methodological and Practical Considerations

  • Thomas HaugenEmail author
  • Martin Buchheit
Review Article


The aim of this review is to investigate methodological concerns associated with sprint performance monitoring, more specifically the influence and magnitude of varying external conditions, technology and monitoring methodologies not directly related to human physiology. The combination of different starting procedures and triggering devices can cause up to very large time differences, which may be many times greater than performance changes caused by years of conditioning. Wind, altitude, temperature, barometric pressure and humidity can all combine to yield moderate time differences over short sprints. Sprint performance can also be affected by the athlete’s clothing, principally by its weight rather than its aerodynamic properties. On level surfaces, the track compliance must change dramatically before performance changes larger than typical variation can be detected. An optimal shoe bending stiffness can enhance performance by a small margin. Fully automatic timing systems, dual-beamed photocells, laser guns and high-speed video are the most accurate tools for sprint performance monitoring. Manual timing and single-beamed photocells should be avoided over short sprint distances (10–20 m) because of large absolute errors. The validity of today’s global positioning systems (GPS) technology is satisfactory for long distances (>30 m) and maximal velocity in team sports, but multiple observations are still needed as reliability is questionable. Based on different approaches used to estimate the smallest worthwhile performance change and the typical error of sprint measures, we have provided an assessment of the usefulness of speed evaluation from 5 to 40 m. Finally, we provide statistical guidelines to accurately assess changes in individual performance; i.e. considering both the smallest worthwhile change in performance and the typical error of measurement, which can be reduced while repeating the number of trials.


Global Position System Team Sport Sprint Performance Sprint Time Team Sport Athlete 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflicts of interest

Thomas Haugen and Martin Buchheit declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from the individual participant for whom identifying information is included in this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Olympic FederationOsloNorway
  2. 2.Sport Science DepartmentMyorobie AssociationMontvalezanFrance
  3. 3.Performance DepartmentParis Saint Germain Football ClubSaint-Germain-en-LayeFrance
  4. 4.Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, College of Sport and Exercise ScienceVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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