Can Strength Training Improve Squat, Sprint Performance in Soccer Players?

Can Strength Training Improve Squat, Sprint Performance in Soccer Players?

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Title: Effects of Strength Training on Squat and Sprint Performance in Soccer Players

Author: Styles et al

Journal: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Objective: To determine whether a simple in-season strength training program would result in increases in maximal squat strength and short sprint performance, in professional soccer players

Background

Soccer, or futbol, is the most popular sport in the world with an estimated 3.5 billion fans, including 265 million who actively play the sport.

Soccer players run 8-12 km per match (5 - 7.5 miles), but the short duration high intensity sprints are often most demanding, accounting for 10-15% of that running.

If you’ve ever done a barbell back squats, you know it can make your legs sore as hell. Unsurprisingly, this exercise is well correlated to sprint performance and lower body strength.

Although this has been looked at to some degree, the authors wanted to know whether implementing an in-season back squatting program would improve strength and sprint performance.

Methods

Professional soccer players

  • 17 total, average age 18 years
  • completed 1 repetition maximum (1RM) back squat and sprint tests (5, 10, and 20 m) before and after a 6-week (32 week)
  • in-season strength training (85–90% 1RM) intervention

Results

Strength training resulted in significant improvements in absolute and relative strength on back squat.

  • Absolute strength (before = 125.4 kg, after = 149.3 kg, p < 0.001)
  • Relative strength (1RM/BM before: 1.66 , after = 1.96 p < 0.001)

There were small yet significant improvements in sprint performance over

  • 5 m (before = 1.11 seconds, after = 1.05 seconds, p < 0.001)
  • 10 m (before = 1.83 seconds, after = 1.78 seconds, p < 0.001)
  • 20 m (before = 3.09 seconds, after = 3.05 seconds, p < 0.001)

Conclusions

Implementation of in-season squat program improved players strength and sprint performance.

These results are not surprising, except this was achieved during the competitive season of soccer. Another recent study linked exercise to injury prevention in soccer players.

Very interesting, and I’d like to know how it applies to athletes in other sports.

Original Article

Styles, W. J., Matthews, M. J., & Comfort, P. (2016). Effects of Strength Training on Squat and Sprint Performance in Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(6), 1534-1539. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000001243

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