This study aimed to compare the effects of a traditional warm-up with two post-activation potentiation (PAP) warm-up strategies on the repeated sprint ability (RSA) of soccer players from national (NL) and regional (RL) competitive levels. Sixteen young players (NL, n = 8, age = 20.7 ± 1.4 y, body mass = 68.5 ± 7.0 kg, body height = 177.4 ± 5.2 cm; RL, n = 8, age = 20.8 ± 1.0 y, body mass = 68.7 ± 4.0 kg, body height = 176.6 ± 5.6 cm) were recruited to complete a traditional warm-up (CONTROL), a PAP warm-up incorporating squats with a load (~60% 1RM) that allowed a high speed (1 m/s) of movement and a high number of repetitions (PAP-1), and a PAP warm-up with a load (~90% 1RM) that allowed a moderate speed (0.5 m/s) of movement and a reduced number of repetitions (PAP-0.5). A RSA test (six 20-m sprints with 20 s of recovery) was performed 5 min after the PAP warm-up to assess the effects of the different protocols on the fastest sprint (RSAb) and the mean time of all sprints (RSAm). A meaningful improvement of RSA performance was observed with PAP-0.5, attaining a large effect on NL (RSAb, ES = -1.5; RSAm, ES = -1.3) and only a small effect on RL athletes (RSAb and RSAm, ES = -0.2). Moreover, when each RSA sprint performance was compared between NL and RL players, after PAP-0.5 greater performance for all sprints was observed in the NL players. Therefore, adding a heavy strength-based conditioning exercise during the warm-up prior to a RSA test may induce significant performance improvements in NL, but only small effects in RL players.
In order to investigate the physical demands of widely used in soccer small-sided games (SSGs), we compared game variations performed under different interval (fixed or variable) and timing regimens (beginning or end of a training session). Twelve male players wore GPS devices during the SSGs to record total distance, relative distance, distance at different speeds, and maximum velocity variables. Four variations of SSGs (4x4) were randomly applied: beginning of a training session with fixed and variable recovery, or end of a training session with fixed and variable recovery. During the beginning or end of a training session settings with fixed recovery duration, 2-min of playing and 2-min of recovery were provided. During the beginning and end of a training session settings with variable recovery, athletes kept playing until a goal was scored, or up to 2-min if no goals were scored. Results were analysed using MANOVA. Total distance and relative distance were higher in the beginning compared to end of training sessions for both fixed and variable recovery duration (small to moderate effect sizes). Distance at various speed ranges (i.e., 13-18 km/h and >18 km/h) was higher (p ≤ 0.01) at the beginning than at the end of training sessions with variable recovery. In addition, distance >18 km/h was higher at the beginning of a training session with variable recovery than fixed recovery and at the end of a training session with variable recovery than fixed recovery. In conclusion, several physical demand characteristics are affected by the moment of SSG application, while others respond to the recovery regime during SSGs, thus providing indications to the coaches to prescribe the intended training intensity by manipulating the context.
This study aimed to examine the effect of running velocity on spatiotemporal parameters and lower-body stiffness of endurance runners, and the influence of the performance level on those adaptations. Twenty-two male runners (novice [NR], n = 12, and elite runners [ER], n = 10) performed an incremental running test with a total of 5 different running velocities (10, 12, 14, 16, 18 km/h). Each condition lasted 1 min (30 s acclimatization period, and 30 s recording period). Spatiotemporal parameters were measured using the OptoGait system. Vertical (Kvert) and leg (Kleg) stiffness were calculated according to the sine-wave method. A repeated measures ANOVA (2 x 5, group x velocities) revealed significant adaptations (p < 0.05) to increased velocity in all spatiotemporal parameters and Kvert in both NR and ER. ER showed a greater flight time (FT) and step angle (at 18 km/h) (p < 0.05), longer step length (SL) and lower step frequency (SF) (p < 0.05), whereas no between-group differences were found in contact time (CT) nor in the sub-phases during CT at any speed (p ≥ 0.05). ER also showed lower Kvert values at every running velocity (p < 0.05), and no differences in Kleg (p ≥ 0.05). In conclusion, lower SF and Kvert and, thereby, longer FT and SL, seem to be the main spatiotemporal characteristics of high-level runners compared to their low-level counterparts.
The aim of this study was to compare and examine differences in several neuromuscular assessments between female national Olympic team (Rio-2016) and national college team handball players (2015-Gwangju Summer Universiade). Twenty-eight elite female handball players of the national Brazilian Olympic (n = 12) and college (n = 16) teams participated in this study. The Olympic and college athletes performed the following speed-power tests assessing mean propulsive power (MPP) in loaded jump squat (JS) and bench press (BP) exercises, unloaded squat and countermovement jumps (SJ and CMJ), sprint performance over 5-, 10-, and 20-m, and change of direction ability in a standard Zig-zag test and a T-Test. The differences between Olympic and college team performances in all variables were analyzed using the magnitude-based inference. The Olympic group presented likely higher performances in the SJ, CMJ, and MPP JS and very likely higher performances in the MPP BP and T-Test than the college group. The differences in the linear sprint velocity in 5-, 10-, and 20-m tests as well as in the Zig-zag test were all rated as unclear. These findings may have substantial implications for the development of effective strength-power training and testing strategies in elite handball. In addition, coaches and researchers can use these data to create efficient talent identification programs for youth handball players.
This study aimed to compare vertical jump ability (squat-jump [SJ] and countermovement-jump [CMJ]), relative to body mass mean propulsive power in the jump-squat (MPP-REL JS), and the 0-5, 5-10, and 10-20 m acceleration and speed among soccer players from the same professional club, divided into age-categories (U15 [n = 20], U17 [n = 53], U20 [n = 22] and senior [n = 25] players). The tests were performed at the start of the preseason in indoor facilities. The magnitude-based inference approach and the standardized differences (based on effect sizes) were used to compare the age-groups. The SJ, CMJ, and MPP-REL JS increased across the age-groups up to U20, the latter being similar to senior players. Interestingly, the 0-5 m acceleration was likely and possibly higher in U15 players compared to U17 and senior players. Although soccer athletes improve their unloaded and loaded jump abilities across the age-categories (plateauing during adulthood), the same does not hold true for acceleration capacity, from the early phases of players’ development (i.e., U15). Strength and conditioning professionals should seek effective strategies to minimize impairment in maximal acceleration performance of elite soccer players throughout their prospective training programs.
This study aimed to analyse the effects of running velocity on spatiotemporal parameters and step variability in amateur endurance runners, according to sex. A group of 51 males and 46 females performed an incremental running test on a treadmill (10-16 km/h). Spatiotemporal parameters (contact and flight time, step length, step frequency and step angle [CT, FT, SL, SF, SA]) and step variability, in terms of within-participant standard deviation (SD), were recorded through the OptoGait System. The ANOVA showed significant differences in the magnitude of the spatiotemporal parameters as running velocity increased (p < 0.001). It also revealed significant differences in step variability (p < 0.005) over the entire running protocol. Between-sex differences in CT, SL, SL-normalized and SF (p < 0.05, ES = 0.4-0.8) were found. Differences were also found in step variability at high velocities (15-16 km/h), with males showing a greater SD than females. In conclusion, increasing running velocity makes CT shorter, FT and SL longer, and SF and SA greater in amateur endurance runners, changing step variability, regardless of sex. Additionally, some between-sex differences were found in spatiotemporal parameters and step variability.
The aim of this study was to compare the activity profile (external loads) during soccer-7 competition versus 6 vs 6 small-sided games ( SSGs) in U12 players. Peak velocity (Vmax), total distance completed (DT), total distance relative to match duration, the percentage of DT in acceleration (%DAC) and in deceleration (%DEA), and the percentage of DT at different speeds were recorded. Six types of SSGs were randomly implemented: without pitch orientation-delimitation and with a limit of three ball-contacts per player (3TOU), with no limit of ball-contacts (MAN), with a greater number of players as internal-offensive wildcard players (2WI) or external-offensive wildcard players (4WE); and with pitch orientation-delimitation and crossing the rival goal-line while dribbling the ball without goalkeepers (INV) or using official goalkeepers (GKP). The physical demands of SSGs were compared with the average of two soccer-7 match plays. During soccer-7 match plays a lower %DAC and %DEA (p < 0.05) were observed compared to 2WI, 4WE, INV and GKP, and to INV and GKP, respectively. The Vmax and %HI were greater (p < 0.05) in soccer-7 match plays compared to all SSGs. In conclusion, the demands imposed on U12 players during different formats of SSGs differ from the soccer-7 match play demands, presenting a low stimulation of the actions performed at high-speed and an adequate simulation of acceleration-deceleration actions.
Plyometric training and beta-alanine supplementation are common among soccer players, although its combined use had never been tested. Therefore, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to compare the effects of a plyometric training program, with or without beta-alanine supplementation, on maximal-intensity and endurance performance in female soccer players during an in-season training period. Athletes (23.7 ± 2.4 years) were assigned to either a plyometric training group receiving a placebo (PLACEBO, n = 8), a plyometric training group receiving beta-alanine supplementation (BA, n = 8), or a control group receiving placebo without following a plyometric training program (CONTROL, n = 9). Athletes were evaluated for single and repeated jumps and sprints, endurance, and change-of-direction speed performance before and after the intervention. Both plyometric training groups improved in explosive jumping (ES = 0.27 to 1.0), sprinting (ES = 0.31 to 0.78), repeated sprinting (ES = 0.39 to 0.91), 60 s repeated jumping (ES = 0.32 to 0.45), endurance (ES = 0.35 to 0.37), and change-of-direction speed performance (ES = 0.36 to 0.58), whereas no significant changes were observed for the CONTROL group. Nevertheless, compared to the CONTROL group, only the BA group showed greater improvements in endurance, repeated sprinting and repeated jumping performances. It was concluded that beta-alanine supplementation during plyometric training may add further adaptive changes related to endurance, repeated sprinting and jumping ability.