Team sports are increasingly popular, with millions of participants worldwide. Athletes engaged in these sports are required to repeatedly produce skilful actions and maximal or near-maximal efforts (eg, accelerations, changes in pace and direction, sprints, jumps and kicks), interspersed with brief recovery intervals (consisting of rest or low-intensity to moderate-intensity activity), over an extended period of time (1–2 h). While performance in most team sports is dominated by technical and tactical proficiencies, successful team-sport athletes must also have highly-developed, specific, physical capacities. Much effort goes into designing training programmes to improve these physical capacities, with expected benefits for team-sport performance. Recently, some team sports have introduced altitude training in the belief that it can further enhance team-sport physical performance. Until now, however, there is little published evidence showing improved team-sport performance following altitude training, despite the often considerable expense involved. In the absence of such studies, this review will identify important determinants of team-sport physical performance that may be improved by altitude training, with potential benefits for team-sport performance. These determinants can be broadly described as factors that enhance either sprint performance or the ability to recover from maximal or near-maximal efforts. There is some evidence that some of these physical capacities may be enhanced by altitude training, but further research is required to verify that these adaptations occur, that they are greater than what could be achieved by appropriate sea-level training and that they translate to improved team-sport performance.
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