Effects of high-intensity position-specific drills on physical and technical skill performance in elite youth soccer players
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
National Strength and Conditioning Association
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Cuong Le, C, Ma'ayah, F, Nosaka, K, Hiscock, D, and Latella, C. Effects of high-intensity position-specific drills on physical and technical skill performance in elite youth soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 37(5): e332-e340, 2023 - Soccer physical preparation has been extensively researched with previous emphasis on high-intensity interval running and small-sided games. However, neither approach considers positional differences. The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility and short-term effects of a novel position-specific conditioning training (PSCT) paradigm on physical and technical abilities of young soccer players. Fifteen male Vietnamese professional youth soccer players (16.1 ± 0.4 years, 171.7 ± 4.8 cm, 63.9 ± 3.8 kg) undertook a 3-week control period followed by a 3-week intervention with PSCT drills performed twice per week. Position-specific conditioning training comprised purposely designed drills for attackers, defenders, and wingers, respectively. The intensity and duration were the same for all drills (4 × 4 minutes at ∼90% heart rate maximum [HRmax], separated by a 4-minute recovery at 70% HRmax) but differed in the technical and tactical actions performed. Outcome measures included Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1, repeated sprint ability, 10-m and 30-m sprint time, and the Loughborough Soccer Passing Test for technical skills in a fatigued and nonfatigued state. Position-specific conditioning training drills induced a desirable intensity for effective conditioning purpose (89.0 ± 2.1% HRmax) with low interplayer variability (coefficient of variation = 2.4%). Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 performance improved (p < 0.05) after the control (Δ178.7 ± 203.3 m) and intervention (Δ176.0 ± 225.7 m) periods without a difference between. These results confirmed the feasibility of PSCT as a novel high-intensity training approach for soccer players. Improvements in aerobic capacity were noted, despite no effect on other physical and technical measures. PSCT may be suitable for individual training, return-to-play stages of rehabilitation, during off-season, or in academy settings when time is not a constraint.