Effects of in-season plyometric training within soccer practice on explosive actions of young players

César Meylan, Davide Malatesta
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2009, 23 (9): 2605-13
In soccer, explosive actions such as jumping, sprinting, and changes of direction are essential to optimal performance not only in adults, but also in children's games. The purpose of the present investigation was to determine the influence of a short-term plyometric training within regular soccer practice on explosive actions of early pubertal soccer players during the in-season. Fourteen children (13.3 +/- 0.6 years) were selected as the training group (TG) and 11 children (13.1 +/- 0.6 years) were defined as the control group (CG). All children were playing in the same league and trained twice per week for 90 minutes with the same soccer drills. The TG followed an 8-week plyometric program (i.e., jumping, hurdling, bouncing, skipping, and footwork) implemented as a substitute for some soccer drills to obtain the same session duration as CG. At baseline and after training, explosive actions were assessed with the following 6 tests: 10-meter sprint, agility test, 3 vertical jump tests (squat jump [SJ], countermovement jump [CMJ], contact test [CT] and multiple 5 bounds test [MB5]). Plyometric training was associated with significant decreases in 10-m sprint time (-2.1%) and agility test time (-9.6%) and significant increases in jump height for the CMJ (+7.9%) and CT (+10.9%). No significant changes in explosive actions after the 8-week period were recorded for the CG. The current study demonstrated that a plyometric program within regular soccer practice improved explosive actions of young players compared to conventional soccer training only. Therefore, the short-term plyometric program had a beneficial impact on explosive actions, such as sprinting, change of direction, and jumping, which are important determinants of match-winning actions in soccer performance.

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