Does A Short Period of Lower Limb Strength Training Improve Performance in Field-Based Tests of Running and Agility in Young Professional Soccer Players?
The present study assessed the effects of specific leg strength training (as part of a broader exercise program) on running speed and agility in young professional soccer players. Twenty-six male players (ages 17 to 19 years) were divided into 3 groups. The reference group (Re) performed individual technical work only, the coordination group (Co) performed a circuit designed to promote agility, coordination, and balance control (together with some technical work) and the Squat group (Sq) underwent 3 series of 3 squat repetitions (at 90% of the individual maximum value) and a sprint, before competition of the agility circuit and some technical work. These specific training programs were performed 5 times a week for 3 weeks. Before the experimental session and at the end of each week, all players were assessed using 4 types of tests, (agility, a shuttle test with changes of direction, and 2 sprints over 10 and 7.32 meters, respectively), with completion time being the only performance parameter recorded. Our results indicate that in the short sprints or shuttle sprint with changes in direction, lower limb strengthening did not improve performance. Performance improved in all 3 groups in the agility test but more so in the reference and coordination groups. It appears that soccer-specific training composed of exercise circuits specifically adapted to the different types of effort actually used in match play can enhance agility and coordination.