Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (Sports Science)

School

School of Medical and Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Christopher Latella

Second Advisor

Professor Ken Nosaka

Third Advisor

Dr Fadi Ma’ayah

Fourth Advisor

Dr Daniel Hiscock

Abstract

Soccer is the most widely played sport in the world, and physical preparation for soccer players has been extensively researched over the years. As the average intensity of a soccer match is close to 80-90% of maximal heart rate (HRmax), it is necessary to train at or above this intensity. Thus, high-intensity interval running and small-sided games are often used to improve aerobic capacity and repeated sprint ability (RSA). However, neither of these approaches consider positional variations in the frequency and type of specific technical skills required in real match situations. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility, and short-term effects of a novel position-specific conditioning training (PSCT) on the physical and technical abilities of young soccer players.

This study recruited 15 male Vietnamese youth soccer players (16.1 ± 0.4 years, 171.7 ± 4.8 cm, 63.9 ± 3.8 kg) who frequently played in youth national tournaments. PSCT consisted of a specific drill for attackers, defenders and wingers, respectively. The intensity and duration were designed to be the same for all three drills (i.e., 4 × 4-min at 90-95% HRmax, separated by 4-min active recovery at 70% HRmax), but differentiated by the technical and tactical actions performed during high-intensity efforts and pitch location. All players participated in a 3-week control period of high-volume training, followed by a 3- week intervention period with PSCT drills added to usual team practice and matches twice a week. Criterion measures included Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test – level 1 (YYIRT1), repeated sprint ability (RSA) assessed by the total time of 6 x 30m sprint with 30-s passive recovery, and 10m and 30m sprint time. The Loughborough soccer passing test (LSPT) was used to assess the players’ technical skills in a fatigued and non-fatigued state. These measures were taken at baseline, after the control period and after the intervention period. The results showed that PSCT drills induced a desirable intensity for effective conditioning purpose (89.0 ± 2.1% HRmax) with low inter-player variability (CV = 2.4%). The weekly total training volume in terms of the distance covered during the control period was 45.45 ± 3.82 km, which was 11.97 km greater (P=0.017, ES= 1.82) than that of the intervention period (33.48 ± 6.40km). The distance covered in the YYIRT1 increased (P0.05) were observed from the baseline (26.21 ± 0.5 s) to post-control period (26.26 ± 0.8 s) and postintervention period (26.32 ± 0.8 s). This was also the case for 10m sprint time (baseline: 1.80 ± 0.1 s, post-control: 1.80 ± 0.1 s, post-intervention: 1.77 ± 0.1 s) and 30m sprint time (4.20 ± 0.1 s, 4.26 ± 0.1 s, 4.26 ± 0.2 s). No significant changes (p>0.05) were found for any parameter of the LSPT over time (from baseline to post-intervention) for both fatigued and non-fatigued conditions.

These results confirmed the feasibility of PSCT as a novel high-intensity training for soccer players, but it did not affect the physical and technical measures investigated in the present study in the time frame. Future research should further investigate the use of PSCT as a position-specific test and/or a novel conditioning approach by comparing PSCT to small sided games (SSG) or other forms of HIIT without ball contact in longer-term interventions

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