Purpose: To compare the strength, speed, and power performance of elite sprinters with or without visual impairment. Methods: Twelve Olympic sprinters and fifteen Paralympic sprinters with visual impairment (PSVI) took part in this study. Sprinters from both groups performed the following tests: squat and countermovement jumps, maximum bar-power output in the half-squat and jump squat exercises, 60-m sprint. The differences between groups in all variables examined were analyzed using the independent t test. Results: Olympic sprinters revealed better performances in all tests when compared to PSVI (effect sizes ranging from 1.29 to 9.04; P< 0.001). Differences of ~32% and ~20% were found for the half-squat and loaded and unloaded vertical jumps, respectively. Smaller differences (from ~8% to ~11%) were obtained in linear sprint performance. Conclusions: Between-group differences peaked at low-velocity exercises (e.g., ~32% in the half-squat) and decreased as movement velocity and specificity increased (e.g., ~8% at 60-m sprint). Thus, the main differences between Olympic and Paralympic sprinters are related to the ability to apply force at low movement velocities. Coaches are encouraged to work on all sprinting phases and across the entire force-velocity spectrum, bearing in mind that improvements in strength will possibly lead to increased sprint performance in PSVI, especially in the acceleration phase of sprinting.
Fonte: International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, in press, 2021