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Strength and conditioning practices in elite male football

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There is limited published research on strength and conditioning (S&C) practices in elite football. Information regarding program design and factors that impact programming would provide valuable information to applied practitioners and researchers investigating the influence of performance interventions strategies. The aim of this study was to detail the current practices of S&C coaches working in senior male football. A questionnaire was developed that comprised of 3 main sections; Personal details & staff structure; strength and power development; and current issues and barriers to practice. Fifty-one (51 men; age 32.45  7.27 years) of 74 (68.9%) coaches responded to the questionnaire, working in senior male football for 9.61  5.65 years. All respondents believed strength training benefits football performance and reported that their athletes regularly performed strength training. The trap bar deadlift was rated the most frequently prescribed exercise. One-hundred percent of respondents reported prescribing plyometric training, and 43 (84%) indicated that periodisation strategies were used. Time availability was considered the biggest factor impacting program delivery. Building trust, relationships and communication were seen as the biggest determinants of successful S&C practice. This survey represents new data regarding S&C practices in elite male football and serves as a review of applied information.
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Introduction
Professional football is the world’s most
popular sport: the Federation of the
International Football Association (FIFA)
estimates that more than 270 million people
are actively involved in the sport worldwide.86
In recent years there has been a remarkable
expansion in, and acceptance of, sport
science (SS) and strength and conditioning
(S&C) practices within football.54 Strength
and conditioning is a discipline that is
recognized as a valid area of scientific
and professional practice, with S&C
practitioners increasingly becoming key
members of the multidisciplinary coaching
team.54 Given the accepted importance of
physical conditioning today, many teams
hire S&C coaches to help prepare athletes
for performance and to avoid injury.21,38
Football is a highly challenging sport
to support. In addition to the necessary
technical and tactical skills, football players
must develop and maintain a high level
of athleticism to be successful and can
require different – and in some cases –
contrasting physical qualities for successful
performance.
Strength and conditioning
provision and practices in
elite male football
INTRODUCTION
There is limited published research on strength and conditioning (S&C) practices
in elite football. Information regarding programme design and factors that impact
programming would provide valuable information to applied practitioners and
researchers investigating the influence of performance interventions strategies.
The aim of this study was to detail the current practices of S&C coaches working
in senior male football. A questionnaire was developed comprising three main
sections: personnel details and staff structure; strength and power development;
and current issues and barriers to practice. A total of 51 (51 men; age 32.45 ±
7.27 years) out of 74 (68.9%) coaches responded to the questionnaire, all of whom
had been working in senior male football for 9.61 ± 5.65 years. All respondents
believed that strength training benefits football performance and reported
that their athletes regularly performed strength training. The trap bar deadlift
was rated the most frequently prescribed exercise. One hundred percent of
respondents reported prescribing plyometric training, and 43 (84%) indicated
that periodisation strategies were used. Time availability was considered the
biggest factor impacting programme delivery. Building trust, relationships
and communication were seen as the biggest determinants of successful S&C
practice. This survey represents new data regarding S&C practices in elite male
football and serves as a review of applied information.
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
By Mike Beere1, Ian Jeffreys2 and Nicki Lewis2
Cardiff City Football Club1 and University of South Wales, Cardiff 2
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The development of a literature base
quantifying the physical demands of elite
football has allowed practitioners to gain a
greater understanding of the physiology of
football and thus potentially programme
more effectively for their athletes.57
The required increase in the physical
demand of successful performance is
demonstrated with the year-on-year increase
in match play intensity in English Premier
League matches.9 Here, high levels of
strength, power and endurance are required
to sustain the increased distance covered,
number of sprints and high speed running
actions performed.7 However, despite
the increased input from S&C and SS
practitioners, and the potential to enhance
practice, there remains a challenge in fully
integrating this work into the practices of
football at multiple levels. This situation is
often exacerbated by a lack of understanding
of the roles that S&C coaches play and the
practices utilised within the game.
Over the past decade there has been a surge
in football-related information in the field.
This has involved the application of multiple
modalities, including monitoring of on-field
training practices,57 injury prevention,53,54,60
fatigue monitoring,83 return to play
criteria,80,20 and training load.49 However,
although these areas have received plenty
of review, there appears to be a relative
dearth of research exploring the function
of traditional S&C practices, and even less
concerning the practices, strategies and
periodisation used by S&C professionals in
elite male football.
S&C practices have been examined
in numerous other sports including
basketball,73 ice hockey,24 American
football,22 rugby union,40 rowing,34 baseball23
and cricket.64 However, there are very limited
available data on how S&C professionals
operate in elite football. Research in football
has typically focused on injury prevention
methods in international Premier League
clubs,53 during international competition,54
and during the return to play/perform
process.20 Unfortunately, there are currently
no data regarding specific details on
methods of application, such as session
distribution, session frequency and
periodisation strategies; staff structure;
methodologies utilised, programming
rationales, and session compliance.
Similarly, there is no clear understanding
of the logistical challenges facing S&C
coaches, such as the impact of match
schedules on programming, the impact of
the coaching team and how these challenges
at elite professional level impact the
implementation strategy of the S&C coach.
In addition, information regarding how
practitioners overcome the challenges faced
in day-to-day delivery of S&C programmes
has never been reported. Yet without an
understanding of context, the challenges of
application can never be fully elucidated.
Therefore, the purpose of this survey was
to examine a variety of S&C practices and
to determine the common and the unique
practices employed in elite male football.
Information obtained from this research
will allow coaches access to a serviceable
source of the collective ideas of others that
they can then use to compare with their
own provision, and potentially incorporate
into, their own practices. This information
may also help inform training programme
design for future studies seeking to examine
the influence of S&C interventions in elite
football players.
Materials and methods
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM
This study utilised a quantitative research
design in the form of an online survey
to examine the current practices and
perceptions of S&C coaches in senior male
football clubs in the UK and USA. The
survey, titled ‘Strength and Conditioning
Questionnaire’, was adapted from that
commonly used in other sports by Ebben
and Blackard.22 The questionnaire was
adapted to be specific to football, to the
demands of this research and to test the
hypothesis that football S&C coaches follow
contemporary and scientifically-based
principles of strength and conditioning
practices. It was hoped that coaches would
be willing to share their ideas, practices and
perceptions through this survey.
SURVEY
The questionnaire was pilot tested on a
group of five S&C coaches, academics
and researchers in order to determine the
reliability and validity of the questions. Once
feedback was received, certain questions
were modified. This included changing the
order of the questions, so that the logical
order would be improved, changing some
qualitative questions to quantitative queries
and rewording questions to make them
clearer. After this, the survey was reassessed
by a supervisory panel before being sent to
the coaches.
The survey consisted of three main sections:
personnel details and staff structure;
strength and power development; and
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
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current issues and barriers to practice. The
survey contained 48 questions (3 open and
45 closed) relating to the objectives and
methods of S&C practices.
The online survey was distributed to S&C
coaches, sports scientists and medical
professionals working in professional senior
male football teams in the UK and America
via the website sogosurvey.com.
DATA COLLECTION
All subjects were informed of the purposes
of the investigation before participating in
the study. An initial email or message via
social media platforms describing the study
was sent to the S&C coaches at the selected
football clubs. This message included a
description of the broader study, and an
explanation of what the survey would entail.
Only those who responded to assist in the
research were then contacted by an email
containing an electronic link to access the
survey.
The coaches were given 30 days from the
time of receiving the email to complete the
survey. If no responses were received after
30 days, a reminder was sent for a further 30
days. After 60 days, the questionnaires that
were completed were collated for statistical
analyses. All data were collected between
July and August 2019, and referenced the
2018-19 football season.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
All data were collected using an online
questionnaire (sogosurvey.com, VA, USA).
The survey consisted of a combination of
fixed-response and open-ended questions.
Data analysis procedures were descriptive
in nature with frequency counts and
percentages calculated. In addition, some
of the questions were scored to produce
rank scores, with the frequency count of
each response reported, as well as a 5-point
Likert Scale set as 1 (not at all) to 5 (very
important).
RESULTS
PERSONAL DETAILS
Fifty-one (51 men; age 32.45 ± 7.27 years)
of 74 (68.9%) coaches responded to the
questionnaire. The respondents consisted
of three head S&C coaches, twelve heads
of sports science, six heads of performance,
eight heads of fitness and one head of
medical. A further four senior S&C coaches,
one senior sports scientist, three first team
S&C coaches, five first team sport scientists,
one first team physiotherapist, three first
team rehab specialists and one assistant
S&C coach also responded. Two responders
were highlighted as ‘other’, but no further
information was given.
Out of the 51 responders, 45 (88.2%)
practitioners were based in the UK, and 6
(11.8%) in the USA. Information on the level
of the participants’ clubs is presented in
Table 1. On average, the participants had
been working in professional football for
9.61 ± 5.65 years, and had worked in their
current role for 2.97 ± 2.79 years.
STAFF STRUCTURE
A total of 452 staff worked in the 51 clubs
that responded. The greatest number of
staff were physiotherapists (n=123). Sport
scientists (n=69), soft tissue therapists
(n=66), sports doctors (n=52), and S&C
coaches (n=48) were also reported as support
staff. There were 61 interns, and 33 classed
as ‘other’, such as nutritionists.
Subjects were asked how many support
staff had previously completed an
internship placement, at the current club
or previous club. A total of 134 staff had
previously completed an internship in
the 51 clubs that responded. The greatest
number of internships had been carried
out by sport scientists (n=48, 36%). Strength
and conditioning coaches (n=36, 27%),
physiotherapists and soft tissue therapists
(both n=23, 17%) were also reported as staff
to have completed an internship. Two (1%)
sports doctors completed an internship
placement.
When analysed as a percentage of those
currently in a job, 36 out of the 48 (75%)
who were now S&C coaches had completed
an internship placement; 48 out of the
69 (70%) who were now sport scientists
had done so; 35% of soft tissue therapists
and 19% of physiotherapists. In total, 29%
of staff who currently work in football
had previously completed an internship
placement.
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
Table 1. Competition standard of respondents’ clubs
PREMIER CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE ONE LEAGUE TWO NATIONAL LEAGUE SCOTTISH MAJOR LEAGUE
LEAGUE PREMIERSHIP SOCCER
9 17 8 7 2 3 6
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FORMAL EDUCATION
Fifty-two percent of total staff had an
undergraduate degree in strength and
conditioning, sports science or related
medical subject; 31% held a master’s degree
in a related field; 4% held a PhD. In addition,
11% and 3% of total staff were currently
studying a master’s degree or a PhD
respectively.
CERTIFICATION
A total of 112 staff members held an S&C
related certification. The most commonly
held professional certifications were the
United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning
Association (UKSCA) ASCC Accreditation,
and also the National Strength and
Conditioning Association (NSCA) CSCS
certification (n = 37, 33%, and n=36, 32%
respectively). Twenty-two (20%) staff held
‘other S&C’ certifications, and 17 (15%)
participants were accredited with the British
Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences
(BASES). Forty members of staff were
certified with a football-specific coaching
certification. The most commonly held
coaching certification was UEFA B licence
(n = 29, 73%), with 10 (25%) holding a UEFA
A and 1 (3%) with a UEFA Pro Licence.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT
The initial question in the section asked if
practitioners believed that S&C practices
have an important benefit to improving
football performance. Answers were ranked
on a Likert scale of 1 – 5, with 1 = not at all,
and 5 = very important. Fifty out of the 51
responders answered this question. Results
on the perceived benefits of S&C on football
performance are presented in Figure 1.
All 51 coaches stated that lower limb
strength and conditioning was incorporated
into their programmes. The top five reasons
for including S&C are presented in Table 2,
with answers weighted by rank score.
Forty-five (88%) out of the 51 respondents
said that S&C sessions were compulsory
for all players. Six coaches said that
S&C sessions were not compulsory. An
additional comment was: ‘no punishment
for not completing so can’t describe as
compulsory, but sessions are encouraged
by management’. When asked to detail
the percentage of players who regularly
completed lower limb strength sessions, the
most selected response was 91-100% (n=39,
76%). Six (11.7%) coaches responded 81-90%,
and five (9.8%) said 71-80%. Only one coach
responded 51-60%.
Coaches were asked to select what best
described the S&C sessions provided; they
were given the choice of more than one
answer, with a total of 113 answers selected
by the 51 coaches. The most common
description (53%, n=27) was: ‘players do the
same compulsory exercises, but have specific
individual extras’. Forty-nine percent (n=25)
32
12
5
10
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
Very important Important Moderately important Slightly important Not at all
Figure 1. Perceived
benefits of strength and
conditioning practices on
soccer performance
Table 2. The top five reasons for including lower limb strength and conditioning practices
REASONS FOR INCLUDING S&C RANK WEIGHTED RANK (SCORE)
1 2 3
Help the players develop physical qualities needed 19 15 7 1 (94)
Make the players more robust 13 6 11 2 (62)
Stronger players are more resilient 4 11 8 3 (42)
Helps improve our injury rates 4 6 4 4 (37)
Enhance fundamental movement skills 5 4 6 5 (29)
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
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stated that ‘our S&C programmes prioritise
performance enhancement strategies’, and
47%, (n=24) that ‘exercises are individual,
based on a needs analysis of each player’.
Thirty-three percent (n=17) stated that the
programmes: ‘prioritise injury prevention or
reduction strategies’. Twenty-one percent
(n=11) of coaches stated that: ‘exercises are
the same for all, but load and volume are
individual’ and 15.5% (n=8) stated that: ‘the
majority of the playing squad perform the
same exercise’.
The final question in this sub-section asked
practitioners about the typical duration of an
in-season S&C session. Figure 2 presents the
responses from the coaches.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
FREQUENCY OF SESSION
This sub-section asked how many, and
on what days of the week, strength and
conditioning sessions were performed
during the in-season in relation to the next
match day (MD). Figures 3 and 4 highlight
the responses from coaches with regards
to provision during a two-game week
(eg, Saturday and Saturday); and a three-game
week (eg, Saturday, mid-week and Saturday)
respectively, and Figure 5 highlights when
sessions were performed in relation to the
next match day (MD).
During a three-game week, 16 (31%) coaches
reported that all players completed at least
one S&C session, 14 (27%) reported that only
non-starting players completed a session, 15
(29%) reported that sessions were set on an
individual basis, and 8 (16%) reported that
no players completed any session. Reasons
reported as to why no players completed
an S&C session included: ‘lack of time
between matches doesn’t allow full recovery’,
‘management want players to rest or
have days off’, ‘a greater emphasis is
placed on recovery strategies’, ‘not deemed
appropriate’, and ‘no gym-based work, but
extended power-based activation is performed
on the pitch’.
The final question in this sub-section asked
how external load (resistance) was determined
during an S&C session. Practitioners could
select more than one answer for this question.
Thirty (58%) coaches responded that it was
‘athlete-led’; 28 (55%) stated it was ‘based on
periodisation or phase of training’; 25 (49%)
‘coach’s subjective assessment’; and nine
(17%) responded that load was determined
by ‘measures of velocity with the use of
technology’ and ‘rep max or strength testing’.
No-one suggested that load was similar for all
players.
0
18
31
4
0
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
0–15mins 15–30mins 30–45mins 45–60mins 60mins+
Number of coaches
36
46
13
17
0 0
7
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
MD+1 MD+2 MD-4 MD-3 MD-2 MD-1 Match day Post match
19
29
3
0 0
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
1d.wk-1 2d.wk-1 3d.wk-1 4d.wk-1 5d.wk-1
Number of coaches
20
26
3
0
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
0dxwk-1 1dxwk-1 2dxwk-1 3dxwk-1
Number of coaches
Figure 5. Days of the week strength and conditioning sessions were
performed in relation to the next match day (MD)
Figure 2. Average length of soccer strength and conditioning coaches’ in-
season S&C session
Figure 3. The number of strength and conditioning sessions provided in-
season during a two-game week
Figure 4. The number of strength and conditioning sessions provided in-
season during a three-game week
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
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STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
EXERCISE SELECTION
The next sub-section asked which exercise
modalities were most commonly used in
S&C practices. Answers were weighted by
rank score. Thirty-seven (72.5%) coaches
ranked using free weight (barbell, dumbbell
or kettlebell) resistance at number one.
Plyometric exercises were ranked second
with Nordic hamstring curls third.
Derivatives of Olympic weightlifting
movements and isometric training were
ranked fourth and fifth respectively. Other
commonly ranked exercises modalities were
eccentric slide boards, complex training, fly
wheel training and velocity-based training.
Coaches were asked to detail their top
five most frequently used exercises. The
most selected exercise was the trap bar
or hex bar deadlift with 26 (51%) out of 51
coaches incorporating this exercise into
their programmes. Romanian or stiff leg
deadlift variations (n=22, 43%), barbell squat
(n=21, 41%), rear foot or split stance squat
variations (n=20, 39%), Nordic hamstring
curls (n=15, 29%) and hip thrusts (n=13,
25%) were the other most frequently used
exercises. Numerous other exercises were
also ranked in coaches’ top five exercises,
including: eccentric hamstring curls, calf
raises, lunge patterns, isometric hamstring
holds, step-ups, Copenhagen adductor
holds, single leg jumps, and derivatives of
Olympic Weightlifting, such as jump shrugs,
hang cleans and drop snatches.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
PLYOMETRICS
In the following section participants were
asked if they incorporated plyometric
exercises into their S&C programme and,
if they did, the reasons why. One hundred
percent (n=50 of coaches who answered
reported using plyometrics, with one coach
not answering the question.
In terms of plyometric rationale, 68% (n=35)
of coaches reported using plyometrics for
improving rate of force development, 49%
(n=25) for improving reactive strength, 43%
(n=22) for training the stretch shortening
cycle, 41% (n=21) for improving stiffness,
and 29% (n=15) for injury prevention. Other
answers were ‘improving vertical jump’,
‘upper body power’, ‘speed development’
and ‘full body power’.
The second question in this sub-section
asked coaches how they integrate plyometric
training into their S&C programmes. Forty-
seven percent (n=24) of coaches stated that
it is ‘dependent on the individual athlete’.
Twenty-nine percent (n =15) of coaches
reported that ‘plyometrics and resistance
training are done as complex training during
the same session’, 27% (n =14) ‘only included
on the grass during the warm-up’, and 22% (n
=11) state that plyometrics are completed ‘on
separate days to resistance training’. Other
responses included ‘depends on the phase
of training as to when they are included’,
‘pre-training to potentiate speed drills’ and
‘incorporated within sprinting sessions’.
The third question in this sub-section asked
coaches to identify the types of plyometric
exercises regularly used in their sessions.
Figure 6 highlights the responses from the
coaches. Other select responses include
‘proprioceptive ancillary drills for stiffness’
and ‘ankling warm-ups’.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
ECCENTRIC TRAINING
In the following section, participants were
asked if they incorporated eccentric overload
exercises into their S&C programme and,
if so, the reasons why. Forty-five out of 51
(88%) coaches reported using eccentric
exercises. Forty (78%) coaches reported using
eccentrics for preventing injuries. Twenty-
five (49%) coaches used eccentric exercises
as ‘they follow the recommended advice
given in available literature’, 15 (31%) used
them as they ‘can provide the exercises in
environments away from the gym’, 12 (24%)
responded: ‘we can use only a few exercises
to get a significant physical adaption in our
players’ and 7 (14%) used eccentric exercises
as ‘players find it useful’.
Six (12%) coaches reported not using
eccentric exercises. The main reason given
was: ‘we don’t have time to recover from
eccentric overload exercises during the
season’. Other responses included: ‘we
don’t have the equipment to test eccentric
strength’, ‘maximal effort eccentric work
provides too much DOMS’, and ‘players
have a negative perception of the eccentric
exercises, such as the Nordic’.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
PERIODISATION
The next sub-section related to
periodisation strategies used to implement
S&C sessions. Eighty-four percent (n=43)
of coaches answered that ‘yes’ they do use
a periodisation strategy; 16% (n =8) said
‘no’ they did not. Sixty percent of those
who implement a periodisation strategy
responded that ‘periodisation helps target a
specific outcome of a specific period’. Other
answers were: ‘periodised training offers
superior developments of strength, power
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and performance variables” (n=22); ‘it helps
prevent stagnation or boredom’ (n=11); and it
is ‘vital to know when to add or delay changes
in the programme’ (n=10). The main reason
as to why a periodisation strategy was not
incorporated was ‘too many external variables
interrupt any pre-planned periodisation
strategy’ and ‘players don’t perform enough
S&C to follow a true or traditional periodisation
strategy’ (n=4). Other responses included: ‘too
many matches’, ‘our sessions incorporate most
aspects of athletic development’ and ‘we don’t
follow a traditional model of periodisation’.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT: SPEED
DEVELOPMENT TRAINING
In the following section participants were
asked which forms of training were used
for targeting speed development, when this
occurred, and how often they were trained.
Information regarding the type of speed
development exercises most frequently used
by football S&C practitioners are highlighted
in Figure 7. The second question in this sub-
section asked coaches how they integrate
speed development training into their S&C
programmes. Information regarding how
speed development training is integrated into
S&C programming in relation to resistance
training session is highlighted in Figure
8. The final question in this sub-section
asked practitioners how often these speed
development modalities were specifically
targeted in the training schedule.
When specifically targeting acceleration, the
most common response from practitioners
was ‘once a week’ (n=17). Thirteen coaches
specifically targeted acceleration daily, and
12 twice a week. When specifically targeting
change of direction speed (CODs), the
most common response from practitioners
was ‘twice a week’ (n=17). Sixteen coaches
specifically targeted CODs ‘once a week’,
and nine daily. When specifically targeting
deceleration, the most common response
from practitioners was ‘once a week’ (n=19).
Fifteen coaches specifically targeted
deceleration twice a week and nine daily.
When specifically targeting high speed
running, the most common response from
practitioners was ‘twice a week’ (n=24).
Eighteen coaches specifically targeted high
speed running once a week, and six did the
same three times a week. When specifically
targeting max speed, the most common
response from practitioners was ‘once a week’
(n=35). Ten coaches specifically targeted
max speed twice a week, and two fortnightly.
When specifically targeting repeated sprint
ability (RSA), the most common response
from coaches was ‘once a week’ (n=24). Seven
41
36
32
28 28 27
24
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
Multiple hops/
jumps
Box drills Reactive jumps
in place
Bounding Vertical jumps Horizontal
jumps
Depth
jumps
40 39
35
32
28
25 23
12
10
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
Plyometrics
Resisted running
Un-resisted running
Improving max strength
Sprint mechanics
Speed endurance runs
Improving relative strength
Olympic weightlifitng
Overspeed running
Other
Figure 8. How coaches incorporate speed development sessions in relation to
resistance training
Figure 7. Exercises used by strength and conditioning coaches for speed
development training
27
25
13
9
6
2
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
On pitch, during
the warm-up
Depends on
the individual
Same day,
but before
resistance training
Complex training
with resistance
training
On separate
days
Same day, but
after resistance
training
Figure 6. The type of plyometric exercises most frequently used by soccer
S&C coaches
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
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ISSUE 58 / SEPTEMBER 2020
coaches specifically targeted RSA twice a
week, and six fortnightly and monthly.
CURRENT ISSUES AND BARRIERS TO PRACTICE
The fourth section of this survey elicited
responses from coaches regarding attitudes,
experiences and barriers facing the delivery
of S&C practices in football. This aimed to
address attitudes – not only of the players
but also of other key people who facilitate
the success of any strength and conditioning
programme.
The first question in this section asked
coaches if they thought there had been a
positive change in attitude from players
and management towards S&C practices.
Forty-eight (94%) of coaches believed there
has been a positive change in attitude from
players towards S&C practices during their
time working in football. Two (4%) coaches
were ‘unsure’, and one coach suggested
‘definitely more buy-in across the squad
as a whole, but is this because the players
are more conditioned to just do as they are
told?’
Forty-two coaches believe there has been
a positive change in attitude from senior
management/staff towards S&C practices
during their time working in football, with
three suggesting there hasn’t been, and one
‘unsure’. Four coaches gave more detailed
responses including: ‘in my current club
yes, but when working at a bigger club,
senior staff did not believe there was a
benefit to strength training’, ‘depends on
the management’, ‘still considered behind
physio as it’s an older discipline. Some
coaches also not interested in what we can
help them with’, and ‘different staff have
different views and expectations’.
Table 3. Challenges facing delivery of S&C practices at responders’ clubs
CHALLENGES RANK WEIGHTED RANK
1 2 3 4 5 (SCORE)
Lack of time between matches 8 7 6 5 4 1
Importance of winning 2 7 3 4 4 2
Lack of or poor facilities 6 1 4 3 5 3
Lack of staff 5 2 7 1 0 4
Players’ previous negative experiences 2 5 4 3 6 5
Constant changes in management 4 2 1 5 4 6
None – we have good adherence and 6 0 3 1 3 7
no challenges
Lack of appreciation and 2 4 2 1 1 8
understanding of role
Lack of player understanding or buy-in 1 4 1 4 1 9
Trying to keep things fresh 3 0 4 1 3 10
Table 4. Perceived challenges facing delivery of S&C practices at other clubs
CHALLENGES RANK WEIGHTED RANK
1 2 3 4 5 (SCORE)
Constant changes in management 12 4 1 4 1 1
Authority over implementing practice 6 6 2 1 2 2
Importance of winning 3 3 4 9 2 3
Integration with coaching staff philosophies 3 4 4 2 7 4
Lack of time between matches 1 3 10 2 3 4
Lack of or poor facilities 3 6 1 3 3 5
Lack of staff 2 6 4 0 2 6
Lack of appreciation and understanding of role 4 3 2 3 3 7
Difficulty quantifying benefits 3 2 6 0 4 8
Lack of support from management 3 3 2 4 3 9
Lack of player understanding or buy-in 2 1 4 2 1 10
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The second question in this sub-section
asked coaches for their experiences with
the challenges they faced in delivering S&C
practices, as well as their opinion on the
challenges facing S&C delivery for all other
S&C coaches in football. Ranked weighted
order (weighted average) responses
show that lack of time available between
matches was deemed the biggest challenge
facing coaches in providing effective S&C
programmes in their own organisation.
Table 3 details the top 10 challenges facing
delivery of S&C practices at clubs. Other
selected responses included: ‘integration
with coaching staff philosophies’, ‘authority
over implementing practices’ and ‘too much
travelling’.
Table 4 details the ranking of the top
10 perceived challenges facing delivery
of S&C practices in football as a whole.
Responses showed that ‘constant change
in management’ is believed to be the main
challenge facing football as a whole. Other
selected responses included ‘players getting
input from external coaches’ and ‘players’
previous experiences’.
The final question in this subsection related
to the most valuable method for creating a
positive buy-in or attitude towards strength
and conditioning practices. Results show
that 46 (90%) coaches believed ‘building
trust and effective relationships with
players’ to be the most valuable method for
creating a positive attitude towards S&C.
A total of 41 (80%) coaches reported
‘effective communication with athletes’
as the second most valuable method for
creating a positive attitude towards S&C;
in contrast, 37 (72%) coaches reported that
‘showing the player how gym based exercises
will translate to on-pitch improvements’,
35 (69%) coaches suggested ‘the ability to
vary coaching style to different athletes’ and
‘building trust and relationships with staff’
are all important factors in creating positive
attitude towards strength and conditioning
practices. Programme design (n=14, 27%),
exercise selection (n=11, 21%), and use of
the latest technology (n=4, 8%) were other
factors to be considered.
DISCUSSION
The present study sought to conduct a
comprehensive survey of S&C practices
in senior professional male football; to the
authors’ knowledge, this is the first such
assessment. It is also the first assessment
to investigate the concerns and challenges
that practitioners face when trying to
implement S&C practice, although some
have been reported in injury prevention
studies. Seventy-four practitioners working
in professional, senior male football were
invited to participate and 51 responded
(69%). Although this may be lower
than some previous response rates
within similar studies in other sports
(47-87%),22,23,40,73 this is the highest number
of respondents obtained in a study
examining S&C provision in a single sport
to date. Previous studies examining S&C
practices in various sports have received
between 20 and 43 responses.22,23,24,34,40,73
In similar reports into injury rates in
professional football, response rates were
44 (53) and 32.54 As such,51 responses at a
return rate of 69% were deemed sufficient
for analysis and is the highest number of
respondents to a survey of S&C practices.
All respondents supported athletes in
professional, senior male football. There
were nine respondents from the English
Premier league, 17 from the English
Championship, 8 from League One, 7 from
League Two, 3 from Scottish Premiership,
6 from Major League Football (USA) and
2 from the National League. The data
presented in this article are therefore truly
reflective of elite, senior male football.
Respondents were also experienced in the
field of S&C, with an average time working
in football of 9.61 ± 5.65 years; in addition,
they had worked in their current role for
2.97 ± 2.79 years. This level of experience is
similar to those coaches who responded in
similar research in different sports.23,24
Respondents were also experienced in the
field of S&C, with an average time working
in football of 9.61 ± 5.65 years; in addition,
they had worked in their current role for
2.97 ± 2.79 years. This level of experience is
similar to those coaches who responded in
similar research in different sports.23,24
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT
There is great variance in the physical
qualities required for successful football
performance;47,61 also, the increasing physical
requirements in elite football7,9 suggest
that the inclusion of S&C practices would
be beneficial to help players cope with this
demand. Research indicates that football
performance requires a level of contractile
strength which can be improved through
S&C practices. Lower limb strength training,
such as sprint speed and jumps,15,36,70
has been shown to have a positive influence
on football-specific movements and is seen
as an important factor in physical success.
‘This is the
highest number
of respondents
obtained
in a study
examining S&C
provision in a
single sport to
date’
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In this survey, 100% of coaches who
responded indicated that lower limb
strength training was regularly incorporated
into their programmes, with 88% stating
that sessions are compulsory. In addition, a
total of 86% of practitioners believe strength
training is very important (63%) or important
(23%) for football performance. The most
common reason for incorporating lower
limb S&C training was to ‘help develop the
physical qualities needed to play the game’.
In this study, practitioners stated that the
main focus of their S&C programmes was
to: ‘prioritise performance enhancement
strategies’ (n =25, 49%) rather than
‘prioritising injury prevention or reduction
strategies (n=17, 33.3%). Previous research
in football has focused on injury prevention
strategies53,60 and the practices that are
perceived to help this. This could suggest
that injury reduction is the primary goal of
S&C interventions in football. However, our
study clearly contradicts this and provides
information regarding S&C in football
that has hitherto been unreported: this
has implications on the types of practices
deemed to be most effective in football.
Although not reported in football, well-
developed lower-body strength, repeated
sprint ability and speed have all been shown
to be associated with a greater tolerance to
higher workloads, as well as a reduced risk
of injury in team-sport players.50 Also, elite
rugby league players, with greater high-
intensity running ability and lower body
strength, have been shown to experience
smaller decrements in peak power output
post-match.39
The role of muscle strength and muscle
imbalances as risk factors for lower limb
injuries has been widely discussed.17,31,53,54
In fact, muscle imbalances have previously
been ranked as the third most important
intrinsic risk factor for injury in elite male
football.53,54 Adequate training to improve
muscular strength has been reported
as the main measure for reducing these
imbalances and reducing injury risk in
football players4,82 and has been shown to
reduce injuries to less than one third and
over-use injuries almost halved.44
The physical demands of professional
male football are continually increasing.7,9
Consequently, improving the ability to not
only tolerate these demands, but also to
enhance performance, can bring significant
benefits to the football club. Lower limb
injuries represent a disconcerting cause of
time lost from male professional football,25,27,41
decreased player performance26,35 and
financial cost.28 It should be noted that
reducing a player’s risk of injury could in turn
be a performance-enhancement strategy in
itself. If a player spends more time training
and being available for match selection due
to a reduction in their injury risk/increase
in work capacity, then this should be seen
as a performance-enhancement strategy.
Moreover, 93% of coaches, staff and players
questioned in a recent review59 suggested
that it was the fitness coach’s responsibility
to ensure ‘injury prevention programmes’
are put in place.
Although the reduction of injuries is an
important factor in success, pushing the
boundaries of physical performance to meet,
for example, rowing demands, should be a
key focus of S&C practitioners in any sport,
including football of course. The results of
this research are enlightening and suggest
that the majority of coaches aim to drive
physical performance.
It is clearly, therefore, a dual role of the S&C
coach to not only provide effective injury
reduction based training, but also to aim to
improve the physical capabilities (such as
RFD, speed, endurance, strength) of their
players.
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STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT: SESSION
DURATION AND FREQUENCY
A typical duration of an in-season S&C
session was 30-45 minutes (Figure 2), which
appears to be shorter than that reported
in other sports. In rugby union, ice hockey
and basketball, a typical session is 45-
60mins+,40,24,73 and in rowing sessions can
be 60-75mins+.34 Time available between
matches and throughout the training week
are reported as challenges to S&C provision,
not only in this current research but also in
others.54,57 However, rugby and rowing may
not provide suitable comparators. In the
case of rugby union, the fixture demand is
less than that in football. Often rugby union
matches only occur once a week. Rowing,
when considered as an Olympic sport,
will have long periods out of competition
during the four-year Olympic cycle and as
such, may have a stronger tradition of S&C
practices, and therefore an increase in S&C
time and provision.
Twenty-nine (56.8%) coaches reported
prescribing strength training two days a
week during a two-game week (eg, Saturday
and Saturday). The most frequent training
day was match day-4 (MD-4), with 46 (90%)
coaches reporting they perform S&C on
this day. These are similar to those reported
in other sports, with 2 d·wk-1 reported as
the most common in basketball73 and ice
hockey,24 but 3 d·wk-1 in rugby union.40
The review into rugby union was the only
other to ask when S&C was incorporated in
relation to the next match day, with 85.7% of
coaches also reporting MD-4 as the most
common day for S&C provision.
In theory, incorporating lower limb S&C on
a MD-4 would give the players sufficient
time to recover from the previous game
(>48 hours) and would give sufficient time
to recover and prepare for the forthcoming
game (four days later). It has been shown
that hamstring strength returns to normal
or above baseline at 72 hours post-match
in elite youth football players.16 In theory,
in a two-game week, 72 hours post-match
would be recorded as a MD-4, ie, a Tuesday,
between two Saturday fixtures.
In some football-specific periodisation
models, a MD-4 would be considered the
biggest training day in terms of training
volume. Coaches may not wish to implement
strength training the day before a high
volume of speed running for fear of residual
fatigue increasing the risk of injury or poor
performance. A MD-4 may also fall the day
before a day off or rest day, so a high volume
of combined pitch and gym work would be
followed by an adaptation period without
fear of being back on the pitch the next day.
S&C practices may therefore not only be
determined by fatigue and physiological
responses to matches, but also by the
manager’s desired periodisation strategy.
During a three-game week (eg, Saturday
and Tuesday and Saturday games),26 (52%)
coaches reported S&C sessions were
provided 1dwk-1, three reported 2dwk-1,
and one reported 3dwk-1. Twenty (40%)
practitioners reported that S&C sessions
were not provided at all, but that they
‘could be set on an individual basis’. One
practitioner did not respond to this question.
When asked to provide further details,14
practitioners reported that only non-starting
players completed a session and 16 reported
that all players completed at least one S&C
session. No other study into football or any
other sports has looked at the provision of
S&C during a congested fixture week, and
as such comparisons are difficult to discuss.
However, reasons as to why coaches reported
that no players completed an S&C session
included: ‘lack of time between matches
doesn’t allow full recovery’, ‘management
wants players to rest or have days off’,
‘a greater emphasis is placed on recovery
strategies’, ‘not deemed appropriate’, and
‘no gym-based work, but extended power-
based activation is performed on the pitch’.
These results provide a useful context for
practitioners where the logistical challenges
faced in the game provide a limitation to the
scope of S&C practice.
‘Lower limb
strength
training, such
as sprint speed
and jumps, has
been shown to
have a positive
influence on
football-specific
movements’
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Hamstring injuries are frequently reported
as the most common soft tissue injury in
football27 and muscle fatigue from fixture
congestion could add to the issue. Despite
the clear concern with high hamstring
injury rates, the lack of uptake of the Nordic
hamstring protocol (NHE) by Elite European
teams is surprising: it has been reported
that only 16.7% of teams followed the NHE
protocol in part or full capacity.4 The lack
of time between matches could explain this
situation. Although suggestions as to why
this uptake was so low were not reported
in that review, it could be suggested that
answers from the current study such as ‘lack
of time between matches doesn’t allow fully
recovery’ or ‘not deemed appropriate’ may
be applicable to the lack of uptake of NHE,
as teams surveyed in that review would be
consistently playing three-game weeks.
It may also be of note that recent research
with elite youth football players suggests
that, when combined with adequate
recovery, match-play may provide a suitable
stimulus for posterior chain muscle strength
development.16 Coaches working on a
day-to-day basis may see this as a reason
for not including any further stimulus,
especially in the posterior chain muscles
during a congested fixture week. With time
constraints and busy schedules being a
factor for not incorporating S&C, it may be
of interest for future research to highlight
S&C strategies that can be utilised during
these busy periods.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT: MOST
COMMON EXERCISES USED
The trap bar deadlift (TBD) or hex bar
deadlift (HBD) was the most commonly
used exercise reported in this study; with
26 (51%) coaches incorporating this exercise
into their programmes. The TBD was used
more frequently compared to a traditional
barbell back squat (n=21, 43%) or deadlift.
Research has demonstrated that the use of
a TBD results in greater force, power and
rate of force development (RFD) and has a
greater correlation with vertical jump due
to similar body positions when compared
to traditional squat or deadlifts.45,74 Hex bar
jumps have been shown to elicit greater
jump height, peak force, power and peak
RFD across varying loads when compared
to jump squats.78 Also, the TBD has been
shown to have a 65.8% higher concentric
RFD compared to the squat89 in recreational
trained athletes. In the authors’ experience,
football players also struggle with hip
and ankle injuries and subsequent lack of
range of motion that often lead to a poor
technical ability in the traditional barbell
squat exercise. These limitations can often
be reduced by utilising the TBD exercise.
Split stance exercises such as rear foot
elevated split squats (RFESS) were
frequently reported as the exercise utilised
in football S&C coaches’ programmes (n=20,
39%). Although split stance exercises may
not allow for the use of high loads compared
to bilateral movements such as the squat
or TBD, they may still be valuable due to
the reported high RFD and their unilateral
nature.89 Unilateral exercises such as split
stance squats or step-ups have a relatively
high concentric RFD89 and as such may be
useful for training athletic activates such as
sprinting or single leg jumps.
In comparison, the only other study that
looks at S&C provision in football reported
that the leg extension exercise was the most
commonly used.67 Leg extensions have
been reported to have a benefit in certain
rehabilitation settings, but their benefit
in aiding football performance may be
limited.62 This suggests that there has been
a change in emphasis since this study as
free weight, closed-chain exercises are often
considered more functional and beneficial
to athletic performance.6 In support of this,37
(72%) coaches ranked using free weight
‘Eccentric
muscle
actions involve
the active
lengthening of
muscle tissue
against an
external force
or load’
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(barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell) resistance
as the number one resistance modality used
in S&C practices.
The use of Olympic style weightlifting
exercises was considered less important in
football practices than previously reported
in other sports such as rugby union (used
by 90% of practitioners),40 rowing (87%),34
NFL (88%)22 and NHL (91%).24 Despite
the association between Olympic lifting
training and improvements in power output
and acceleration,14,84 the apparent lack of
implementation in football practice may
be for a number of reasons. This lower
usage may also be due to some of the
challenges of implementing Olympic lifts
into programmes. Olympic lifting exercises
such as the clean, snatch, and hang clean
are highly skilled, technically difficult and
time-consuming exercises to teach.29,81
With the reported lack of time available
considered a challenge to implementing
S&C in football, coaches may feel that time
could be spent better elsewhere with their
athletes. However, it is important to note
a potential difference between previous
studies that may also explain some of
this differential. In some previous studies
in rugby union40 and rowing practices,34
the squat and deadlift were considered
Olympic lifting exercises and as such could
be a reason for the higher reported usage of
these exercises than in the current study.
Other frequently used exercises included
the Romanian or stiff leg deadlift variations
(n=22, 43%), Nordic hamstring curls (n=15,
29%) and hip thrusts (n=13, 25%). Numerous
other exercises were also ranked in the
coaches’ five main exercises, including
eccentric hamstring curls, calf raises, lunge
patterns, isometric hamstring holds, step-
ups, Copenhagen adductor holds, single
leg jumps, and derivatives of Olympic
weightlifting, such as jump shrugs, hang
cleans and drop snatches. It should also
be noted that, as commented by one
practitioner, ‘there is a wide range of exercises
used’ – ie, that there are so many that they
couldn’t comment on which were the most
frequently used. This emphasises that there
appears to be a wide range of exercises used
within football S&C programmes.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
ECCENTRIC EXERCISES
Eccentric muscle actions involve the active
lengthening of muscle tissue against
an external force or load,46 in contrast to
isometric and concentric muscle actions
which involve no change in muscle
length or the shortening of muscle tissue,
respectively.77 It has been reported that
skeletal muscle can produce more relative
force during eccentric muscle actions
compared to isometric and concentric
actions65 and as such the use of many
eccentric exercises are gaining popularity
during strength and conditioning sessions.
In this research, 45 out of 51 (88%) coaches
reported using eccentric exercises, with
40 (78%) using eccentrics for preventing
injuries. These results support those
previously reported in the literature,
where 85% of practitioners believe that
eccentric exercises can help prevent
lower limb injuries in football players.59
Eccentric exercises have previously been
ranked as the most effective way to prevent
non-contact injuries in football players.53
In addition, it was reported that hamstring
eccentrics and the Nordic hamstring
exercise (NHE) were ranked third and fifth
accordingly. Eccentric exercises have also
been ranked fifth for preventing injuries in
international football squads.54 It has been
suggested that eccentric exercises may
prevent injury by improving the muscles’
ability to absorb more force before failing.43
A review into the use of eccentric exercise,
and in particular the NHE, in 50 UEFA
Champions League football teams, suggests
that despite the growing body of evidence
that promotes the use of NHE in hamstring
injury prevention, not many teams actually
follow the advice given.4 A total of 49% of
coaches in this current study use eccentric
exercises as ‘they follow the recommended
advice given in the literature’. In contrast,
Bahr et al4 found that only 16.7% followed the
NHE protocol in part or full capacity. The
contrast in results in these studies maybe
due to the lack of specific reference to the
NHE exercise in this current study, and just
‘In this
research, 88%
of coaches
reported using
eccentric
exercises,
with 78%
using
eccentrics for
preventing
injuries’
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referring to eccentric exercises, whereas the
Bahr et al4 research was specific to the NHE
protocol. Results in that study also suggest
that clubs use a multitude of hamstring
strengthening exercises, including other
eccentric exercises such as eccentric leg
curls in a yo-yo device, slider board
eccentrics and the Askling rehabilitation
exercise protocol;3 therefore uptake of
eccentric exercises overall maybe more
closely related to those in the current
study. In the present study, six coaches
reported not using eccentric exercises. The
main reason why they are not prescribed
was because ‘we don’t have time to
recover from eccentric overload exercises
during the season’. Other responses
included ‘maximal effort eccentric work
provides too much DOMS’ and ‘players have
a negative perception of eccentric exercises,
such as the Nordic’. These responses are the
same as suggestions by Petersen et al63 and
responses in the Bahr et al UEFA Champions
League NHE review.4
If the advice in the literature for protection
of hamstring injuries is to utilise eccentric
and in particular NHE exercises, then
researchers and coaches should look at ways
of incorporating it more. In that respect, a
recent study by Cuthbert, Ripley, McMahon,
Evans, Haff and Comfort18 has shown that
a lower than expected volume of NHE can
still produce adequate strength gains and
reduce the risk of HSI in football players.
Maybe practitioners need to follow this
advice early in pre-season to allow players to
adapt to the demands of the exercise before
congested season begins.
It could also be noted that S&C programmes
need to include a variety of strength
exercises, especially for hamstring/
posterior chain strengthening. There is
much debate around the muscle actions
required by the hamstrings during top
end running, with some believing it is an
eccentric action,72 and some believing it is
more of an isometric action.87 It is beyond
the scope of this review to discuss these
matters fully, but what is suggested is
that it may be beneficial to include both
eccentric and isometric training, as well as
traditional eccentric-concentric (isotonic)
strengthening and power development
exercises in S&C provision for football
players. Future research may look to provide
further real-world case study examples of in-
season strength training programmes that
address these issues.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
PLYOMETRICS AND SPEED DEVELOPMENT
TRAINING
The purpose of plyometric training is
to increase the power of subsequent
movements using both natural elastic
components of muscle and tendon and
the stretch reflex.56 The stretch shortening
cycle (SSC) enhances the ability of the
neural and musculotendinous systems
to produce maximal force in the shortest
amount of time.51 This has prompted the use
of plyometric training as a bridge between
strength and speed.51 As football is made up
of a combination of running, jumping, and
change of direction movements it would
seem logical to include methodologies
that enhance this capacity. In principle,
the more power the athletes can produce,
the better athletic performance they will
be able to achieve, which could lead to an
increased level of football performance.
In theory, by having the athletes perform
plyometric training, they will increase
power performance for specific game
situations.
Fifty (100%) coaches who responded
reported using plyometrics; there was one
coach who did not answer the question.
These results are similar to those in previous
studies in other sports; rugby (95%), NBA
(100%), MLB (95%), and NHL (91%).23,24,40,73
The reasons given for the use of plyometrics
were ‘improving rate of force development’
(68%), ‘improving reactive strength’
(49%), ‘training the stretch shortening
cycle’ (SSC) (43%) and ‘injury prevention’
(29%). One key factor when considering
appropriate plyometric drills is the ground
contact time (GCT) involved in the activity.
To this end, plyometric activities can
be categorised as either slow SSC (>250
milliseconds) or fast (<250 milliseconds)
SSC, depending on their GCT.
‘In theory,
by having
the athletes
perform
plyometric
training, they
will increase
power
performance
for specific
game
situations’
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A total of 71% of coaches in this report
frequently use box jumps in their
programmes. According to Markovic,52
plyometric training produces greater
positive effects in slow SSC jumps,
particularly the CMJ, than in the concentric-
only jumps (ie, squat jump), or even fast SSC
jumps (ie, drop jump).
Although there was unanimity amongst the
responses as to the use of plyometrics, there
was far more variance in the methodologies
deployed. Plyometrics cover a wide range
of jumping, hopping, and bounding-based
exercises that have the fundamental aim
of enhancing SSC performance. The most
frequently reported plyometric exercise was
multiple hops/jumps, with 80% of coaches
(n = 41) using these regularly. Other exercises
regularly used were box drills (eg, box
jumps) (n=36; 71%), reactive jumps in place
(n =32; 62%), bounding and vertical jumps
(both n =28; 55%), horizontal jumps (n=27;
47%), and depth jumps (n=24; 47%). Other
select responses include ‘proprioceptive
ancillary drills for stiffness’ and ‘ankling
warm-ups’. These results are highly
comparable to reported use of plyometrics
in other sports. Box jumps, jumps in place
and multiple hops were the most frequently
used plyometric exercise in rugby (74.4%),40
whereas box drills and multiple hops (85%)
were second only to upper body plyometric
exercises in basketball.73
Coaches in this study reported using
both vertical jumps (55%), and horizontal
movements, such as bounding (55%)
and horizontal jumps (47%). Direction
of force applied during plyometric or
resistance exercises may be considered as a
determinant factor of maximal sprint
performance.58 For example, it has been
shown that horizontal force production
jumps such as broad jumps, and resisted
sprints have positive responses in
acceleration capacities in elite young
football players.48 Conversely, vertical jump-
ing has been shown to have positive
effects on speed at longer distance (10 to
20m),48 which would be consistent with
the increased amount and importance of
vertical ground reaction forces during the
transition from lower to higher velocities.52
To this end, the GCT and the type and
direction of forces should guide plyometric
choice.
Using plyometric exercises was also the
main exercise stimulus reported to be
used in speed development training (n=40,
78%). Previous studies into other sports
have shown that plyometric exercises
are frequently used modality in speed
development. For example, in rugby union,40
plyometric exercises were second behind
un-resisted or free sprinting – which was
third (68%) in the current study in football.
In basketball,743 plyometric training and
speed endurance running (90%) are second
only to speed or sprint training drills. In this
current study, 68% of coaches used un-
resisted (free) sprinting and 63% used
sprint mechanics/technique running
drills to develop speed in football players.
Considering that all coaches incorporate
strength training practices, with their main
focus being performance enhancement, and
95% of coaches using plyometric exercises,
it would appear that 68% is surprisingly
low for using actual sprint-related drills
to improve speed development and may
compromise effective speed development.
The second question in this sub-section
asked practitioners how they integrate
plyometric training into their S&C
programmes. A total of 24 coaches (47%)
stated that it is ‘dependent on the individual
athlete’. The individualisation of plyometric
programming is far greater in the results
of this study compared to those previously
reported in other sports. In rugby union,40
only 13% of coaches integrate plyometrics
depending on the athlete’s individual needs.
Similarly, in the NBA,73 only 5% of coaches
integrate plyometrics depending on the
athlete’s individual needs.
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36 PROFESSIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING / WWW.UKSCA.ORG.UK
ISSUE 58 / SEPTEMBER 2020
Fifteen (29%) coaches reported that
‘plyometric exercises and resistance
training are done as complex training
during the same session’. In comparison to
similar studies in other sports, plyometrics
used as complex training with resistance
exercises is a far more common practice.
In rugby union, 80.6%,40 in the NBA 60% of
coaches,73 and in the NHL 56.6%24 of coaches
integrate plyometrics as complex training
within strength and power sessions.
In NHL,24 results are closer to that seen in
football, with 26.9% of coaches integrating
plyometrics as complex training.
In this study, 14 (27%) coaches only include
plyometric exercises ‘on the grass during the
warm up’, and 11 (22%) state that plyometrics
are completed ‘on separate days to resistance
training’. In comparison, in rugby union,
6.5% of coaches integrate plyometrics only
‘within on-field warm-ups.40 Other responses
included ‘depends on the phase of training
as to when they are included’, ‘pre-training
to potentiate speed drills’ and ‘incorporated
within sprinting sessions’.
The next question in this sub-section
asked practitioners how they integrated
speed development training into their S&C
programmes. Twenty-seven (54%) coaches
reported that ‘speed development training
is only included on the grass, during warm-
up or conditioning drills’. Twenty-five (49%)
coaches stated it was ‘dependent on the
individual athlete’, 13 (25%) reported that ‘it
is done before resistance training, but on the
same day’, 9 (17%) reported that they included
speed training ‘in complex training during
the same sessions as resistance training’,
and 6 (11%) state that it is done on ‘separate
days to resistance training’. Only two (4%)
coaches reported that ‘speed development
training is done on the same day but after
resistance training’.
Despite previous studies in other sports
highlighting the use of speed development
sessions, no data have been produced
showing how they can be integrated into
daily or weekly practice.
STRENGTH AND POWER DEVELOPMENT:
PERIODISATION
Periodisation is a theoretical model that
offers a framework for the planning and
systematic variation of an athlete’s training
prescription.10 Periodisation was originally
developed to support the training process
in track and field or similar sports in which
there is a clear overall objective such
as training tailored towards a major
championship such as the Olympics.66
The inclusion of variation in the prescribed
training load is thought to be a fundamentally
important concept in successful training
programmes.32 Sustained exposure to
the same training load can fail to elicit
further adaptations as an athlete adapts
to the stimulus. Sustained training loads,
especially if they are high, can also lead to
fatigue and injury.57 Both these outcomes
would result in ineffective training sessions
and a failure to benefit performance of both
the individual athlete and the team.57
Training studies normally show that
periodised training elicits improved
responses when compared to groups
employing a constant load.30,76 Consensus
has thus largely been reached among
researchers and practitioners that periodised
training offers superior development of
strength, power, body composition, and
other performance variables.30,75,76
Forty-three of the 51 respondents (84%)
reported implementing periodisation
strategies in their S&C programmes.
This practice is lower, but similar to that
of coaches in rugby union (90%), rowing
(97%), NBA (91%), NHL (90%), and MLB
(83%).40,34,73,24,23 Eight (16%) answered ‘no’,
they do not use a periodisation strategy.
The main reason (n=26, 51%) given for
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
37
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ISSUE 58 / SEPTEMBER 2020
implementing a periodisation strategy was
that ‘periodisation helps target a specific
outcome at a specific period’. Other answers
were that ‘periodised training offers superior
development of strength, power and
performance variables’ (n=22, 43%), ‘it helps
prevent stagnation or boredom’ (n=11, 22%),
and it is ‘vital to know when to add or delay
chances in the programme’ (n=10, 20%).
A major obstacle for coaches working
in seasonal team sports is the frequent
matches and extended competition period.
Football players need to attain multiple
physical training goals within similar time
periods and a competitive fixture schedule
that requires multiple (around 40-50)
peaks across a 10-11 month season. This is
supported by the responses provided in
this research. The main reason as to why a
periodisation strategy was not incorporated
was ‘too many external variables interrupt
any pre-planned periodisation strategy’ and
‘players don’t perform enough S&C to follow
a true or traditional periodisation strategy’.
Other responses included ‘too many
matches’, ‘our sessions incorporate most
aspects of athletic development’ and ‘don’t
follow a traditional model of periodisation’.
A potential complication here is what is
considered to be periodisation. Traditional
periodisation strategies often focus on
a particular component of training for
approximately four weeks, utilising a 3:1
loading paradigm whereby progressive
loading is applied for weeks 1-3 and week
4 is a de-load. However, there is a general
lack of evidence for the direct application
of traditional periodisation models to team
sports such as football.32
If coaches were to follow the classic model,
training would taper considerably for the
duration of the competition phase and this
would be hugely counterproductive for most
team sports.5,37 Therefore, a non-linear or
conjugate periodisation, which involves the
variation of load and volume on a session-
by-session basis, is more appropriate to team
sports during the in-season.33 It could be that
this type of approach is actually deployed
but was not considered as periodisation
by the 16% of responders who reported not
using periodisation.
Periodisation in football has previously
focused on the on-pitch conditioning of
players.49 This may be due to the fact that
in order to optimally prepare players to
undertake the different positional match
demands, specific physical and technical
football drills are implemented to achieve
these key physiological requirements. It
may also be because coaches often see the
on-pitch technical, tactical and physical
work to be of greater importance than gym-
based activities. Although it is clear that
some general concepts associated with
periodisation (for example, the division of
the year into phases of training; namely
pre-season, the competitive season, and
the off-season) are applied within the elite
professional game, there is little evidence for
the wholesale application of the traditional
methods of periodisation.
Therefore, relatively little information is
available, either in the literature or applied
professional journals, that provides a
detailed outline of the longitudinal gym-
based S&C training loads experienced by
players in football.
CURRENT ISSUES AND BARRIERS TO PRACTICE
It is well known that football schedules are
often congested, chaotic and at constant
threat of changing due to several factors
such as television coverage and progression
in one or a number of knockout tournaments.
Issues around fixture congestion are
impossible to change, as the nature of the
sport can require teams to play 2-3 games per
week for the vast majority of the season.2,83
This is the case for not only the elite teams
playing in European competition, but also
those in English domestic leagues, due to
involvement in multiple cup competitions
on top of a 38-46 game league season. It
becomes difficult to periodise, manage
training load and avoid accumulated
fatigue, while ensuring that players remain
at an optimal level of physical fitness during
the season.2
It is therefore no surprise that time available
between matches was reported as the biggest
‘building
relationships
and effective
communication
styles to allow
players to see
the transfer
of gym work
to on-field
performance
would be highly
advantageous’
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
38 PROFESSIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING / WWW.UKSCA.ORG.UK
ISSUE 58 / SEPTEMBER 2020
challenge facing the implementation of
S&C practices by practitioners in this
study. It was also the second ranked
perceived challenge facing those at other
organisations. Reduced recovery time and
congested match schedule are highly ranked
perceived extrinsic risk factors for injury in
top-level football.53 Responses in this study
are in line with those previously reported
into injury prevention strategies and on-
pitch conditioning.8,19,49,53,54 In agreement, 33
(64.7%) coaches in this survey suggest that
the increase of in-season fixtures is a cause
of increased injury risk.
Additionally, the importance placed on
winning matches, which was ranked second
in barriers to practice, is a barrier that will
prove very difficult to change. The overall
aim of senior professional sport is to win,
and support staff operating within these
organisations should always remember that
winning is often deemed more important
than the process of getting there. The
importance of winning matches has
previously been highlighted as a barrier
to physical fitness development;49 in this
current report, one practitioner suggested
that S&C coaches ‘need to understand that
we are part of football performance, not just
gym performance’.
However, ‘lack of staff’ or ‘lack of or poor
facilities’, which were third and fourth ranked
responses in this survey, are something
that can be managed. If performance,
injury rates and time lost to injury are all
important factors to winning matches,35 then
employing qualified staff and providing
adequate training facilities should be of
high importance to senior club staff. Lack
of staff has previously been highlighted as
a substantial barrier to the effectiveness of
any training load monitoring practices in
football.1 Hagglund et al35 have previously
described how a low incidence of injuries
and team success are correlated, whereby
teams with fewer injuries have better results
in both UEFA tournaments and in national
leagues. The results from this study should
provide clear motivation for coaches and
managers to work together with medical
teams to help prevent injuries. Although
not reported in this study, from the authors’
experience, many football clubs especially
in the lower tiers of English football may not
have their own training facilities. Often clubs
will use local leisure centres, universities or
public fitness centres for their S&C sessions,
which all provide barriers to the effective
application of strength and conditioning.
Within the 51 clubs who responded to
this study, there was a total of 452 staff
employed. However, S&C coaches were the
least represented out of all the professions,
with only 10.6% (n=48) compared to 27.2%
(n=123) physiotherapists, 15.3% (n=69)
sports scientists and 14.3% (n=66) soft
tissue therapists. Clearly S&C still has a
long way to go before it is fully accepted
as a key part of a performance team. This
is further emphasised by the fact that there
were less reported paid S&C coaches than
interns (n=61, 13.5%) within the 51 clubs who
replied, further emphasizing the potential
lack of importance placed on strength and
conditioning.
However, although we did not ask the
question, it is always possible that some
sport scientists, physiotherapists and
interns take the role of S&C coaches in
some organisations and therefore these
numbers may not be truly representative
of the landscape. Clubs in the lower tiers,
or those with less finance, may utilise some
staff in a dual-role capacity. Some sports
scientists and S&C coaches may often have
inter-changeable job titles depending on
the organisation. For example, someone
whose job role is primarily that of an S&C
coach, may in fact have the job title of sport
scientist or fitness coach. The fact that
112 members of staff hold a S&C-related
certification, but only 48 (43%) are classified
as S&C coaches may bear this out. However,
if the requirement in professional football is
to improve performance and help prevent
injuries, then organisations may need to
employ more qualified staff in strict S&C
roles. In fact, when given the option to provide
an insight into the future of S&C in football,
several practitioners provided answers that
support this argument. Responses included:
‘the increased demands of the game and
athletes will improve buy-in’, ‘with players
becoming fitter, faster, stronger, the role
‘if the requirement in professional football is to improve
performance and help prevent injuries, then organisations may
need to employ more qualified staff in strict S&C roles’
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
39
PROFESSIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING / WWW.UKSCA.ORG.UK
ISSUE 58 / SEPTEMBER 2020
of the S&C coach will become more vital’,
and ‘hope that S&C coaches get the same
recognition in terms of salary and respect as
other medical staff’.
Given that S&C has yet to be fully accepted
in football, an important role for a coach
is to convince key people of the potential
impact S&C practices can have on football
performance. Consequently, coaches were
asked about their methods for creating a
positive buy-in or attitude towards S&C
practices. Results show that 46 (90%)
coaches believe ‘building trust and effective
relationships with players’ to be the most
valuable method for creating a positive
attitude towards S&C. Forty-one (80%)
coaches reported ‘effective communication
with athletes’ as the second most valuable
method for creating a positive attitude
towards S&C. These responses could be
of interest to current and up-and-coming
coaches.
On the other hand, programme design
(n=14, 27%), exercise selection (n=11, 21%),
and use of the latest technology (n=4,
8%), all areas that are typically associated
with superior strength and conditioning
programming, were actually lower ranked
responses. Instead, it was communication,
relationships and approach to players and
staff that were deemed more important.
Often, S&C professionals are encouraged
to think it is the choice of exercises that
make a successful programme, but coaches
working in elite football suggest differently.
No survey into other sports has asked this
question before, and as such, the findings
relating to S&C practice in football are novel
to this report, and crucial if the field is to
develop suitably skilled coaches.
As a result, universities, coaching org-
anisations such as the NSCA or UKSCA,
and other educational providers should
be encouraged to incorporate more
communication style and relationship
building education into their courses rather
than focusing solely on the importance of
exercises per se. Interestingly, previous
research with elite athletes has shown that –
while instruction, technical knowledge and
feedback are essential in delivery effective
S&C coaching – athletes suggest that trust,
respect and relationship with the coach
have an important role in a successful
programme.79
Thirty-seven (72%) coaches reported
‘showing the player how gym-based
exercises will translate to on-pitch
improvements’ as an important method for
creating a positive attitude towards S&C
practices. The transfer from ‘gym strength’
to on-field performance is supported by the
training principle of specificity, which states
that the closer the strength training resembles
a sport movement, the greater the transfer
of strength is, particularly in elite athletes.90
Muscle recruitment patterns associated
with a strength training task should be
comparable when expressed during the
sport movement.13 For example, this would
include the direction of force, velocity of
movement and muscle contraction types42
being similar in gym-based movements
to those performed on the pitch. Research
into a number of elite sports (track-cycling,
kayaking, rowing and athletics) has shown
that S&C coaches believe that in order
to gain the biggest transfer from gym
strength to performance strength, there
needs to be a strong combination of non-
specific strength training and resisted sport
movement training, such as resisted rowing,
resisted running or over-geared (increased
resistance) pedalling.11
Taken together, it could be suggested
that to create a positive buy-in from
players to help develop a successful S&C
programme, building relationships and
effective communication styles to allow
players to see the transfer of gym work
to on-field performance would be highly
advantageous.
Practical conclusion
This study is the first to describe the S&C
practices of coaches supporting football
athletes in the UK and North America. As
respondents supported professional senior
male level football players, practitioners
now have a source of data describing S&C
at the elite end of football. Coaches and
sports science practitioners who work with
football athletes at all levels can use this
summary of S&C practices as a resource
to inform and improve their practices.
Information presented in this article may
also influence the design of experimental
protocols in future studies investigating
effects of conditioning interventions on
physical performance variables associated
with football performance.
There are currently some recommendations
regarding what exercises could be used to
create an effective S&C programme, and
how these can be prescribed in professional
players (eg, sets, reps, frequency and
progression). There is, however, no clear
consensus regarding the most effective
S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
‘Coaches and
sports science
practitioners
who work
with football
athletes at
all levels
can use this
summary of
S&C practices
as a resource
to inform and
improve their
practices
40 PROFESSIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING / WWW.UKSCA.ORG.UK
ISSUE 58 / SEPTEMBER 2020
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AUTHORS’ BIOGRAPHIES
MIKE BEERE,
MSC, ASCC
Mike has worked for nine
years as a senior S&C coach
at Cardiff City Football Club.
He has a masters in S&C
and is currently studying
for a PhD in the ‘Practical
application of S&C in elite
football’.
IAN JEFFREYS,
PHD, ASCC, CSCS*D, RSCC*E, FUKSCA,
FNSCA
Ian is professor of strength
and conditioning at the
University of South Wales.
He is a former board
member of the UKSCA and
an assessor and tutor with
the Association. Ian is editor
of
Professional Strength &
Conditioning.
NICKI LEWIS,
CPSYCHOL, AFBPSS, SFHEA
Nicky is a BPS chartered
psychologist and head
of therapeutic studies at
the University of South
Wales. She has previously
held roles on the British
Olympic Association
Psychology Advisory Group
and the Welsh Rugby Union
Research Advisory Group
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S&C PRACTICES IN ELITE MALE FOOTBALL
... 24,27 The key role of a strength and conditioning (S&C) coach is to help improve physical performance and reduce injury rate. 6 Although designing training programmes appears to be the first step of training management, monitoring the impact of the sessions on players appears to be the second important step towards being successful in the training process. 13 As part of the efforts to maximise performance and minimise injury occurrence, S&C coaches and medical staff will frequently engage in multi-dimensional strategies aimed at the monitoring of player wellness, training load, physical status, strength and readiness to train on a daily basis. ...
... The most common reason for including testing and monitoring processes was to improve performance (n= 43, 84%) and injury prevention (n=42, 82%), which is in agreement with previous research. 1 In addition, in the first part of this review, 6 S&C practitioners focus their programming on increasing performance and reducing injury rates. Therefore, it is not surprising that procedures are put in place to monitor these training goals. ...
... It has previously been shown that a high proportion of practitioners in professional football specifically target speed qualities such as acceleration, max speed and change of direction speed at least once a week during training sessions. 6 However, when asked how frequently these performance markers, in addition to anaerobic capacity, muscular strength and muscular endurance were tested, the most common answer given was 'never'. This does suggest a lack of consistency between the stated performance goals and the methodologies deployed, as these speed and strength qualities are considered important in the sport and have been previously recommended in the literature. ...
Article
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There is limited published research on strength and conditioning (S&C) practices in elite football. Information regarding athlete testing and monitoring practices would be valuable for both applied practitioners and researchers investigating practices in professional football. The aim of this study was therefore to detail the current testing and monitoring procedures of practitioners working in senior male football. A questionnaire was developed that comprised the following five sections: 1) why do you use testing and monitoring practices?; 2) what variables are tested during the separate pre-season and in-season phases?; 3) how often are variables tested or monitored?; 4) what is the impact and level of effectiveness of monitoring strategies?; and 5) what are considered the markers of a successful programme? Fifty-one (51 men; age 32.45 ± 7.27 years) out of 74 (68.9%) coaches responded to the questionnaire, all of them working in senior male football for 9.61 ± 5.65 years. All respondents reported using some testing and monitoring practices with the aim of improving performance (n= 43, 84%) and prevention of injury (n=42, 82%). Each team assesses a mean of 9.7 variables during the in-season phase. The majority of practitioners will regularly monitor body composition (86%), training load via GPS data (82%) and heart rate response (74%), player wellness (72%) and lower limb power via CMJ (59%). Athlete feedback and injury rate were seen as the biggest determinants of successful S&C programming. This survey represents new data regarding testing and monitoring practices in elite male football and as such serves as a review of applied information.
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Purpose Return-to-play (RTP) is an on-going challenge in professional football. Return-to-play related research is increasing. However, it is unknown to what extent the recommendations presented within research are being implemented by professional football teams, and where there are gaps between research and practice. The purposes of this study were (1) to determine if premier-league football teams worldwide follow a RTP continuum, (2) to identify RTP criteria used and (3) to understand how RTP decision-making occurs in applied practice. Methods We sent a structured online survey to practitioners responsible for the RTP programme in 310 professional teams from 34 premier-leagues worldwide. The survey comprised four sections, based on hamstring muscle injury: (1) criteria used throughout RTP phases, (2) the frequency with which progression criteria were achieved, (3) RTP decision-making process and (4) challenges to decision-making. Results One-hundred and thirty-one teams responded with a completed survey (42%). One-hundred and twenty-four teams (95%) used a continuum to guide RTP, assessing a combination of clinical, functional and psychological criteria to inform decisions to progress. One-hundred and five (80%) teams reported using a shared decision-making approach considering the input of multiple stakeholders. Team hierarchy, match- and player-related factors were common challenges perceived to influence decision-making. Conclusions General research recommendations for RTP and the beliefs and practices of practitioners appear to match with, the majority of teams assessing functional, clinical and psychological criteria throughout a RTP continuum to inform decision-making which is also shared among key stakeholders. However, specific criteria, metrics and thresholds used, and the specific involvement, dynamics and interactions of staff during decision-making are not clear.
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: The purpose of this study was to determine changes in two tests of lower limb isometric posterior chain force (IPC-F) following 90 min of match-play in elite youth soccer players and the interaction between relative strength and recovery profile. 14 players (age: 16 ± 2 years) performed 3 × 3 second IPC-F tests unilaterally at 30° and 90° of knee and hip flexion pre- and post-match, +24 h, +48 h, and +72 h post-match. Peak force was recorded for both limbs, combined and expressed relative to bodyweight (N/kg). A two-way repeated measures analysis of variance was performed to determine differences in force output between joint angles, time intervals and subjects. As there was no interaction between angle and time (p = 0.260), we report the change between timepoints as mean Δ in 90° + 30° IPC-F. Relative to pre-match IPC-F, there were significant decreases post (Δ = -18%; p > 0.001) and at +24 h (Δ = -8%; p = 0.040), no significant difference at +48 h (Δ = 0%; p = 0.992) and a significant increase at +72 h (Δ = +12%; p = 0.005). There was a large inter-individual variability in recovery profile at both angles and substantial differences between post-match deficits at 90° (-10.8%) compared to 30° (-20.7%). Higher pre-match IPC-F was correlated with the magnitude of IPC-F deficits at both angles and all time points (r = 0.56 to 0.70, p= < 0.01) except for post-match 90°. Regular IPC-F monitoring to determine the magnitude of match-induced fatigue and track recovery may help inform decision-making regarding modifications to individual players training load, particularly as there is a large inter-individual variability in response to competition. Further research is warranted to better understand and address the finding that stronger players showed larger force deficits and slower recovery following match-play.
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Background Although performance of the Nordic hamstring exercise (NHE) has been shown to elicit adaptations that may reduce hamstring strain injury (HSI) risk and occurrence, compliance in NHE interventions in professional soccer teams is low despite a high occurrence of HSI in soccer. A possible reason for low compliance is the high dosages prescribed within the recommended interventions. The aim of this review was to investigate the effect of NHE-training volume on eccentric hamstring strength and biceps femoris fascicle length adaptations. Methods A literature search was conducted using the SPORTDiscus, Ovid, and PubMed databases. A total of 293 studies were identified prior to application of the following inclusion criteria: (1) a minimum of 4 weeks of NHE training was completed; (2) mean ± standard deviation (SD) pre- and post-intervention were provided for the measured variables to allow for secondary analysis; and (3) biceps femoris muscle architecture was measured, which resulted in 13 studies identified for further analysis. The TESTEX criteria were used to assess the quality of studies with risk of bias assessment assessed using a fail-safe N (Rosenthal method). Consistency of studies was analysed using I² as a test of heterogeneity and secondary analysis of studies included Hedges’ g effect sizes for strength and muscle architecture variables to provide comparison within studies, between-study differences were estimated using a random-effects model. Results A range of scores (3–11 out of 15) from the TESTEX criteria were reported, showing variation in study quality. A ‘low risk of bias’ was observed in the randomized controlled trials included, with no study bias shown for both strength or architecture (N = 250 and 663, respectively; p < 0.001). Study consistency was moderate to high for strength (I² = 62.49%) and muscle architecture (I² = 88.03%). Within-study differences showed that following interventions of ≥ 6 weeks, very large positive effect sizes were seen in eccentric strength following both high volume (g = 2.12) and low volume (g = 2.28) NHE interventions. Similar results were reported for changes in fascicle length (g ≥ 2.58) and a large-to-very large positive reduction in pennation angle (g ≥ 1.31). Between-study differences were estimated to be at a magnitude of 0.374 (p = 0.009) for strength and 0.793 (p < 0.001) for architecture. Conclusions Reducing NHE volume prescription does not negatively affect adaptations in eccentric strength and muscle architecture when compared with high dose interventions. These findings suggest that lower volumes of NHE may be more appropriate for athletes, with an aim to increase intervention compliance, potentially reducing the risk of HSI.
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The purpose of this review was to provide a physiological rationale for the use of eccentric resistance training and to provide an overview of the most commonly prescribed eccentric training methods. Based on the existing literature, there is a strong physiological rationale for the incorporation of eccentric training into a training program for an individual seeking to maximize muscle size, strength, and power. Specific adaptations may include an increase in muscle cross-sectional area, force output, and fiber shortening velocities, all of which have the potential to benefit power production characteristics. Tempo eccentric training, flywheel inertial training, accentuated eccentric loading, and plyometric training are commonly implemented in applied contexts. These methods tend to involve different force absorption characteristics and thus, overload the muscle or musculotendinous unit in different ways during lengthening actions. For this reason, they may produce different magnitudes of improvement in hypertrophy, strength, and power. The constraints to which they are implemented can have a marked effect on the characteristics of force absorption and therefore, could affect the nature of the adaptive response. However, the versatility of the constraints when prescribing these methods mean that they can be effectively implemented to induce these adaptations within a variety of populations.
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The purpose of the study is to compare the effect of open chain exercises versus closed chain exercise on vertical jump performance in collegiate basketball players. 40 basketball players who have participated in the college level tournaments were selected for the study . they all divided into equal groups, 20 participants underwent open chain exercises and 20 participants underwent closed chain exercises. The study was conducted for 6 weeks duration. Following that the vertical jump performance was evaluated using Vertec equipment. The result was analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA and post hoc test. The result of the study showed that closed chain exercises participants were able to achieve maximal vertical jump height when compared to the open chain exercise participants
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Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate potential moderators (i.e. lower body strength, repeated-sprint ability [RSA] and maximal velocity) of injury risk within a team-sport cohort. Design Observational Cohort Study. Methods Forty male amateur hurling players (age: 26.2 ± 4.4 yr, height: 184.2 ± 7.1 cm, mass: 82.6 ± 4.7 kg) were recruited. During a two-year period, workload (session RPE x duration), injury and physical qualities were assessed. Specific physical qualities assessed were a three-repetition maximum Trapbar deadlift, 6 × 35-m repeated-sprint (RSA) and 5-, 10- and 20-m sprint time. All derived workload and physical quality measures were modelled against injury data using regression analysis. Odds ratios (OR) were reported against a reference group. Results Moderate weekly loads between ≥ 1400 AU and ≤ 1900 AU were protective against injury during both the pre-season (OR: 0.44, 95%CI: 0.18–0.66) and in-season periods (OR: 0.59, 95% CI: 0.37–0.82) compared to a low load reference group (≤ 1200 AU). When strength was considered as a moderator of injury risk, stronger athletes were better able to tolerate the given workload at a reduced risk. Stronger athletes were also better able to tolerate larger week-to-week changes ( > 550 AU to 1000 AU) in workload than weaker athletes (OR = 2.54–4.52). Athletes who were slower over 5-m (OR: 3.11, 95% CI: 2.33–3.87), 10-m (OR: 3.45, 95% CI: 2.11–4.13) and 20-m (OR: 3.12, 95% CI: 2.11–4.13) were at increased risk of injury compared to faster athletes. When repeated-sprint total time (RSAt) was considered as a moderator of injury risk at a given workload (≥ 1750 AU), athletes with better RSAt were at reduced risk compared to those with poor RSAt (OR: 5.55, 95%: 3.98–7.94). Conclusions These findings demonstrate that well-developed lower-body strength, RSA and speed are associated with better tolerance to higher workloads and reduced risk of injury in team-sport athletes.
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Strength coaches are searching for the best ways to train athletes to be bigger, faster, and stronger in order to increase performance. A unique form of training is to invoke postactivation potentiation whichis based on the premise of performing a heavy resistance exercise followed by anexplosive exercise, resulting in increased power performance. Back squats are normally used, but a less researched tool is the hex bar deadlift. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the potentiating effects of back squats vs. hex bar deadlifts on vertical jump performance. Twenty resistance-trained men (age = 22.15 ± 2.66 yrs, ht = 178.10 ± 7.20 cm, mass = 78.91 ± 8.67 kg) volunteered to participate and performed 3 pre countermovement jumps then 3 repetitions of back squat or hex bar deadlift at 85% of their 1-repetition max. To perform the countermovement jump, subjects jumped with arm swing on a force plate. The back squat was performed with a standard barbell in a power rack with a safety squat device to insure a thigh parallel positionwhile the hex bar deadlift was performed using the low handles without straps. Following the lifts, subjects rested 8 minutes then performed 3 post countermovement jumps. A control condition consisted of 3 pre countermovement jumps, 8 minutes of standing rest, then 3 post countermovement jumps. For jump height, there was an interaction of condition x time where the control (pre 62.17 ± 7.48cm, post 60.90 ± 7.17cm) and squat (pre 62.33 ± 7.57cm, post 60.87 ± 7.42cm) conditions resulted in significant decreases in post vertical jump with no difference for deadlift (pre 61.54 ± 7.14cm, post 61.47 ± 7.73cm). Performing a hex bar deadlift mainained vertical jump compared to a heavy back squat and may be preferential for acute performance. Careful manipulation of critical variables is paramount to eliciting postactivation potentiation.
Article
The objective of the study was to explore coaches’ philosophies regarding strength training (repetitive muscle actions against high loads) and the transfer of strength training to sports performance. Thirteen world class coaches and athletes from track cycling, Bicycle Moto-Cross (BMX), sprint kayaking, rowing and athletics sprinting were interviewed using an open-ended, semi-structured approach. Participants were asked about their coaching philosophies, design of athlete training programmes, strength training and its transfer to sports performance. A thematic analysis was conducted. Data trustworthiness was enhanced by methods of member checking and analyst triangulation. Coaches believed that task-specific strength is essential for sports performance. They reported that non-specific strength training (‘traditional’ gym-based strength exercises that are not specific to a sport movement) is important for increasing athletes’ muscle size and strength. This is typically used in conjunction with resisted sport movement training (for example, increased resistance running, pedalling or rowing), believed to achieve an effective transfer of enhanced muscle strength to sports performance. Coaches described the transfer process as complex, with factors associated with fatigue and coordination having particular significance. The importance that coaches place on coordination is supported by a theoretical model that demonstrates increases in muscle strength from strength training may need to be accompanied with a change in inter-muscular coordination to improve sport performance. The idea that each athlete needs to adapt intermuscular coordination in response to a change in his/her unique set of ‘organism constraints’ (e.g. muscle strength) is well described by the theory of ecological dynamics and Newell’s model of constraints.
Article
Objective To investigate the effect of FIFA injury prevention programmes in football (FIFA 11 and FIFA 11+). Design Systematic review and meta-analysis. Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Randomised controlled trials comparing the FIFA injury prevention programmes with a control (no or sham intervention) among football players. Data sources MEDLINE via PubMed, EMBASE via OVID, CINAHL via Ebsco, Web of Science, SportDiscus and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, from 2004 to 14 March 2016. Results 6 cluster-randomised controlled trials had assessed the effect of FIFA injury prevention programmes compared with controls on the overall football injury incidence in recreational/subelite football. These studies included 2 specific exercise-based injury prevention programmes: FIFA 11 (2 studies) and FIFA 11+ (4 studies). The primary analysis showed a reduction in the overall injury risk ratio of 0.75 (95% CI 0.57 to 0.98), p=0.04, in favour of the FIFA injury prevention programmes. Secondary analyses revealed that when pooling the 4 studies applying the FIFA 11+ prevention programme, a reduction in the overall injury risk ratio (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 0.61; 95% CI 0.48 to 0.77, p<0.001) was present in favour of the FIFA 11+ prevention programme. No reduction was present when pooling the 2 studies including the FIFA 11 prevention programme (IRR 0.99; 95% CI 0.80 to 1.23, p=0.940). Conclusions An injury-preventing effect of the FIFA injury prevention programmes compared with controls was shown in football. This effect was induced by the FIFA 11+ prevention programme which has a substantial injury-preventing effect by reducing football injuries by 39%, whereas a preventive effect of the FIFA 11 prevention programme could not be documented. Trial registration number PROSPERO CRD42015024120.