Change-of direction deficit in elite young soccer players
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Change-of-direction (COD) ability is an essential physical component for soccer. This study examined the relationships between conventional speed–power assessments and COD performance in elite young soccer players. Twenty-five under-20 male players from the same club (age: 17.6 ± 0.8 years, height: 178.1 ± 6.7 cm, body mass [BM]: 72.2 ± 7.9 kg) performed sprint speed tests, vertical jumps, loaded jump squats, half squats, and Zigzag COD assessments. Moreover, the COD deficit was calculated as the difference between 20-m sprint velocity and Zigzag COD test velocity. A Pearson correlation analysis was used to determine the correlations between Zigzag COD performance and COD deficit with speed and power outputs. Although no significant relationships between speed–power variables and COD ability were present, there were still strong positive correlations between traditional neuromechanical measures and COD deficit. Briefly, it seems that higher performances in speed and power tests are not necessarily related to better performances in specific COD maneuvers. Therefore, it is recommended that coaches and technical staff include specific COD drills in soccer player routines to optimize the transference from speed and power capacities to specific COD performance.