Endurance and Strength Training for Soccer Players

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Hoff, J. Helgerud, J.

Physiological Considerations

Soccer is one of the most widely played sports in the world, and players need technical, tactical and physical skills to succeed. In part, professional soccer is more concerned with selection rather than development. However, the focus of this review is exclusively on the development of players’ ability, primarily their physical resources. Individual technique, tactics and physical resources share importance when evaluating performance differences in soccer. The average importance of each of these first level analytic approaches to differences in performance is close to one-third.

Within physical resources, strength and power and their derivatives acceleration, sprinting and jumping share importance with endurance in explaining differences in physical resources within the soccer performance.

The levels of physical performance in professional soccer is moderate compared with several other sports where physical resources play the same relative role in explaining performance. A specificity principle has a stronghold within soccer training and also within physiological adaptations in soccer. A logical extension of a specificity principle would imply that the most effective strength and endurance training for soccer play is the play itself. The research conducted on training responses clearly shows that it is not the case, and the relatively modest capacities of top level soccer players point to the potential for performance enhancement.

Conclusion: Physiological research has developed the training for VO2max as the most important factor for endurance in soccer play, showing that 3-to 8-minute intervals at 90–95% of maximal heart frequency with intervening lactate elimination periods enhance both aerobic endurance capacity and soccer performance.

Strength training research show that maximal strength training using highloads (85%+ of 1RM) and maximal intended velocity in the concentric action gives high responses on sprints and jumps for soccer players. The fact that the same training also enhances aerobic performance through improved work economy is another important reason for introducing this type of training.

Understanding and communicating new developments in physiological research is probably the least of the problems in terms of changing existing training practices. The challenge is to ensure that this information is acted upon by soccer coaches and players.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14987126/

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